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Opinion: What Is It Like to Be a White Man in America?

Updated on June 1, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Social issues can only be remedied by a collective acceptance of those opinions we view as opposing our own.

This isn't about race, it is about human decency and unity against oppression.
This isn't about race, it is about human decency and unity against oppression. | Source

In my previous article, "Why Are Americans So Racist?" I decided to explore the anti-white sentiments going around during these violent protests. All my quotes shall remain anonymous for the posters' safety, as well as my own. Anti-white racism, as of right now, is becoming an acceptable form of expression by a myriad of different people; generally speaking, I'm concerned as I watch these patterns from history repeating themselves.

As these patterns of the birth of racist movements continue to grow in existence and transparency, part of the growth is also silencing the targets of the racism. One of my favorite arguments I'm seeing from self-proclaimed anti-racists is, "All lives matter is a racist statement," and in conjunction with everything else I've been reading I'm not sure people are very self-aware, if at all. I'm scared for what the future holds for not only my country, but myself as a fair-skinned man, when people cannot stand up for the value of all lives at the same time.

This all began with the murder of George Floyd, an issue of police brutality and negligence that was quickly turned into a veritable race war.

Standing up for white lives during a time of crisis like this is a sign of silent racism, and if you can't stand with your black brothers and sisters without question then you would be best off remaining silent altogether. This isn't about police brutality against everyone, this is about the black community. I'm sorry that the privilege of being white makes you see the hatred towards white people as racism. It isn't racism, it is nothing less than justice.

— Anonymous inspiration for this article

For Those Who Try to Remain Ignorant

There is a very big issue in America as it concerns defining terms and phrases, especially as it concerns racism. Too many people, somehow, still think that you cannot be racist against white people. Even further, asking them to define racism, they cannot seem to separate themselves from the, "white vs. black," narrative that the racist American media pushes every opportunity they get to do so.

So, what is the actual definition of racism? The definition of racism is:

"The belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized."

Now let's break that down a little further by snipping out a piece and putting it in big bold letters here, "typically one that is a minority or marginalized."

As it concerns the topic of police brutality, the type of police brutality we saw with George Floyd, I didn't see a white man killing a black man until the racist American media turned my fellow Americans into racist anti-racists. What I saw was a police officer high on his own power, power he shouldn't have been allowed in the first place, kneeling atop a defenseless American as his complicit team watched on. I saw a piece of the marginalized minority in America being murdered for no reason, and that marginalized minority are those of us who have experienced police brutality firsthand.

Now when I sit here calling for the police and the world as a whole to recognize that all lives matter, that we have a police brutality issue here in America and around the world, I have to sit and contend with being silenced because my skin color automatically deems me a racist in the ignorant perceptions of an increasing majority. I'm part of the marginalized minority here in America, as a white citizen because people seem to care so much about race while claiming they're anti-racist, and I don't want to be silenced because of my skin color. I want to speak out against police brutality against all races, and the division and derision those in power sow among us.

We are all equal under the boot of oppression.
We are all equal under the boot of oppression. | Source

Acknowledging white privilege doesn't mean that you haven't suffered. It means you haven't suffered because of your race.

— Anonymous

A White Man's Experience With Police Brutality—Both Physical and Emotional

The first time I ever had a run-in with the law was in junior high, about 6 AM in the morning as I awaited the bus to school with all my friends, and a cop just so happened to be rolling through our all-white suburban neighborhood. Though I don't think it should matter, I am going to play into this anti-racist game people are playing and say that the officer was Hispanic. As he rolled by, slowly and glaring out of his passenger window that was now rolled down as he approached, my friend thought it would be funny to say, "Smells like bacon!"

Before we could even laugh, the cop did a burnout up the street and did a skidding 180, rushing back to pull his car up onto the curb. Stepping out of the car he was already yelling, "Who said it?! Huh, who said that?!" and everyone clammed up but the officer.

"Oh, so you're brave enough to talk when I'm driving by but now that I'm here you're too scared, huh?! Everyone sit the f&%$ down on the curb!"

Two of the kids there, both white females, failed to comply because they were going to leave to get their parents. The officer grabbed them both by the arm and, essentially, threw them into a sitting position. One of the girls fell to her back, spilling the contents of her purse all over the ground upon impact.

This cop, now seemingly filled with the satisfaction of having thrown around a couple of white girls, proceeded to lecture us on how we spoke to the cops. Granted, no one had said anything except, "Smells like bacon!" but he continued to yell until someone rolled up and asked if we were all okay. The cop said everything was fine with a smile on his smug face, but he could tell the driver wasn't buying it, so shortly thereafter the cop got back in his car and left.

