“An American Boy.” Esquire set the world aflame with this on the cover alongside a picture of a white, male teen from Wisconsin, but this article isn’t quite what it appears to be. Though I disagree with the hate the cover is getting, I also understand the rage. It’s a story about white Americans in the midst of Black History Month, so the timing is questionable. The problem is judging the story and Esquire’s intentions by this cover alone.
I’m a straight, white American male, and you may certainly believe that I have a certain level of bias; this article is not what it may seem. Esquire’s intention is to do a series on personal accounts from all sorts of people in the United States – white, black, Latino, male, female, etc. While it makes sense to start with the white guy, who has eternally stood atop the social hierarchy, the timing was really, really poor, but since it was ran, what of the white American male?
While sure, it’s harder than it’s ever been to be a straight white man, that’s not saying much. It’s like a multi-billionaire getting his favorite Ferrari towed, but that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t deserve to be heard. I personally have felt somewhat alienated by modern society.
While I try to be supportive of the LGBTQ community, the MeToo era and all of these movements around me, sometimes it’s hard to not feel targeted. My situation may be better than most, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have problems of my own.
How can I talk about these issues without undermining these movements? Will anyone listen if I do? Or is it in my best interest to combat these objectively good movements? I’m not going to, but that certainly feels like the case at times.
As seen, many other straight, white American men (and sometimes women) will attack these movements as a means of defense. One of the biggest problems in our society today is our inability to listen, understand and empathize with other people, especially those who are different from us. How best can we open up these conversations to ensure everyone has a voice?
My hope is that we can get past this controversy and actually read these articles, because to disagree with someone’s viewpoint, we’ve got to understand exactly what that is first.