Hey Whitey!

Posted by admin on August 14, 2017 in Culture |
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It appears that white men are in a ruckus these days. Just look at the nonsense that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend as a bunch of white guys carrying Walmart tiki torches chanted, “White lives matter.”

Now, I am the first to admit that I am a white man. It’s really hard to deny that. And quite frankly, I never give it a second thought when filling out a job application or similar government form. I check White when asked my race, unless they go with Caucasian, which at least sounds more exotic than being plain-old lily white.

It’s not my fault that I am a white man. To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit, I was just born that way.

There’s nothing I can do about it, outside of becoming a white woman.

Still, I tend to reject the stereotype when it is bandied about in the press or in social circles. I am hardly a typical white man, as I don’t have any chip on my shoulder, I don’t harbor any hatred and I don’t really care what color, creed, religion or orientation you are. Frankly, I have more important things to do while I’m still here on earth than worry about the “struggles” of white men.

But many of my fellow whiteys seem to feel lost in America these days. They are tired of minorities or foreigners “taking” their jobs or working for female bosses. They yearn for a much simpler time where men were men, women were pregnant and in the kitchen and everyone else knew their place.

I guess I missed those good old days somewhere along the way. I have always welcomed the idea of equality. Yes, it has cost me some jobs, largely because, again, I’m a white male, and hiring requirements for a position dictated that someone who wasn’t white or male got the job.

I don’t hold any grudges about this. The world changes and I have to change with it. I will say, however, that it is easier because I am one of them. You know, one of those college grads.

A lot of white men don’t seem to like my type. They even go so far as to call me an intellectual or a liberal.

I am neither. I grew up in blue collar Renton in a racist, lily-white family. I went to college mostly because I didn’t want to go to work when I was 18. It was an either/or proposition from my mom and I picked ‘or.’

Still, I admit to having a hard time fitting in with all these white men the media keeps talking about. They complain that all the working wage manufacturing jobs have been moved overseas and they are struggling to support their families. They say that if only we bring all those jobs back – and keep that statue of Robert E. Lee  – things will be much better.

It is to laugh. I don’t mean to be rude, but the whiteys aren’t living in the real world. They obviously haven’t been for the last 15 to 20 years. We are no longer a manufacturing economy. We are an information economy. The jobs, the money and the opportunities are in high tech, not manufacturing. Just ask any white millennial whose a programmer.

There are a couple reasons for this. First, the last thing any company wants to do is add a worker to its payroll. Human resources, i.e., people, are the biggest cost for a business and a decent paying job with benefits is not something any company looks forward to adding. Second, the U.S. economy historically makes these major shift.

At one time, workers made stuff by hand and then machines came along in something called the Industrial Revolution and suddenly all those craftsmen at the turn of the 19th century were out of a job.

And now, manufacturing has moved overseas because as customers, these same white men who pout about losing their jobs would lose their minds in Walmart if an American-made DVD player suddenly cost them $500 instead of $75.

You can’t have it both ways. The economy can’t grow and expand and still remain the same. It is the very essence of a capitalist economy to continually change and adapt. If it doesn’t, it languishes and dies.

Some people invariably get left behind. I get it. Changes in energy usage in this country and abroad have nearly destroyed coal mining as an industry in this country. This change has been coming for years, even decades. Yet, coal miners in rural parts of the country stand there with their mouths agape, wondering why they can’t feed their families.

As a white man, I’ve had my share of career-altering events. If I hadn’t changed with the times, I would still be trying to be a journalist in an age where newspapers are folding like origami. I retrained, I turned on a dime to where the future was going. My father taught me this lesson because he failed to do the same. We ended up in poverty because he world of a TV repairman went from vacuum tubes to transistors and he didn’t change with the times. He lost his business and livelihood as a result.

You don’t see me complain about any of this as now I am both white and old. Hard lessons along the way have taught me that I need to shift with the tides and row towards the next opportunity with reckless abandon rather than turn circles in a cesspool of inaction as the winds of the economy turn against me. (Sorry, I really wanted a sailing analogy in this somewhere)

Yes, I feel sorry that your $25 an hour manufacturing job in a shoe factory in Kentucky is gone. I am sorry that you still live in the small town you grew up in and haven’t done anything in the last 20, 30 or 40 so years to learn something new or at least pay attention to where the world economy was going.

Like the cobbler at the turn of the 19th century who gave up his job to your mechanized shoe factory, factories overseas have now taken your job because they can make shoes cheaper. No, it’s not fair and you can be angry. But don’t blame others for your misfortune. Don’t turn your anger into hatred for others who aren’t a whitey like you, and don’t assume that I should share your view of what America is, or should be, because I have the same skin color.

Instead, maybe you should question your own choices along the way. Choices have always been there, you know. We weren’t born into a caste system. We decided what our lives would be like. Perhaps you just decided to take the easy route, working your 9 to 5 factory job, drinking Buds in the local bar with your buddies after work and toasting the good life you had as the world passed you by.

All good things must come to an end, even the glory days of a white-centric and often whites-only existence. Have a last, long toast to your past, but don’t try to get me to listen to your sad tale of woe. I’m not listening.

In the Emerald City, working hard for the money while always looking for the next land of opportunity,

– Robb

 

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