Thursday, November 10, 2016

I'm not worried about ME.

I am incredibly lucky.

I am white. I have never had to live with what Professor Gerald Early describes in the Ken Burns' documentary "Jazz" -- that black Americans are "a people who have a historical consciousness of being unfree in a free country." I have never, nor could I ever, truly feel what it is like to be black in America. For Donald Trump to assert that he's the "least racist person," sounds like some macho dude bragging about his totally straight escapades in a blatant effort to compensate for his fear of exposing his latent homosexual feelings. It means the opposite, or at least at a minimum the lack of serious consideration about our racial divide in America.

I am male. I don't have to live with the threat of sexual harassment every day, at work, or just walking down the street. Maybe people have legitimate concerns about Hillary Clinton, but a good portion of what's been said and written about her over the past 30 years is straight-up misogyny. The fact that a majority of women voted for Trump doesn't change that. Perhaps this fact just means women have grown so accustomed to our "boys will be boys" mentality that they've learned to ignore it to survive. 

I am straightI don't have to live my life under threat that the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage could be overturned at any time, legally invalidating my family. The court has only recently ruled that any two people have a right to marry and receive all the rights and benefits that go along with being married. President Trump will surely nominate one Supreme Court justice in his first 100 days, and could easily get to nominate a 2nd one. The Republican congress will surely rubber stamp any/all his nominees in short order. Still think this ruling is safe?

I was born in America. I didn't have to come to this amazing country to find a better life; I already have one here. I don't have to wake up every day worried about whether my immigration status might change, separating me from my family, or sending me back to a country that might torture me. I don't have to fear other kids at school harassing and threatening my children. I don't have to live with the knowledge that our next president has used and encouraged inflammatory words against my people.

I am not religious. I don't have to look over my shoulder while I walk to my place of worship, wondering if the stares I'm getting are a just a preface to some hostile action about to be taken against me or my family. I don't have to dread being lumped into the same group as terrorists who claim to worship the same god I do.

I know my fantastic village police officers, and they know me. I don't have to worry about whether they're working to protect me or not; I know that they are. I call them when I need them. When I get pulled over, we're all safe -- my family and the officers -- and I think we all know it. I believe most reasonable people are aware that some folks in other places do not reap this level of reward in their relationship with the police.

I have tenure at a wonderful comprehensive liberal arts college. I will never again have to worry about losing my job, or about being left behind in a changing economic world. I never have to worry about whether my children will have enough to eat, be clothed, or if they'll have the ability to pursue their passions in this life.

My life pretty much exemplifies the textbook definition of privilege.

By acknowledging my privileged status I am not saying that all my successes are based on luck. I have taken risks and have worked my ass off to achieve what I have. But the truth is that I started out with a multiple-stroke handicap (hmmm, I wonder if the fact that I just used a golf analogy to describe my upbringing says something significant).

I was lucky to be born into a family that cared about intellectual pursuits. Even though we didn't have money to spare growing up, my mom was always willing to spend a little extra on a book if I really needed it. I was encouraged to pursue my musical passion and permitted to spend thousands of hours working diligently so that I could ultimately achieve so much and have a satisfying and comfortable life.

For all this I am profoundly grateful.

So yeah, I'm not worried about me.


  1. Well articulated, Mike. Thank you.
    Below I will share a statement by UConn's Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which was endorsed by our AAUP chapter. We ALL need to continue speaking out.
    ~ Earl MacDonald

    Dear Colleagues,
    In a variety of public venues I had made my deep concerns about a Trump presidency public, and this is a surprising and frightening morning for me.
    I am also very conscious of the fact that whatever fear I may be dealing with, there are members of our community who are much more vulnerable than me.
    For their sake, I ask all of us to reiterate that, regardless of the election outcome, as a university we will not compromise on our commitment to a community founded on diversity and on respect for individuals regardless of their politics, race, gender, sexual orientation and mode of expression, national origin, or religious beliefs. We must remain dedicated to the value of rational discourse, to the value of evidence based in reality, and to the pursuit of truth.
    There are members of our community who are members of religions and ethnic groups that have been specifically targeted in this campaign; there are members of our community who are undocumented or who have close family members who are undocumented, and who now see a future even scarier than before; there are members of our community who may fear the loss of rights that have brought them great joy and that were only recently gained.
    I hope that we can all take some time today to express solidarity and support with our students, friends, and colleagues and to say to them that, while as a community we are far from perfect, nevertheless nothing that has happened in the past twenty-four hours will cause us to retreat from the principles of academic freedom and social justice that we strive to live by.
    Jeremy Teitelbaum, Ph.D.
    Professor of Mathematics and Dean
    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    University of Connecticut

    1. Thanks for the info, Earl. And it's great that his name is Titlebaum, too, even if he spells it wrong. :)