**Disclaimer: I am identifying my place as a man of privilege, someone who is white (or Jewish, who passes as white). The following is my attempt to contribute to the public discourse, and offer thoughts as a part of the marketplace of ideas.**
“I’m ashamed to be a white man.” I’ve seen that posted on a number of occasions on social media, written by liberal-minded individuals who are struggling to come to terms with how our demographic voted during the election. An astonishing percentage of Trump’s support came from white males, and his presidency feels like a threat to anyone but men of privilege.
This shame is popular these days. White men are reminded often to check their privilege, to identify their opportunities that others don’t have. They are also cautioned against mansplaining, a loosely defined term for any time a man talks down to a woman. The long-time male dominance of public discourse is being tempered by others using their voices to put men in their place and create more space for others in a conversation.
That all being said, nothing is more worthless than being ashamed of one’s race and gender. Just as minorities and women can’t choose their race or sex, neither can a white male. To be ashamed of it is a waste of time. Instead, we need to take responsibility for our behavior and our actions and do more to advocate for the way others should act. We cannot choose our demographic identity, but we can control what we do with it.
The role of white men in constructing a more equal, caring society is not to simply be ashamed of ourselves, or even to be silent and let others figure it out. Advocacy is most effective when members of the comfortable majority are willing to break ranks and be helpful to lift up those fighting for power. Our job is to listen and to offer support. And it is also our role to call out injustice wherever it exists and demand better from the world.
This is not someone else’s problem, and shame is not a helpful solution. Instead, we need to figure out ways to be willing partners to racial minorities and other gender identities to ensure that the voices of all come together to create a path to justice and peace.
I am not ashamed of who or what I am. But my actions going forward are how I will be judged, and I need to ensure that I’m doing all that I can to ensure that the world is a better place BECAUSE of me, rather than DESPITE me.