To the editors,
The recent articles and responses I have read over the last week to the controversial gun deaths in Florida (I will be honest and say I think these were clear murders) and the mistrial of Michael Dunn have left me completely exasperated. I am a white male living in America. I am not racist and I do not condone the harming or suppression of anyone for the color of their skin or who they love. However, almost every article I read lately specifically targets “white people” as one large group. I am tired of reading response after response to these tragedies stating something along the lines of “White America needs to take responsibility.” Racism is racism, regardless of what the color of your skin is. Hate is hate regardless of your sexual preference. Racism and hate are not isolated to white people and not all white people are racist or homophobic.
I did not grow up privileged because of the color of my skin or my gender. I have been discriminated against because of the color of my skin and my gender. I have been told flat out that I did not get a job by a recruiting firm because their female boss preferred to hire women only for all positions. In
response, I did not go out and claim that “women need to take responsibly and stop discriminating against men.” Instead, I thought poorly of the recruiter’s boss and other people who can’t objectively evaluate others.
Making general statements based on race or sexual orientation only encourages others to continue to separate people based on their differences. In Washington, DC, I am frustrated to see the construction of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Why isn’t this just an expansion of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History? Why do we have to continue to define ourselves by the color of our skin or our sexual orientation? At some point, we have to say that we are all Americans, that we are all people, and that racism is bad; hate is bad; and that they are not defined by or limited to the color of your skin or who you love.
Some people may say that I can’t possibly understand the inherent advantages I was given just by being born a straight white male. That I can’t understand because I am a white man. My response to these people is, what about when people used to make those same statements to your parents, grandparents, or even you? That they could not understand something because of the color of their skin or their gender? People who made such statements were wrong then and people who make such statements are wrong now.
It is not up to “White America” to stand up and lead or to take responsibility. It is up to those who can and are willing to lead to stand up and do so. And it is time for everyone in this country to stand up and define themselves as Americans.
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