Act Now! You May Already Be a Bigot!

11 Oct

An unexpected side-effect of having written this blog for several years was an increased and amended understanding of myself. I suppose I might have guessed it could happen, most people pour themselves into their diaries and ruminate on their victimization at the business end of a Cold, Cruel World, eventually coming to the conclusion that things are fucked up because the Earth doesn’t actually revolve around ourselves. I began this blog with that sort of mindset, having recently been dumped and full of anger at anything and everything. I was looking to pick a fight, and many of my earliest posts reflect that combative mindset. I settled down over time, critiquing television and comic books and whatever struck my fancy. And, over time, some long-held opinions I had started to change–moreso, I started challenging my reactive beliefs. I did so here, and later here, and even had an epiphany about Capitalism that I didn’t bother to write about. I am glad that I can still learn, and grow, even at this mid-life stage. And one lasting change over myself is that I continually challenge my reactive responses.

For instance, there are a few posts challenging feminism on this blog that I’m not too proud of. You can look at one here. Most of them evince my frustration at being lumped in with psychotic wife-beaters and maniacs whenever a man impugns a woman, and the internet invective turns towards the male gender as a whole. I bristled at that because I am not a crazy idiot; the future is unknowable, but I am reasonably sure that I will never beat, or rape, or murder a woman. Ever. So to point at Chester the Subway Molester and decry maledom seemed unfair to me, an Enlightened Man. I’m not that guy. I’m a nice dude. I only glance at women’s cleavage, I don’t stare.

And that’s when it occurred to me: I might not be a murderer of women, but it doesn’t mean I’m not unconsciously an abuser of women.

And it’s not just about women, either. Folks from other countries, of other skin tones, even dopey people struggling at the ATM while a line of grumbling people grows behind them. If you were to ask me directly, I would say that I believe in equality and justice for all. But if you could peer into my reactive mind, and see what goes through it when three Latin folks are coming my way on the street, then you would find fear, hate, guilt, and frustration at grappling with all of these feelings. The instinctive response, when someone suggests that white men are a problem, is to say, “Hey, I’m a white man, and I’m not a problem!” And that, my friends and enemies, is the problem. That is Privilege.

This blog hasn’t been updated in a couple of years, and is infrequently read, but if any fellow white dudes are out there reading this, then let me ask this of you, in whitespeak: listen and read, instead of yelling and posting. Yes, even if you don’t like the tone of the person talking. Even if you think a blanket opinion about your race and gender is unfair, take the time to be silent and actually take in what you’re being exposed to. Because you’re right, blanket opinions about other people are unfair. And that’s exactly the kind of reactive state that we should all hope to quell.

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