His last, weak quip was, "I'll be keeping my eye out for all of you, watch your backs!"

You're white. What the f&%$ do you know about discrimination? Racism? Being killed by the cops? You don't know s&%$, sit down and shut the f&%$ up.

— Anonymous

My next run-in with the law came in high school, a privileged competitive school where crime was a foreign concept to most kids outside of drugs and underage sexual relations. You see, our campus cop, Lance Christensen, had an absolutely unhealthy obsession with finding narcotics and other illegal things on children that he hid behind a veil of feigned concern. He had it out for me after the first time he ever falsely accused me of being on drugs, and my subsequent pursuance of consequences for his actions.

It was freshman year and it was time for finals, I had been forced by my abusive mother to stay up the night before using my prescription Adderall and I had been studying all night. First off was biology class, which I aced the final for despite my weary state, and it's the same class that Lance will accuse me of never having attended. Next was study period, which I decided to sit outside for and get some sun rather than go into a class; my friend Kyle, a homely but respectable boy, would join me in studying.

There I sat with my math book trying to make sense of FOIL and PEMDAS as it concerned quadratic equations, where Kyle was studying his history book. Up rolls the good ole yard duty who says, "You guys look really sick, you need to come with me," and so did we hop on the back of their lazy-person golf cart and get hauled off to the office. Upon arrival I was taken to Lance himself, while my friend Kyle sat with his secretary.

As Kyle sat with the secretary, she asked him, "You don't look too good. Are you on something?"

Kyle, a kid known to detest drugs and alcohol, responded sadly but kindly, "I'm just ugly, ma'am," and that was the end of their conversation with him.

While Kyle was being told he looks terrible, a horrible thing to say to a kid let alone judging someone by their appearance to begin with, I was sitting in the office being accused of things I did not do by Lance.

During this debacle, being questioned as a minor without representation, Lance accused me of: Selling drugs, possessing drugs, being on drugs, skipping class, smoking on campus, and encouraging my friend to lie to an officer of the law. All of which were false accusations on the grounds that both myself, and my friend, looked tired and disheveled. Of course I denied all of it, and explained my mother had made me take Adderall the night before to stay up and study and that I was in biology class that very morning.

Fast forwarding they tried to drag me out of school in cuffs, to take me to the hospital for drug testing, but my dad showed up and stopped that mess. Nothing was found except my prescription medication in my system. Reporting all of this ridiculousness to the school got Lance a few slaps on the wrist and made him focus his sights on me even harder.

Six more times Lance would have me dragged out of class, into his office, and/or forcibly searched for no reason other than he did not like me; he would find nothing, and accuse me of getting rid of evidence I never had. I wasn't the only one, either; this is how he regularly found small infractions that he would then conflate with others for his own reputation. Watching your friends get dragged out of class for no reason, with no apologies, and then people celebrating Lance keeping the school safe was a common occurrence at our school.

These false accusations, arrests, and subsequent denial of blame on Lance's part led to multiple suicides of students who attended the school. They never wrote down their grief, the grief caused by this disgusting excuse of an officer, but they spoke to those of us who really cared for them. Adolescent suicide is just another product of police exercising their powers where they shouldn't have any.

White people can never know what it is like to be stopped by the cops strictly because of your skin color. It only happens to black people. Check your privilege white folk.

— Anonymous

The last experience of mine I would like to touch on is one of what many could accurately call racial profiling. It was on my way to school once more, this time it was senior year, and I had just stepped off the public bus and started heading toward the mall. A strange place to go for school, I know, but at this point I was in independent study and the chosen domicile of the study was within the mall.

Just as I started heading up the drive toward the mall a cop was pulling in across the street, and he gave me a glare before burning out up the road and into the parking garage. He emerged on the other side and pulled his car up onto the sidewalk in front of me. After radioing for backup, this Hispanic officer asked, "How's it going, where you heading?"

"On my way to school," I responded reluctantly. I knew this wasn't a normal stop, so I was ready to comply with anything the officer wanted.

"School at the mall?" he questioned as he walked toward me and I responded in the affirmative, "That's weird, why don't you have a seat on the curb for me?"

Only having books and pens in my possession I asked him if I could just empty everything out and have him search me so we could get this over with.

"Yeah sure," he responded, "but let's wait for my partner first."

His Hispanic partner arrived shortly thereafter, and with my stuff sprawled all over the pavement I was asked to remove my shirt. This was extremely uncomfortable, and seemingly inappropriate, but I followed the instructions.

