I’m really describing myself. What’s different between today and when our country was started? If you had power, you were white, male and a property owner.
Women, people of color, the poor? Forget about it.
I have worked hard to accumulate some resources and build a respectable career. Along the way, I failed to recognize how my heritage, gender and opportunity played into my success. I see it now.
This is not a preachy, bash white people blog. Here are a few observations I have gathered.
Who do we elect to the highest offices? While it is diversifying, it’s still mainly white, privileged men, usually in the second half of their life. These are connected, well-financed members of a group not represented of America today.
I had no trouble getting into college. At the time, colleges in the state had to accept high schools graduates provided they met some minimum qualifications. If I was of color, I still would have gained admission, but I may not have attained the grades I did leading up to college. In America, we do not all start from the same place. My ascent was likely easier than others. That’s my point.
Why is my generation setting the agenda? Most elective bodies still lean toward older people, but that is changing. Part of it is they stay in office without term limits, staying beyond their expiration date. Age is also aligned with wisdom and stability, whether it is true, age conveys that in our society. Age also implies being invested in the community: roots, wealth, status quo, contribution, accomplishment.
Is maintaining the status quo a good thing? If you are protecting Jim Crow laws, no. Unfair tax policies? No. A flood of dark money into campaigns? No. A good quality of life where there is respect and opportunity for all? Yes. The status quo is not all bad or all good. America is like the rotation of the Earth. You do not notice it from minute to minute, but over the course of a day you see the results. The country is always in transition.
Voter suppression is a bad thing. Eliminating polling locations, restricting voting by mail, tampering with the USPS, purging voting records, sending out fake ballots and voting information, redrawing districts for strictly political reasons – these things are all happening in our country. Anything to win. Fair play? Apparently that is for suckers and losers.
As I am in the last quarter of my life, I want to see a more inclusive political process that more accurately represents America. Voting should be easy and safeguarded. Call me a senior, old fogey, a Boomer or whatever. My generation and demographics made huge contributions to this country. We also helped screw it up and encouraged the division we are experiencing today. We still have a voice, but we should not be the predominant voice.
Many of my generation preached peace, the environment and equality. Four-plus decades later we seem more concerned with the stock market, keeping protesters out of our neighborhoods, and eliminating crabgrass.
One thought on “Old, White, Privileged Guys”
Mike, I don’t know any other man of your (and my) generation that would publically acknowledge their white privilege. Men just don’t admit it.
Thank you for opening up the conversation, as uneasy and unpopular as it is.
I would add though that many of your accomplishments came unaided by any older white male paving a nice easy course for you.