“Sandy shook her head. ‘Boys,’ she said, and with that single word excused me from all responsibility.” Ann Patchett, in The Dutch House.
This trenchant quote damnear caused me to choke when I came across it while eating breakfast this morning. I was blind to the concept of white male privilege until after I had been married for many years. Even then, the idea remained quiescent for some time. My eyes really didn’t even begin to open, in fact, until after I had been a probation officer for a while. But soon after I was blessed with the gift of my first child, The Girl, full realization dawned.
By the time The Boy came along a few years later, I’d acquired considerably more knowledge about the whole disagreeable history of white men’s maltreatment of women and people of ‘other’ racial, ethnic, religious, and economic status.
No. Forgive me. I’m being disingenuous.
I was raised in what was once considered the finest educational system yet created by humankind; American public schools. I completed my Bachelor degree after 8 rambling years of eclectic fields of study at several quality American institutions of higher learning. All my knowledge of the aforementioned abuses had been accumulating for decades.
I think it’s fair to say that, after the events described above (years of marriage, beginning my career as a PO, birth of The Girl), I had an epiphany, akin to what born-again Christians describe as their testimony, their conversion experience.
Then along came The Boy.
And I began to experience firsthand the concept of white male privilege enacted in real time. It may surprise you to learn that The Boy ain’t no angel (who among us is?), and neither are many of his buddies. I have been shocked, again and again, to see their misdeeds glossed over, whitewashed, indeed dismissed because “boys will be boys”. In retrospect, I can see how my own misdeeds were tolerated, often even encouraged, using the same rationale. I am saddened, sometimes sickened, by these revelations.
His mother, The Boss, and I endeavor daily to instill in him (and in The Girl, of course) the habits of kindness, compassion, and respect toward all. I’m sure the kids become tired of their old Dad’s pontificating.
But it’s not just empty preaching. When I’m able and it’s appropriate, I use my voice, via the platforms of this blog and my FaceBook page, to denounce reports of abuse of all kinds. It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me, personally or through my blog, that I often fall short of my lofty goals. I am human and flawed, as are we all. But I try and will continue striving, even when almost every day, it seems, the news is getting worse.
WordPress is a tolerant and supportive community, so I don’t think I’m exactly opening up a can of worms here, but I would like to hear y’all’s thoughts. Is the concept of white male privilege real? Or is it the product of overblown condemnation from a variety of repressed or abused groups? How much abuse, repression, or condemnation have you endured, and from whom did it come? Are the abusers worthy of forgiveness? Are they capable of repentance and change? Or is it useless to even hope for change, to hope for better?
My hope is that all of you enjoy a lovely week free from abuse and repression of all kinds.
Take care, be well, and happy blogging!
–Via Your Daily Word Prompt for 5/11/20, “trenchant”
–Via Your Daily Word Prompt for 5/10/20, “quiescent”
–Via Word of the Day challenge for 5/10/20, “mother”
–Via Ragtag Daily Prompt for 5/10/20, “disagreeable”
–Via Fandango’s One-Word Challenge for 5/10/20, “platform”
–Via Fandango’s One-Word Challenge for 5/9/20, “empty“