If You’re a White Guy, Be Good at It

White guys, like me, are getting really sensitive lately. Think about race and gender long enough, and one might be tempted to conclude that being a white guy isn’t that great. Sometimes it seems as though we’re entitled to very little… there’s always some company, school or program looking for a more “diverse” applicant. Isn’t that sort of reverse discrimination?

Bullshit it is. C’mon. Being a white middle-to-upper class guy, especially in North America, is the biggest possible win in the lottery of demographics. Jackpot my man, don’t complain.

The whole reason diversity is so needed and attractive is because, even in the 21st century, most of us still assume that the oldest, best dressed white guy in the room is the one in charge. That’s most people’s default setting, especially if you are — you guessed it — a white guy. Is this true for someone that works for Victoria Secret or the NAACP? Probably not, but this is just a further illustration of how race or gender biased most societies are… that the only “logical” place to not find a white guy steering the ship is somewhere that’s too “girly” or “black” for us.

Thus the key to being a good white guy is to desperately avoid saying or thinking horrible cliches like “women can be strong too!” That may sound supportive to you, but it’s degrading. No, just keep your mouth shut about other people’s race and gender (unless you are fighting for their benefit), never ever complain about your whiteness/masculinity, and act like we’re all on equal footing.

Of course, that isn’t the case. We are all inherently capable of equality in almost every way, but a long history of misogyny and racism gives white men the upper hand in many arenas, whether they deserve it or not. Maybe sometimes we really have earned success, but there’s no reason to draw attention to it or to even hint that someone of the opposite race or gender couldn’t be exactly the same or better… ‘cause there are plenty that are. White guys: take the high road. When you’re doing it right, it’ll feel like you’re giving something away.

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© 2012, Ian Mathias