I am a tall, healthy, heterosexual, white, male, middle-class American. I will earn more money over the course of my career than my female colleagues and my racially minority peers. I will have easier access to credit lines, continuing education, travel prerequisites, political office, housing opportunities, career advancement, and basically anything else that I may want. I am less likely to be arrested on suspicion of a crime, and if I have to wade through the judicial system, I am less likely to be convicted of a crime. Statistically, it is pretty fantastic being me. The game is rigged in my favor, and I have no complaints about it.
Try telling that to a high school student just learning to discover the way of the world.
For years, I was bitter and upset – genuinely angry – at minorities. I could name a litany of very active, outspoken, well-funded groups and organizations dedicated to supporting everyone but me. Finding an organization that supports blacks or women or homosexuals or poor or fat or short people was easy. There were clubs at the school to support many of the ethnically, economically, or gender disadvantaged students. When applying for college, there were scholarships for every category of person except me. It was very easy for me to feel angry and unsupported.
Once I got to college, it all sorted out, and I was able to put together all of the aforementioned advantages of my situation. It took some serious work to stop being angry, to no longer feel disadvantaged, to embrace the privilege, to support equality. I am very much past that part of my life, and am a better person for it. It was certainly a difficult journey and I still have some of the scars from the internal reshaping I had to endure. However, this is not a post looking for pity, this is a look forward.
I have found that this is a lesson that I need to teach my son as soon as he gets to a point where he might understand these things. He too is a white, tall, male, middle-class American – too soon to know if he will share the healthy and hetero traits, but statistics say he probably will. Before he can come to the same initial conclusions that I did, I will need to direct him to the reality of his situation, and ensure that he does not have a false perception of social inequality of support.
It is easy being me, but it is incredibly hard. Society supports me without forming organizations explicitly to support me; life is easy like that. In particular, it is extremely easy to just accept the status quo and carry on with life. However, it is also my responsibility to help anyone else that is not being supported by society; that is the hard part. As a member of the majority my moral role is to make it so that minorities do not need specialized support systems. Imagine the amount of money that could be saved if women and minorities no longer needed to advocate for equal treatment or considerations; or the amount of time these smart, dedicated personnel would be able to dedicate to other causes. This… this is the hard part.
I cannot do much, but what I can do is affect one person at a time; and I will be starting with my own child.