Let Me Start by Saying…
by Lucas Witherspoon
Recently, I was labeled a racist by someone who I’ve been friends with for the past 15 years. Whereas I don’t consider myself a racist, it did make me wonder if my pacifistic egalitarianism has actually been a farce. After all, even though I’m a gay person, I’m still Caucasian and male, and, though I believe in the potential and equality of all human beings, the fact remains that, even as a person attracted to people of the same sex, I still have two advantageous, biological traits in a nation wrought with political and social sexism and racism working in my favor.
As much as I like to lean on my liberal credentials, the reality is I’ll never know from a personal standpoint what it’s like to be a gender or racial minority. What I can offer, however, is my own experiences as an LGBT minority as an attempt at understanding the plight of fellow minorities.
I’m not going to pretend to understand what it’s like to have your reproductive rights restricted, because, even though I’ve gone with female friends to have everything from their first birth control administered to having abortions, I have never personally had to face that reality, because I had the luxury of being born with a penis. The reality is you can’t simultaneously restrict women’s access to birth control while slut-shaming them for having abortions; having an abortion doesn’t mean a woman is somehow dishabille and/or a terrible human being, it means they’re mature enough to recognize they’re not presently responsible enough to properly offer the parental support every child deserves.
Similarly, I can never know what it’s like to be born a racial minority in a nation that, for all self-proclaimed patriots’ protests about being a country that was built upon the backs of underdogs where everyone should feel welcome, still openly discriminates against anyone who doesn’t share their exact melanin levels.
So, please, if ever you feel I’m “mansplaining” or being “racist,” point it out to me. My ego isn’t one that’s so fragile that I’m immune to expanding it. I’ve said it many times before, but without expanding your mind, there can never be progress, and I don’t want to be a person who ever stints potential social and intellectual advancement. This isn’t a white man’s plea to excuse my own ignorance; rather, it’s a white man’s plea to highlight when I’m unknowingly using my whiteness as a source of privilege to quell the likelihood my white privilege will present itself in the future.