"We are going to take a picture of your defining marks, okay?" they asked, and I responded in the affirmative as if I had any other choice. They posed me strangely, getting pictures of my scars and blemishes, making me look like a fool as the morning commuters stared while they drove by.

"Thanks, you're free to go!" they ended with abruptly.

"Wait, but why did you guys stop me?" I asked, having just been made a fool of for what seemed like no reason.

"We had a report of a home invasion in the area. The guy was white and wearing a beanie. You matched the description is all."

I understood, if not also felt a bit violated and profiled, why they would stop me. Having been made late to school I asked them for a ride up to the mall, and for them to talk to my teacher. They refused the ride but said they'd see my teacher, which they never did and I got in trouble.

Profiling is an all-races issue, a human issue, not one that belongs solely to the "colored" population.

Have you ever witnessed/experienced law enforcement overstepping their power boundaries?

See results
Stop making it about race. To quash racism is to accept all races.
Stop making it about race. To quash racism is to accept all races. | Source

I would say that straight white people have no issues in this country. Not racial, not gender related, and pretty much not anything discrimination driven. They have no place to have a voice in this, and they should be using their privilege to spread the voice of the black community only.

— Anonymous

So, What Is It Like Being a White Man in America?

From what I can observe within my own life, because I in no way want to speak on behalf of others, is that being white in America becomes a social crime whenever the media wants it to be. Speaking out as a white man, it becomes a social crime whenever you want others to not be racist against white people. Being white becomes a social crime when you want all lives to be valued, not divided on the grounds of race.

Of the thousands of posts, comments, and memes I have read, I have only provided you with but a sliver of the racism I am witnessing. If I could, I would provide the calls to violence against white people that are coming from organizations backed by both public and private funding. Alas, I would be banned if I included the most prominent and hateful things being said.

Think about that for a second, I can't even speak out about the racism because my chosen platforms won't allow such language to be used. Increasingly, we are seeing social and media platforms silence all of its users they decide don't toe the line of their agenda. All the while the racism can go on unabated, because systemic racism is about dividing every race.

Do you want to be anti-racist, truly and utterly, for the good of all people? Are you willing to do what it takes to stand up to racist people? Can you handle the responsibility of staving off racism in all its disgusting forms?

Stand up and destroy racism against every race, and condemn any that would seek to use race as a means of division and derision! Systemic racism is targeting everyone!

Though I may go out and protest, writing is the only place I truly have a voice right now. People want to stand on my throat so that I can't speak, simply because of my skin color; and I'm tired of pointing out the systemic racism only to be told my white skin makes my opinion valueless. It's upon you, the anti-racists, to stop seeing the world in color and put the blame where it belongs.

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    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      I'd say the reason you have that perception is because most cops are white. Racial discrimination within many police forces is also a standard operating procedure explained away by calling it, "discretion," and that further fuels that perception.

      A strange way to feel about female cops, as my worst experiences have been with them but I didn't want to make this about gender anymore than I already have. The only times a cop has put a gun in my face, and/or to the back of my neck, was when a female cop misconstrued my questioning as resistance and again when it was dark and they received a report of a white person looking in house windows that I was found miles from despite being on foot.

      I do agree with the perception on minority officers, however, that they have something to prove. Many of those whom I've spoken to actually come from a gang background, or a gang environment, and having experienced the terrors gang violence can cause drew them to the side of, "justice." Having experienced gang violence myself had me pursuing a degree in criminal justices for a while, but then I realized the system is absolutely broken and I couldn't enforce what I was being taught without letting go of much of what i consider civil behavior.

      No matter the color of the officer, I assume them to be a bad cop; just like I was trained to do walking down the street at night, I assume that at any moment anyone is capable of attacking me. It is a false perception, but one that I think all humans share, where you perceive the unfamiliar as possibly dangerous; and unfamiliar can mean color, height, tone, environmental context, a lack of awareness, etc.

      I thank you for your comment, it made me think about a lot. You've left a lot of them as well, and in case we have any miscommunications I'm going to self-identify my auditory and visual processing disorder right now. If you feel I've missed something in our conversation, or didn't answer it, I ask that you repeat the question clearly and concisely because I'm probably unable to comprehend what is being asked.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      13 months ago from Surprise, Arizona

      I have always believed that class plays a bigger role in the criminal system than race. Blacks tend to live in more lower-class areas as a group, so we get the cops who are law enforcement instead of the neighborhood cop, peace officers. I don't live in a Black community, so I rarely see crime. It is well hidden where I live.

      I have never been treated as you have by police, but I read and hear the stories of people who have. Those stories make me fear the police, even though my interactions have only been positives, even when I lived in the Black community.

