Posted by: minnow | September 16, 2018

World View: the White Lens

I recently has a FB discussion with someone I didn’t know. It began about the economy but as soon as I suggested that the economy was not as “great” for others as it might be for most white men, I was accused of bringing race into a discussion that didn’t need to be about race. When I asked why race shouldn’t be part of the discussion I was accused of being a divisive liberal. When I suggested the individual was refusing to understand the ways racial discrimination impacts over a third of the population, the conversation deteriorated further. Soon after that, I was accused of reverse discrimination and told I knew nothing about the person to whom I was talking, neither of which were true.
Bold statement I know, but hear me out. I admit I did not know personal data about the person I was engaged with, though I could probably have visited his FB page and found out a few things, but that information wasn’t actually germane to the conversation. What I needed to know, since I wasn’t planning to have an on going relationship with the guy, I gleaned from what he said and how he said it. Based on his own statements and the way in which he wanted to direct our dialogue I actually discerned quite a bit. For example, from his statement: “Every AMERICAN deserves a voice.” I understood he thought he was being inclusive. Yet as soon as I suggested for some segments of the population (people of color) more than for other segments of the population (white men) the economy was not only not “Great” it was getting worse I was expanding the parameters of the conversation. By the end of the conversation the only reason I could get from him for why it didn’t belong in the conversation is because HE–a young white man–wasn’t talking about race; HE was talking about the economy; and I–a whining liberal, like all the other snowflake liberals–only play the race card because the economy is so good we can’t call it bad (or criticize the President, or be divisive, or hate on white men) any other way.
Yeah, I kind of lost it. I told him, “You say ‘every AMERICAN’ but then insist that YOUR experience, not the experiences of EVERY American, be the only plume line allowed in a conversation. YOU aren’t discriminated against so nobody else should bring race into the discussion. YOU don’t want to look at it, because YOU don’t think it’s pertinent, because YOU, YOUR voice, YOUR experience, YOUR agenda, YOU–a relatively young white man–are THE lens through which everyone else must see the world because that’s the only view YOU are willing to discuss.” Needless to say, he didn’t start listening to me.
The problems we face are multifaceted because we are a diverse people. The group who has current control of the Republican party and has taken over our government is unwilling, if not incapable, of looking at or wrestling with the complexity of these issues. When 45, a bold, somewhat crass, authoritarian, shouted at his rallies that he was going to drain the swamp, that he wanted to lock her up, that he was going to get things done, and he would return us to a time when America was Great, he was not talking about getting rid of government corruption, seeing that law breakers would be punished, or that more people, not fewer, would have a seat at the table. The corruption the Right is worried about has little to do with “law and order” but a whole lot to do with the order of society. 45, the current GOP, and the Religious Right want to return to a time when white men sat at the top and all others, including “their” white women, serviced them. Hillary Clinton was “corrupt”, not because she broke any written law but because she is a woman and dared to expect to be seen as an equal. President Obama was “corrupt” not because of his policy or politics but because as a Black man he actually showed himself to be morally and intellectually equal, if not superior, to the white men with power, certainly the white man currently in the White House. 
You really want to end the divisiveness in this country? Try to intentionally look at the problems we face through someone else’s lens–a woman’s, a person of color’s, a person of a different faith, age, or sexual orientation. Those who are NOT systematically discriminated against do not get to cry “reverse discrimination” just because those who face discrimination every day of their lives demand the same rights, the same control over the conversation, the same seat at the power table as the people in power already have.

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