Today I saw this on Twitter…
As a formerly handsome, sort of white man (ask any Nazi, Jews ain’t white), who gained limited semi-fame for his humor, I was offended.
My immediate thought was to angrily call her out for her bigotry. But I realized that could just get me yelled at and threatened online, and possibly even jeopardize my job. And I felt very frustrated until it made me realize she had subtly turned the tables on me.
Had a white man said something similarly offensive about pretty black women 100 years ago, few if any black women would have publicly taken him to task for it because they all knew it could put them and their families in both economic and physical danger. They would have had to shut up and take it, like I was doing.
Before you think I’m comparing myself to a black woman in the 20s, I’m not. I sat at a bar as I read that, not a bar that was the only one in town that would serve Jews and I didn’t have to be escorted by a woman to protect me from being raped or propositioned. Tomorrow I would be driven in a nice car to the airport where I’d still have to fly coach (thanks to Amazon frugality), but wouldnt have to fly in a Jews only section of the plane or get bumped from the flight if a white man wanted my seat.
In essence, the only aspect of my white privilege she’d taken from me, was the ability to take retribution for a slight without fear of consequence. Meanwhile, I could only imagine the crude and violent things being said to her in DMs or other channels while angry white men without any fear of consequence took her to task for it publicly. I can’t say how many she got, but I’m sure she either got or will get rape and death threats… because that’s how the Internet works for women who say something men don’t like. And someone might even complain to her employer to try to get her fired.
And that is where the comparison of her saying that in 2020 and a white man saying something similar in 1920 falls apart. Because that guy in 1920 would have had little if any consequences. She’s going to get a lot of abuse for it.
And I think about my anger at a minor, inconsequential, impersonal slight. Then I think about how much privilege I took for granted today… take for granted every day. And there’s no comparison of our positions in society. I get to walk through life not having to take the abuse she does, thanks to my privilege. And that is something I have to work to change, not by accepting abuse against handsome white men, but by helping to end it against women and people of color.