How many times do you see this complaint online?
“I’m sick of being called racist just because I’m white.”
Wherever there’s an article, blog post, tweet, or video discussing racism, I find about twenty examples of that exact comment (assuming that I dare read the comments). It might actually be the most common phrase uttered in defiance of political correctness (even more common than “I identify as an attack helicopter”). Its cousin, “I’m sick of being called sexist just because I’m a man,” is almost as prevalent. It seems to be a widespread belief among disgruntled white men on the web, that progressives hold them personally responsible for all the injustice in the world.
That would certainly explain why they seem to hate progressives so much. Why there is such anger directed at the social justice movement, feminism especially. Yes, this simple misconception could be the root to all of that. The spark that’s led to a wildfire of online antagonism in recent years. So, today I’m going to try and refute it:
No one is asking you to hate yourself for your privilege. No one is calling you a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, or a transphobe simply because you’re not black, female, gay or trans. Okay, I’m sure some people do that, but they’re in a minority. Most progressives are merely asking you to listen to those who are less fortunate than you. To make an effort to understand their problems and not be part of them. To educate yourself about the structures within society that benefit you at their expense. To counteract those structures. That’s the message you should take with you, when you read a column about the issue of manspreading, or an article about ethnic discrimination in the workplace. It’s not a personal attack.
You’re not racist because you’re white. You’re not sexist because you’re a man. You are, however, in a position of relative power, and those who lack that power are urging you to use it wisely. So, the next time you read an angry tweet about stupid white men who do racist and sexist things, remember: you get to decide whether or not they are talking about you.