Criticism of most privileged mistaken for reverse-discrimination, is necessary

January 24, 2017

Audrey Jensen

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     “White men are the most discriminated group in the nation.”

     I couldn’t respectfully agree with this statement, which was confidently presented to me by a 60-something-year-old white male, who owns his own company, lives in a large house in Denver and is wealthy enough to pay for his kid’s college tuition.

     He could tell I was offended as he reassured me that he has been discriminated against for being privileged and well-off.

     “I worked my way up from the time I was a boy, when my family had no money,” he added.

     I didn’t downplay that he’s worked hard his entire life, but he didn’t stop to consider the fact that the opportunities he has are completely different than the opportunities given to men of a different nationality or to women.

     Identifying issues of inequality between those who are privileged and those who are less fortunate is not reverse-discrimination, as this man would like to believe. It is criticism.

     Criticism comes with a negative connotation, but without constructive criticism we do not become better, we do not change the way we are as a society.

     Maybe those who are the most privileged in this country are the most criticized, but they are certainly not the most discriminated against.

     In a 2016 Pew Research Center article, 61 percent of Americans said they believe we have a way to go before achieving racial equality while 31 percent believe we are already there.

     “…while majorities of blacks say racial discrimination, lower quality schools and lack of jobs are major reasons blacks in the U.S. may have a harder time getting ahead than whites, far smaller shares of whites hold those views.”

     If more people in positions of power and privilege stopped to look at society from another person’s perspective, the gaps in our perception of each other might lessen.

     While each person’s life comes with its own struggles, it doesn’t hurt to empathize with others.

     “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

     This was best stated in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was published in 1960.

     The most privileged in this country, whether that be people who are considered white or male, are criticized because of subconscious thoughts that we don’t realize is discrimination.

     I’ve watched my male coworkers, who didn’t ask for a promotion, have the opportunity to step up as managers, leaders and bosses at work while I had to work extra hard to fight for the roles I wanted.

I was demoted in one of my first jobs because I wasn’t “myself” or “bubbly enough” in my new role.

     Coincidentally, they brought in a man from a different location to fill my spot the same day. I was too naïve to realize what had happened until someone pointed it out to me.

     I shouldn’t have to label myself as feminist to believe in equal rights for genders, just as I shouldn’t have to label myself as anything to want equal rights for all races. It should come with being human.

     It’s not wrong to criticize our society and say that we still have issues when it comes to being comfortable in our bubbles.

     It’s easy to stop and think that because a lot of people are fighting for equality now that we have reached it. But when I meet people with the ideology of the older man, I feel the need to keep the conversation going.