The Future of Discrimination: White Male

I’ve been waiting for this article. Perhaps there have been others espousing similar points of view, but leave it to some brilliant graduate student of philosophy, of all things, to express what I’ve been guessing at all along: the blame the white narrative is getting much more pointed.

Here’s the article if you want to read it. Not at all a surprising addition to the back list of of Huntington Post. You may want to read it before eating, though it might prove an effective means of losing one’s appetite. HUFFPOST South Africa

If you want to be spared the gross negligence your eyes may suffer while reading it, let me summarize. This forward-thinking philosophy student is posing the question of whether it’s time to put a moratorium on white male voting. This is coming from the post-Apartheid South African context. The reason for disenfranchising the white males, even for a period of 20 years as she suggests, is to redistribute wealth that white males have stolen over the years (stolen through capitalism, cronyism, white male privilege and other such ways, I suppose) so that a fair and equitable society can emerge. It would be a positive, long overdue step to help right the wrongs of the past.

I’ve seen this coming, this philosophy, this radical departure from sanity. And it won’t take long for some far-flung politician to pick it up and throw it in the debate arena. The push will be slow and steady until one government, undoubtedly democratically elected, will inch towards compensation, demanding a wide range of actions meant to address historical grievances against the white male.

In full disclosure, I am a white male. I’ve lived the last twenty years in different cultures, working alongside people from all backgrounds, creeds, and ethnicity. I’ve been in schools where diversity isn’t lauded, it’s a simple backdrop of life. My first child was five years old when she finally realized that all her friends had black hair. There is a movement in the world, there are people in the world, there are day to day interactions in this world which have come to the point where differences and backgrounds and colors and creeds and social envy means nothing because everyone is treated the same.

This is what real progress looks like. I’ve seen it, and yes, I know the world is not a dreamy-eyed utopia and it never will be. There are problems. But hearkening backwards looking for villains who happen to be white and male is the essence of anti-progress. You do not compensate historical grievances by stripping people of rights. You can not further progress by ripping apart one of the modern world’s founding tenets of progress: universal suffrage.  I just wish a certain graduate student would realize that philosophy is dead if this is the best you can come up with. Heaven help us if this is the future of education. Heaven help us if this is the future of our world.

Perhaps I’ll discover it was all a mistake. A piece of brilliant satire. But I doubt it, because I knew it was coming.

On a brighter note, this world of ours continues to be an unending source of new writing materials. I guess I should thank her for that. Now let me get to work on that new play. A satire, perhaps.

My White Face Opens Doors

I was reading earlier in the week that several people have been pondering the meaning of the word “expat” and why the definition of expat seems to include only white westerners who are living in a foreign country, while everyone else would be referred to as immigrants. As an expat myself for much of the past twenty years, it’s an interesting question and has many important features to ponder. It touches on difficult topics of race, ethnicity, colonialism, white privilege, socioeconomic status as well as many possible areas. It’s a lot to consider and nothing a short blog post will be able to do justice to.

However, I do have to acknowledge that my white face opens doors. Today I had a perfect example of this. For the past couple of hours, I’ve been buzzing around Georgetown (Penang) checking out the Chinese New Year decor. When it was time to find a restroom, I, without putting any thought into it whatsoever, walked into a hotel, through the lobby and to their bathroom near the first floor restaurant. I made no gesture towards any of the hotel’s commercial endeavors. I simply walked in, used the restroom, and walked out.

The doorman didn’t notice me. The front counter reception barely glanced my way. The other guests milling around in the lobby didn’t have any sort of shocked look on their faces. I was a six-foot three, white American in a Southeast Asian country and yet it was if I was an invisible man – completely blending into my surroundings.

I bring this up because my face, at that moment of entry, acted as my “passport” into that hotel. I conjecture that the homeless person sleeping across the street wouldn’t have been afforded such a safe passage. In fact, while the hotel has guests from a multi-cultural background, I’m confident that not just anyone of any color or dress would have been treated (or in my case – not treated at all) that way.

It’s an uncomfortable truth of living here. I enjoy certain privileges simply because I have more means than some. At the same time, I will be the first to admit that I am no better, and often times much worse, than my fellow humans. There’s nothing magical about having a white face, but yet I must admit that there is a difference. I’ve experienced it numerous times in my time in Asia.

Expats live a good life, but there is nothing I hate worse than a spoiled expat who believes that he or she deserves that good life. I’ve seen my fair share of those kind of people, unfortunately. Like the time when an expat I knew was complaining about a power outage and yelled, “I deserve electricity! I’m American!” It was cringe-worthy.

Or the snide comments about how “they do things here.” A little patronizing, perhaps?

May we all come to the place in our lives when we can look at another human being and realize that they are another human being – no different from ourselves and race and socioeconomic status means nothing.

We’re humans. We might as well act like them.