As the American political spectacle unceasingly assaults our senses (hardly the best sales pitch for global proliferation of democracy) two suspected truths have been unquestionably confirmed. One, the United States of America is the only nation on this planet whose national elections are followed with such intensity and self-interest by the rest of the world. Two, white people are fucking embarrassing.
Granted, that last statement drips with irony stemming from the fact that I, myself, am White. Like, really White. I am a genuine Honky, a bonafide Cracker, an authentic Hoser. I’m an English-speaking Canadian of purely Germanic ancestry. I was raised on Lutheran doctrine and Country music. I grew up playing hockey, watching professional wrestling and I couldn’t dunk a basketball even if I had a trampoline at my disposal. I dreamed of being The Bandit or a Duke boy and quite honestly, I still kinda do. I own NASCAR attire, sport a proto beer gut, and listen to Classic Rock. There are parts of me on the threshold of translucence and I literally have a Black friend. So, yeah, I’m W-H-I-T-E, White.
I’m also a straight male. If it wasn’t for the rarity of my eight years as a stay-at-home dad, a homemaker if you will, I’d epitomize quite possibly the most unloved demographic group on the planet. I get that. We Whiteys haven’t exactly endeared ourselves to many. This is especially true of us Y-chromosomers. Even White women have issues with us.
It’s no secret that we’ve pretty much had free run of the planet these past few centuries and spent that time hording most of the wealth, fame and glory for ourselves, topped off with a self-congratulatory pat on our backs, not to mention regular cuffs upside the heads of anyone who displeased us. Sure, we’ve made countless, incredible discoveries during that time but they’re all too easily overshadowed by our penchants for perpetrating unimaginable horrors.
I’d like to believe we’ve improved over the centuries. Genocide, slavery, raping, and pillaging are (mostly) out, while suffrage, freedom, and equality are (mostly) in. Well, on paper they are at least. This progress may be understandably too stunted and sporadic for some, but it is happening. And trivial though it might be, we were trying to say all the right things. Or we were until the internet happened.
A miracle of modern technology, science fiction become reality, the internet has linked the entire world and given every single one of us a voice no matter how powerful or meek. Who knew so many of us would turn out to be assholes? From stupid to vile, vulgar to narcissistic, nationalistic to ideological, these lowest denominators of humanity are continually popping up from the cesspools of social and traditional media like a disturbed, demented whack-a-mole game. And all too many of them are White. And usually male.
It’s so frustrating and, yes, embarrassing, to continually see the rump of my race making an utter ass of itself. Everywhere I look these days some jackass White person is making me cringe. Who wears t-shirts with hate propaganda emblazoned across them? White people. Who wears gaudy ball caps with idiotic slogans printed on them? White people. Who holds signs with misspelled, racist epitaphs on them? White people. Who posts hateful, raging, anonymous comments on Social Media? White People. Who gets interviewed by news outlets spewing ridiculous conspiracy theories? White people. Who protests funerals spouting The Word of God? White people. Who denounces intellect, willfully rejects fact, and embraces hypocrisy like a child holding a puppy? White people, white people, and, yup, white people.
There are fascinating, dramatic, and some would say long overdue changes afoot in popular culture. Legendary characters are being reimagined as people of colour or female or transgendered. These previously under-represented, ignored, and even ostracized minorities are pushing to have their voices heard and their selves seen. I sympathize with their desire though it can be jarring to those of us who’ve enjoyed the comfort of majority all our lives. But be forewarned, my fellow citizens, it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. I see people like me everywhere; on TV, in books, in advertisements, and online. And as often as not, it’s absolutely mortifying. When everyone has a voice you have little control over which blowhard speaks loudest.
And no, it’s not all of us. It never is all of anyone. I’d like to think I’m a good person, past mistakes notwithstanding, but I too feel like I’m under attack some days. It seems like my very existence is a micro-aggression to some. But it’s damn sure enough of us to make me want to lock myself in a cryogenic freezer at the bottom of an abandoned mine on an isolated island in the middle of the Pacific and pray Gene Roddenberry is right about the future.
I thought we were better than this. We need to be better than this. Because this … this orange-hued hell … is fucking embarrassing.