Straight white men.
Straight white wealthy men.
The most privileged of the world are straight white, wealthy males. There is a hierarchy to society that leave a great number of people being labeled just because of their differences.
I’ve read many posts from actors where they speak out about the way comments are made about the roles they take on. Women are told that they play “strong female roles.” Men are never told they played a strong male role because its a societal norm for men to be strong.
The world does not praise those who are different but praise those who have sameness or have qualities that do not evoke fear. Look around you. If a person of Middle Eastern descent commits a crime, it’s automatically labeled “terrorism.” If an African American commits a crime, it’s likely “gang-related.”
There is this subconscious believe in some people that everyone NEEDS to be the same; act the same, dress the same, speak the same, look the same and simply be the same. The moment any of the differences in culture, behavior or experience comes to the surface, an individual becomes negativities of the group they belong to and therefore is an immediate threat. What would the world look like if we were all the same and had the same privilege? We may not have all of the beautiful things we have today.
I remember a few months ago, I was walking down the street to work in the early morning and stopped to get an Iced coffee. When I left the coffee shop, there was a caucasian woman leaving the building next door so she was slightly ahead of me. We were walking in the same direction so it appeared like I was walking behind her. It was apparent that we were going to the same building because we both walked down the side street where there is only one door. There I was, minding my own business (I usually have a pep in my step and walk while humming), when the woman does a 180 turn and stands on the corner while I continue on. The door is some times sticky so I turn to ask her if she had trouble with the door. I figured she wanted to see if I could get in first. She returns a snarky remark, i wish not to repeat, so I turn away and continue to my destination. After a beat, she comes into the building. This made me sad. She assumed I wanted to harm her; that I was following her and that was not the case. I would never harm anyone but I know that strangers don’t know that. But it hurt my feelings because I never thought I gave a threatening vibe. I mean that day, I was in business attire, had a coffee in my hand, a smile on my face and a song on my tongue.
I thought about all the what-ifs that day. What if I were a man? What if I were older? what if I were white? Would she have reacted in the same way? I will never know the answers to my questions but I know there is a hierarchy to society that need to be broken down.
It makes me sad that a person who commits a crime can be seen in a different light based on race and/or ethnicity. The fact is that a person who commits a crime is a troubled individual and their reasons for committing the crime need to be based on that individual and not the minority group they may or may not belong to.
How do we fix this? That is definitely the million dollar question. There isn’t a person in the world that is immune to making judgements based on stereotypes but it’s what we do with those judgements that makes the difference. It’s impossible to go through life without absorbing the fears of the privileged but we all need to acknowledge those fears and look at people for who they are as individuals and not as the group.
Would you chop down the whole orchard just because of one bad tree? Think about it. You would treat the tree or get rid of the tree if there is nothing that can be done. We need to value life… all life.