I felt compelled this morning to write a brief, but hopefully thoughtful note to my white male colleagues, friends and family members (yes we have some in the Nelson family tree) in response to the rather "weird & defensive" way they acted yesterday upon hearing that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was going to be nominated to SCOTUS by POTUS.
First, this disclaimer: I like white males. Both of my great grandfathers (Henry & Joseph) were full-blooded white Irish men. My great great maternal grandmother was a slave who ran off and married her slave master's son. They settled in Oklahoma which was a border state.
I am old enough to remember "Pop pop" as we fondly called him. He was my paternal great grandfather. He was tall, very white, with a full head of white hair at 80+ years old. I was 7 when he died. And for the record, on a very personal note I have loved at least one white man in my lifetime deeply and would have married him had he but asked. Some of my best mentors (Jack Kemp, Ed Meese, Chris Cox, Ray Cotton, and others) have been white conservative males. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
However, I am a bit weary of the "white males are victims" thing. It is simply not true. Judge Sotomayor is not trying to play race politics, or be a "reverse racist" as she was unfairly called by many yesterday (i.e. Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and others). She was simply speaking truth to power. It is so not racist to say that your unique set of life experiences as a woman, person of color, gay person or otherwise has an impact on how you see life, make decisions, and interact with people. It is called "diversity" fellas. It is not a bad thing. It is a good thing.
More importantly, white males need to grasp that they have enjoyed the most insidious form of "legalized preferences" for over 350 years in America, unchallenged I might add truly until the late 20th century. I think that this is really the crux of what ails these good gentlemen. They are afraid of change, of not being in control anymore, perhaps. I think that is unfortunate.
Change is hard. But change has come to America. We have a black Commander-in-Chief. We have a black Attorney General. We have black corporate CEOs, Hispanic Judges, women astronauts, engineers, lawyers, and doctors. We have Asian Military generals, and Native American Physicists. The color barrier has been slowly chipped away at over the past 50 years and yet, we still have more work to do. Much more than you think when you look at the economic disparity and education gap in this nation.
It is my hope that white men, particularly those who are 40 and over will start listening, start sharing, start mentoring, and start understanding that America is a browning nation. Period. And black and white people to be frank are not reproducing at rates that will be able to keep pace with Hispanics for example. Thus, it is not only just but prudent for America to have a diverse Congress, and Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor will be a much needed voice on the Supreme Court.
Who among us is silly enough to believe that justices do not legislate from the Bench -- Judge Sotomayor is being castigated for being "candid". No, that is not what judges should do, but be clear it is what they have always done since the days of Justice John Marshall and Justice Roger B. Taney.
So, I want to end by saying this to my fellow white American males: Your contributions to this country matter. Your voice matters. Your perspective and insights matter. So engage. Do not be defensive or threatened. We need you as you need us. Stop name-calling, and shouting "reverse racism" when the truth is that history is simply righting itself as it always does. The law allows for us to "remedy" past historical discrimination. Why is that so unfair when you and your ancestors have been advantaged by having white skin and being male. To deny this is not only dishonest, but historically inaccurate.
Now I know there will be those who will say: "My family did not own slaves" or "my dad was a poor working white man" so how did I get advantages. Are you serious? The lowest and poorest white man in America at one time in this nation's history was treated better than the most educated black man. That is our nation's ugly history folks. Like it or not it is real. So why dwell there -- let's move forward and allow each man or woman to achieve as God has given them gifts to do so. Sky is the limit.
America is a great land. It was made great by the shed blood of white men, black men, native American men, and men of every color and creed. Let us honor one another, and explore our diversity of thought and opinion. Let's stop being victims of racism, sexism, bias, etc. -- and start being Americans all. The name calling is beneath a true American gentleman. Let's appeal to people's better angels not their worst fears fella. We will all be better for doing so.
Lots of love, Your sister Sophia.
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