Old White Guys

The carving at Stone Mountain.

As a soon-to-be old white guy, I’m here to say, our time in the sun is rapidly coming to a close. Oh, don’t worry, a lot of us will still have most of the money and a good deal of the influence, but our days of throwing our weight around, getting everything we want, is over. Now, we’ll have to share, and, dare I say, share gratefully and humbly.

Just look at the current resident of the aptly-named White House — angry, bloated, blathering constantly about “the coloreds”. He’s a weirdly-walking, incoherently-talking, rage-tweeting monument to white privilege — born into so much wealth that he’s never had to be clever, smart, or charming. Like many of us, he took over the family business and hasn’t done much to improve on the workings of it. He can afford to take risks because he’s always had Daddy’s money to prop him up. He’s a raging ego on two feet with no sense of humor or concept of irony, who just loves to hear people say his name.

But beneath it all, there’s always the doubt, the uncertainty, the feeling that maybe he’s not good enough. Maybe it’s just the money people love and not the man behind it. We all understand that, don’t we? We’ve all had those moments where we didn’t know if we could handle the job, the wife, the kids, the expectations of our society that we be the best and the brightest.

Doesn’t matter.

We don’t have to be the best qualified or most knowledgeable because we write the rules to favor us. We get the lesser among us riled up about the folks coming to take their jobs, marry their daughters, impose strange beliefs, and take advantage of all the opportunities. We’ve always let our less well-off brethren fight our battles for us, once in a while doling out a few rewards, so they believe we’re on their side when all along, we’re just playing them for suckers.

It’s all about to end, my friends. The genie is out of the bottle, and the best we can do is grin and bear it. Those folks we’ve marginalized and refused to acknowledge are at the gates, tired of getting by on the scraps we occasionally toss them and fed up with the brutal retaliation we insist on when one offends our sensibilities. We’ve stepped on them one time too many and now they’re saying “Enough is enough.” They’re demanding their seats at the table.

Oh, sure, we could continue to fight, to let our proxies handle the situation, to dazzle everyone with doublespeak and empty promises, but take a look around. There’s a lot more of them than there are of us. We have the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, but they have everywhere else, and they’re rising here.

Everything that rises must converge, said Flannery O’Connor. We must evolve or perish. To quote that great philosopher of the late-20th Century, Chuck D: “What’s wrong with some color in your family tree?”

That’s what it’s all about, friends. We’re one big family and as the leading individuals who’ve always been most unwilling to acknowledge this, it’s time for some reevaluation on our part. It’s always been about survival of the fittest, but maybe that doesn’t mean the strongest, or most aggressive, or least willing to compromise. Maybe it’s not about the one who has all the toys, but the one most willing to share. Whenever we’ve needed a hand, we knew we could depend on the system. Now the system’s starting to crumble and things can transition smoothly or we can be left out in the cold.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m here to tell you it ain’t so. Life is a process of learning, and figuring out where we’ve always gone wrong is the first step in changing our ways. Oh, I know it’s scary, the thought of letting go and letting someone else run things, but maybe, they know a few things we don’t. Are we really so enamored with the way our parents and grandparents did things that we must cling to them like a tattered security blanket? If you stop to think about it, there was a lot they did we didn’t like. We only grinned and bore it because we were afraid of losing their approval.

Listen up, old white guys, from one who’s only a few steps behind you, history is being written as we speak, and future generations will judge us. How they do depends on how we handle the challenges we now face. We can continue to fight and look like the whiny losers we’ll be viewed as, or we can admit our failures and welcome the next generation in all its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-gendered glory. Let’s leave a legacy for which our children and grandchildren won’t have to offer excuses or apologize.

2 thoughts on “Old White Guys

  1. I really like this post. I live in South Africa and the legacy of apartheid is still with us. Funny enough, most people of my age are integrating pretty well into the new multi-cultural South Africa, but the older white generation is struggling. Some people are very reluctant to change.

    All the best all the way from South Africa. Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

    1. I’m from the Southern US and old enough to remember the early aftermath of the Civil Rights era and I’m really only now coming to terms with how much that has affected my attitudes and actions. There’s a lot I find uncomfortable, but I’ve learned that a lot of negative attitudes can be overcome by accepting that just because I may not understand something, that doesn’t make it wrong or invalid. It’s interesting to see the next generation dealing with problems that have festered in our society for too long.

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