      I am more afraid of the minority cops because I fear they have something to prove. When I see a lack officer, I feel strangely glad and terrified at the same time. I know it can go one of two ways, he will be cool with me or he will assume I am a punk and need to be checked. With White cops, I never know what to expect unless the cop is a woman. I assume female cops are going to be fair, no matter the race.

      I have been pulled over dozens of times by white male cops with positive experiences for each one. The media is who turned my experiences into nothingness with reports of people who look like me being killed in police custody. No matter what color the officer is, I imagine the bad cop as a White male who likes to kill or hurt minorities. I don't know how to change that false perception.

      I also believe cops like to harass young people, especially teens no matter their race.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      I suppose all we can do is push for equality in every facet where it is lacking and would do the most good. Where others prefer sensationalism and division, we can call for unity and truth. Then again, the media is a powerful tool of manipulation and there are many who are happy the way things are going.

      Perhaps a question for the philosophers, how to really enact change.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      13 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I tend to feel issues get too commercialized in the media and honesty often gets muddled and lost. I feel the frustration, too.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      @MG: I'd say it points to the ones in power who'd rather their citizenry be divided, than united against their oppressors. With Trump ordering the violent disbursal of peaceful protesters for a photo op, we can all see that our pleas mean nothing to those in the highest positions of power. Then rather than push the house and senate to pass meaningful legislation, they go out and smear each other.

      To give credit where credit is due, however, racism has seen the black community in America marginalized economically, socioeconomically, and geographically. That isn't a blacks-only issue, though, as it is also one with Native Americans, Mexicans, Asians, and even the many foreigners who come to live here. Companies such as Kia, which are predominantly Asian-owned, deny other-than-Asian races jobs now strictly due to race (I'd have to write an entire article on the discussion I had with Kia executives).

      We have an all-races issue in America, one that has stemmed from the rich and their trickle-down cruelty as far back as the beginning of aristocracies. An issue with so many facets that the only solution is for the infrastructure to be destroyed and rebuilt. That destruction can be slow and methodical, or it can be bloody and brutal.

      It's all up to those in power to undo the tyranny, and it is up to the people they govern to force their hand. Those of us worried about foreign agents and their undoings of good for their country's sake will have to continue our endeavors to throw a wrench in those works as well.

      Extremely complex, and regularly unfair topic.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      @Gilbert: I'm actually pondering whether or not to do individual articles on every single race, but running it past my talk groups we've all agreed that would catch more flack than sticking to the issues I can experience for myself. We are seeing a lot of people, including to myself and others, saying that whites shouldn't have a voice in any of this but use their position of white privilege to only spread the voice of the black community.

      This brought up the question, a question which had me labelled racist because of my skin color, "When will it be relevant to discuss anti-white racism, if not right now when it is occurring?"

      To which I was told I was a racist, because my ancestors were racist. Ignorance abounds, and I'll only go so far as to agree that the severity and context of the racism is different. I'll never have the patience for racism, except the patience to fight against in the face of a racist onslaught.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      13 months ago from Singapore

      Kyle, this is a well written and brave post. The point is that racism experiences depend from person to person. I grant that a White could suffer at the hands of the police but statistics point as a percentage of greater no of blacks being harassed than white. I wonder with a population of just 15% of America why 70% of inside jails are black. .Its a question of perception but to see how one looks one has to look at the mirror. I am afraid the mirror tells a lot about race relations in America. There seems to be pent up anger in society among both blacks and whites and what does this point to?

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      13 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Kyler, I've had experiences with good policemen, and I admit I've had confrontations with cops overstepping their ground. I understand your anger. I don't like they're using the George Floyd incident to create racial division. Don't get me wrong. I hear good people say, "white skin, brown skin, black skin, we're all Americans." That's the way it should be. I think this riot incident occurs at the worst possible time. Many rioters totally forgot about social distancing. A jogger from Georgia was tracked down and murdered by two white men. And no one can disagree a white police officer in Minnesota suffocated a black man to death. Horrible timing! Blacks have a horrible history with police. I like to get along with everyone, and I'm sure you do, too, Kyle. Right now, we have to struggle and be patient with racial issues as if Code 19 isn't enough.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      14 months ago from California

      I appreciate your support of my writing, John, it has already gotten me quite a lot of flack. Apparently it is racist to give the perspective that all lives matter, regardless of race; and to worry about everyone's oppression rather than just one race's means you want to silence black people.

      If only we could all rally around human spirit, rather than following the media's divisive idea that not all races are equal, even in their oppression.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      14 months ago from Gondwana Land

      A good article, Kyler. Thank you for being brave enough to write it. I do agree that this is an issue.

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