When I hear people say that they’re tired of having to apologize for being white, male, heterosexual and protestant or Catholic, it’s another way of saying, “Stop blaming me for who I am.”
In fact, they have just stepped into the shoes of someone being blamed for what they cannot change: the very qualities that make them up. If you are blamed for being the white, male, heterosexual protestant or Catholic that you are, these are traits that you own and which define you. You don’t like being blamed for who you are and to this I say, welcome to the club. You have arrived. Nobody likes to be blamed for being what they are.
It’s interesting to see this “new” group reacting with outrage to what has been going on for years/decades/ages for others. After just a few years of intense scrutiny, this outrage has gone from zero to 60 in a short time, relative to the outrage of other groups maligned for who they are and what they cannot change. The life-altering issues of wage inequity, the bridling of employment opportunities, housing discrimination: the list is long and the pain goes far into the past. The “new” bucking is all the more vehement because it represents something unknown for this group.
But does this bucking mean that their outrage forms its own untouchable haven? If the surrounding society says that it does, doesn’t that begin to skim the edges of privilege? Why would this group get to end the discussion immediately just because they’re outraged? If this group’s outrage has overwhelming currency and just on its own slaps down the outrage of others, then nothing has been gained for the society at large.
When I lived abroad many years ago, I had the chance to live and feel prejudice against me for my nationality. I was criticized personally for things going on in the world, both at that time and prior to it. I had never pondered in such an intimate way how certain historical and political facts were received but what I got out of that was the sting of being blamed for something that I couldn’t change: the place I was born. As a white person, I might not have had the opportunity to feel the blow or even the whisper of prejudice against me.
Let’s think about how it feels to be judged or accused for something beyond our control. Let’s not just dismiss being targeted, say that it’s illegitimate, buck and hide behind outrage. Let’s take this as an opportunity to see what it’s really like to be a target of how or who or where we were born. Let’s make a bigger tent. Welcome to the club.