Amy Roberts: Opposition vs. Oppression
Red Card Roberts
August 22, 2017
On the one hand, there's really nothing more to add to the discussion. On the other, how can I not?
It's been nearly two weeks since we were temporarily transported back to the 1950s, a time when racial segregation was on the brink of imploding, and a bunch of white people in hoods didn't like the idea of sharing a water fountain with someone of a different race.
Two weeks ago, they didn't wear hoods. But they wore enough hate for the more sane among us to wonder what their chief complaint really is. In the following news articles, online posts and interviews, white supremacists threw around the word "oppressed." I saw it, heard it and read it in nearly every justification they tried to give. Somehow, those white men are under the impression they are losing their rights. They seem to think equality works like pie — more for you must mean less for me. There is no understanding of the fact that giving someone else equal rights doesn't take any of their rights away.
And yet, they used the word oppressed more times than I can count. And I can't help but wonder how they would react to real oppression.
I have nothing against white men. I was raised by one, have worked for many, and even been in love with a few. There’s nothing wrong with being a white male. But there’s definitely something wrong with denying the privilege that comes with it.
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What would they do if they were forced to pay more for "male health insurance," or there was a travel ban prohibiting them from getting on a plane because of their skin color and gender? How would they respond if churches teamed up with politicians to legally annul their marriage? Or they were pulled over by police simply for driving too nice of a car? What if there was a movement to strip them of their vote? These "oppressed" men have never been paid 70 percent on the dollar, they have never had their bodies regulated. They do not have nightmarish memories of a burning cross on their lawn, or being told they were "asking for it" because of what they wore or how much they drank. There is no legislation being pushed through to ensure they use a specific bathroom.
These men, and anyone who sympathizes with them, aren't really concerned with oppression. They're concerned with opposition. If they are opposed, they are prevented from oppressing others. And that's what has them so angry. They like the privilege of being born a straight, white male and don't want to lose it.
And there is such a thing as white, male privilege. There are hundreds of case studies about Joe and Jose and Tim and Tyrone submitting identical resumes to the same companies, for the same positions. The only difference being the applicant's name. The resume with a name appearing to belong to a white man is called for an interview nearly three times more than the other. When both received a call, Joe and Tim were told the starting salary was much higher than Jose and Tyrone. The same research, with the same results, has been done with Allan and Alice, too. White male privilege is reflected in everything from loan approvals to prison sentences.
I have nothing against white men. I was raised by one, have worked for many, and even been in love with a few. There's nothing wrong with being a white male. But there's definitely something wrong with denying the privilege that comes with it.
White men are literally born on the lowest rung of the diversity ladder. To put it in baseball terms, they start out life on third base. The problem is, too many assume this means they hit a triple. They lack the compassion, or empathy or ability to understand others don't even start in the dugout. And for some, it's a long, dangerous, and painful walk just to get to the stadium.
There are certainly white men who acknowledge their privilege and work hard to equalize the playing field. Fortunately, there are more of these men than not. Unfortunately, one of them isn't currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
My hope is that the next time anyone hears a white man suggest he's being oppressed; they hand him a dictionary. And remind them, it is opposition they feel, not oppression.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.