THE BLOG
11/26/2014 05:45 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2015

Dear Straight, White, Male New Friend

Dear straight, white, male new friend,

When you tell me you have confidence in yourself because you are a straight, white male, I am not sure if you are being sarcastic or if this is something you actually believe.

I would caution you, though, to be careful where and how you use that term, for others might find it off-putting or be confused by it at best. I have never heard it from any other straight, white, male colleagues or friends, so this is new territory for me.

Many people associate straightness, whiteness, and maleness with the best of the world's historical progress: explorers, conquerors, inventors, builders, wealth creators. For others the use of these descriptors to define the essence of one's self-confidence represents the most serious of insecurities, insecurities that have bred some of the most egregious acts of human history that I won't rehearse here. Suffice it to say, it has not always been the case that straightness, whiteness, and maleness connotes confidence. My straight, white, male executive coach believes it is a heavy weight to bear because, he says, in the end, even straight, white men know they have to die. As a human being, I get it.

I have had many, many straight, white, male colleagues and have straight, white, male friends. Most have talked of their insecurities and their confidences -- insecurities and confidences born of how they were raised, their faith (or lack of it) in God, their natural disposition, a love (or not) of life -- the list goes on. I have heard the same from transgender youth of color -- confidence expressed and shown in spite of the fact they are not white or male, or even straight in some cases. And I have heard them talk of insecurities that don't always have to do with being transgender youth of color.

As we continue this journey together, and as you continue to grow, you may want to think about what it means for others to hear you say that you have no lack of confidence because you are a straight, white male. It could suggest just the opposite.

We are all children of the same creative source, fellow travelers on this journey, often feeling our way in the dark, who celebrate confidence when it is born of moments of clarity, of acts of charity, of genuine compassion for our creator, our neighbors, and ourselves.

You are a smart, caring, compassionate soul. That gives me confidence enough.

Fred