Privileged White Men
Privilege – related to my own privilege – as a cis-upper-middle class white man is an issue of concern to me. I am trying to make some sense over why the publication of this book, and some promotion I have received related to it, bothers me – as much as it does.
It's creator believed that they were
obligated to represent and “lift up” less privileged African Americans through
moral rectitude and hard work. The issue
of birth control was part of the “uplift” agenda, due to the belief that a
woman could provide a better quality of life and education to her children if
she could determine how many children she wished to have and rear. (Undivided Rights:
Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice:, p.57-8)
Not having purchased, nor read, this book, my
perspective on it is somewhat limited and perhaps inaccurate. My initial reaction is that though
significant royalties from the sale of the book (hard cover or Kindle) will go
to help a worthy cause, it is presumptuous for a wealthy, privileged white man
to write a book, and expect that more than similarly privileged individuals to
I would prefer to hear messages, such as those of the
above quoted author, and spend my limited available money on supporting
“others” – who are less privileged than I am.
I have listened to part of the book launch video of
– and my feelings and thoughts are not as intense, but they remain.
I have a difficult time feeling empathy and compassion
for wealthy white men – in general. I
do feel that there are poor white men, as well as individual white men – who I
My almost best friend – a white male – recently lost
his (not young) father through a common medical condition. He has two very challenging to raise
children, works full-time in a meaningful occupation, and with all that still finds
the time to do serious political work with us.
It feels qualitatively different to get multiple
thanks from him related to me paying for several meals for his family, while
they faced the recent challenges.
One of Men 4 Choice (www.Men4Choice.org)
‘s co-founders and co-leaders has a very young child, works full-time as the
political advisor/director for a Congressperson, and still “does the work” he
I would prefer to hear messages from wealthy white men
that relate to how they are:
– the wealth and Deep Harm – of white men such as: Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk,
are building deep allyship and support of both monetarily, but also in “doing
the work” for:
Queer-Trans and similar – focused organizations,
people – including men (male appearing) – from unhoused, working class to
support-allyship with fellow wealthy white men as well as working to reach more
of them – and not asking for support/understanding of those of us – who lack
their privileged status, and/or
general – to clearly see how they are – visibly listening and sharing– such as
within YouTube videos and public forums – that do not cost others money –
rather than asking for all of us to financially give money to them (at all).
Wealthy white men should not be ashamed of
their status, except perhaps related to how – it may have come from the hard
work of many poorly paid employees (or slaves) or similar.
Wealthy white men should be aware of their privilege
and should recognize their responsibilities not to lead or teach others,
but rather to be allies – building “partnerships” to deal with the oppression
that wealthy people and others with disproportionate power have in our worlds
They should be aware of how “liberals” like Warren
Buffett will not confront “conservatives” like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg –
in anything related to their wealth – and how it should be confronted for the
benefit of society as a whole.
They should be aware of how defense contractors push
the “war industry” in Ukraine and elsewhere.
They should educate each other and themselves of how wealth is
To the degree that privileged people do not strongly
confront the systemic oppression of “the others” – who lack systemic
influence, they effectively add to the pressures of less advantaged
people such as upon Black, Queer Women – who for example significantly were the
difference in the election of Joe Biden in 2020.
Those facing oppression do not have the “luxury” to –
“take time off” – from their struggles to survive.
Wealthy white man can do a lot related to many issues
we face locally, nationally and internationally. Racism, reproductive justice, climate
change, homo/lesbian/trans phobias, the weaponizing of dominant religions,
education, housing, healthcare are obvious examples of areas of potential help.
How wealthy white men “do the work” is also
important! While donating money is
helpful, it isn’t “the way” to systemically help others.
The Gates Foundation, for example, often throws money
at a problem. The act as though they can
“cure” something like malaria, or even malnutrition/lack of food security in a
paternalistic, short-sighted way.
“Reparations” – are not a significant single financial
payment to “re-pay” “for the harm done in the past”. Our police/justice/carceral system continues
to add to the harm.
Wealthy white men – have lots of possibilities for
doing a lot of good! They need to work
with other wealthy and not so wealthy white men, not being “lone rangers” in
They need to work – and partner – with wealthy white
women. They need to partner and work
with – upper-middle class white men.
They need to join the existing work towards
systemic change – such as within The Black Lives Matter Movement and The
Reproductive Justice Movement.
How they support other movements is important! Wealthy white men need to learn from the
previous failures of others.
White – privileged people – have failed in many
ways. During the mid-1960’s – the Black
leadership of SNCC and the Black Panthers pushed white people to work in white
communities to help end racism.
Privileged white women – feminists – failed to ally
themselves with others as feminism’s influence grew. Heterosexual women – resisted the leadership
of lesbians. White women resisted the
efforts of Black and Brown and other BIPOC in their work.
When we do our work from positions of privilege, we
need to respect, confront, and even honor – the discomfort(s) that we face in
really doing our work! It is realistic
and normal to recognize that we will face the anger of others. They are hurt by and are reacting in opposition
to the privilege that we often take for granted.
We are used to being praised and supported for doing
the work that we do! We may face
criticism and even protests while doing our work.
We must lean into the work. Our support must come from others with our
privilege. We must not dump
responsibilities upon those we have hurt over the centuries.
Doing things such as I am suggesting (and more) isn’t
easy, but it also isn’t “difficult”.
It can and will be challenging!
I hope that privileged white men such as Garrett
Neiman will engage and reach out to men like me, as well as many others – in caring,
They shouldn’t conclude that we all need money and
publicity from them. Rather, they should
have curiosity, asking deep questions. I
can help them see others like Lynn Burnett – see: https://crossculturalsolidarity.com/bio/
who are trying to carry on the work of white “ancestors” such as Anne Braden and
George Hrbek – see:
We don’t give up our
privilege – by doing the right things.
We help bring about change, that eventually may result both in lessoning
our privilege, and in building a safer, more satisfying society, including for
wealthy white men. As Garrett Neiman
speaks of, those of us who are wealthy white men – will gain – from positive
systemic change. It is Not a zero sum
I do not see any
groundswell of efforts coming from those of us who have privilege! It appears, frequently, that there is an
inverse proportion of “doing the work” – by what privilege we have. Less privileged people do the work – out of
necessity. Those of us with privilege do
proportionately less work, the more privilege that we have.
We can and must change
this! Climate change, threats of a fascist
takeover, and other results of a climate of fear and manipulation by some of
the super-wealthy, and their supporters increasingly threaten us all.