The Ignorant White Man.

Man with his head in the sand.
The Ignorant White Man

The definition according to the Cambridge Dictionary of Ignorant; not having enough knowledge, understanding, or information about something.

With that in mind, let’s move on. I was an ignorant white man for most of my life. Studying history at university and then teaching to the young minds of America, I thought I had a grasp on what reality was. I wasn’t prejudiced against anyone. I didn’t consider myself racist either, nor sexist. Not a bigot, or homophobic.

Thus, I was ignorant. I was all of them.

No, I was not them intentionally, nor are the vast majority of the white men of the world, and America specifically as a subject here. We were born into it. We were born into ignorance, racism, sexism, and so forth. Why? How? Because most of our parents were. Our country has been born into it for decades if not centuries.

In the coming weeks I plan to share some specifics about certain topics I’ve been exploring as I examine who I am, but for today I want to share this; white man America either doesn’t realize or chooses not to recognize, that things have been built in this nation from day one with White Man Privilege in mind, which in just a few generations became White Man Ignorance. Our nation has oppressed first the woman, then the Native American, and then the African. This is why people say racism is Institutionalized in America, it’s part of the framework.

As generations come and go they fall further down the hole of ignorance until we reach today. Today we Ignorant White Americans say let things be equal, but we, the majority, do not actively do anything to make a change, or we say things are already equally available to all and thus we show our ignorance by thinking equality is a reality.

Many years ago, Atlanta was home to something called Freaknik. It was like the Spring Break for young Blacks. Man did they go wild, just like the young people did at the beaches around the country, but were less reported on. There were news reports of cars being stolen, other thefts, attacks, and even defecating in people’s yards. I, however, did not let this deter me from attending the Atlanta Braves baseball game that I had tickets for. This was during their dominating years. (Sigh, those were the days.)

There I was, on the bus that was returning fans from Fulton County Stadium to the MARTA train station. All of us blissfully Ignorant White Americans, and one young black man. The bus was surrounded by Freaknik partiers. But you know what? I didn’t feel afraid. Not one ounce of fear came over me, even with some of the threatening gestures made toward us and the words shouted about us. I looked at the young man and he looked afraid but at the same time he was shaking his head at what was going on outside the bus.

Thinking back on that moment now, I reversed it all. What if that was an all-white crowd going crazy and that bus was full of Black Americans? Do you think they would not have had an ounce of fear? I can’t bring myself to think that. For one thing, we’re in Atlanta and the South in America still has that reputation from all those years of slavery and then the KKK during the Civil Rights Movement. So, I get it. (More on the truth of racism in the South and the US another time.)

The first step to shaking off your ignorance, and I am looking at you White Man, and yes, you too White Woman, is to realize equality does not exist outside of being a white man. And don’t begin to talk about affirmative action. What some companies consider a token position here and there just to avoid a law suit or to look good to others does not make a change, nor does a half white/half black President without the support of his Congress.

It’s time for each person to examine their own lives as well as the society they live in, wherever they live, and come to the truth. The Ignorant White Man might then be able to understand why Black Lives Matter is such a powerful and needed movement and why the #MeToo one is as well. But there is also an opportunity for the other side to realize the Ignorant White Man does need to learn, needs to realize the truth, but has a lifetime of ignorance to overcome. It all takes time, but as long as we move forward, always, then we are moving in the right direction.

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3 thoughts on “The Ignorant White Man.

  1. I totally agree Ron it is the same the world over. I am a while woman and I have always thought I am no of the isums you mentioned then some years ago I attended a racial and sexist awarisum work shop at work …it really opened my eyes. As you rightly say we have learned bad habits from our parents and grandparents ..
    We all need to open our eyes and ears more and keep a reign on our mouths!
    Excellent post Ron I look forward to more. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, and said with some needed compassion for those born into a toxic form of privilege of which it is perilously easy to be unaware. I’m sure everyone everywhere over the age of four has some implicit biases, but white privilege in America is a particularly pernicious variety — for the precisely the reasons you state. It’s very hard for us white Americans to see the pedestals we stand upon, the cushions between us and the harshness faced by minorities in our culture. I’m a white woman of a certain age who has had time to discard some unconscious attitudes of which I am rightfully ashamed — but the biggest wake-up for me was when my oldest son, now in his mid-thirties, was in high school. He and some of his friends were caught by the police in a well-to-do suburb where they had been driving around shooting at stop signs with a paint ball gun. The cops let the boys go with a stern warning, and that was all. All I could think of was what would have happened if my son were black or Latino — and the injustice of that really shook me up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an excellent article! I’m looking forward to other articles you will be writing about who you are, for who you are is a little of who we all are. Self examination is so important and as I have reviewed my own life and those of my ancestors leading up to present day, I have thought a lot about the interactions among those of different races.

    I remember the terror I felt as a young child upon seeing images in a newspaper of KKK dressed in their robes standing by a burning cross, and how I learned about the crimes they were committing all because someone’s skin was a different color. I feared for those of different skin colors than my own because of the injustices being done to them, but I also feared because of the hatred being espoused by those who felt they were better because they were white.

    Liked by 1 person

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