On Sunday night during the Oscars, a little insert video played, starring women and people of color in Hollywood who spoke about how they had, for so long, seen movies about straight white men and had to find ways to connect to them. They expressed how, now, they were able to make movies about people like them and see people who weren’t like them find some sort of connection despite those differences.
That got me thinking about my own life, and how living some of it over the past 4 years as a minority has changed who I am and how I see the world.
I’m not a true minority in any sense. I’m a straight, white male from an upper-middle class family who went to private school for kindergarten through 8th grade. That’s not what anyone, especially myself, would call a minority.
Looking at white men, we aren’t exactly a majority of the population. We aren’t even the largest group by race and gender; that belongs to white women (by a slight margin). White people are, however, a majority of the population in the U.S. Nonetheless, everywhere I go, I belong to the group that more or less holds the power in this country.
Regardless as to whether or not you think it’s bad that white men hold the vast majority of high-ranking positions across all industries in this country (I think it’s bad), it’s important to note that none of these men have ever lived as a minority in any capacity. Their time trying to be white saviors in Uganda doesn’t count. So these guys are viewing the world through a specific lense, one that a majority of America doesn’t see the world through.
Which brings me to my point: I believe it is critical that everyone experience living as a minority. Over the past 4 years, I walk into a school where I am a minority. White people make up only 12% of the student body at my high school. I sit in classrooms where I am the only white male. And it’s amazing.
I’ve discussed previously how my experience in my high school has created a desire within me to make change and enter politics. But it’s also taught me so much about how to acknowledge every view and position and experience as important and worth a listen. It’s hard to put into words exactly what this experience has done to help shape me, but I can guarantee you it has (and I think most of my peers would share that opinion).
We’re looking at a future where white males will soon be a very small portion of the country. Soon, the U.S. will be a majority-minority country (meaning the majority of the country will be people of color). White people will soon have two options: become white supremacists, or understand how to live as a minority. I hope they choose option 2. I have.