My post today is about a behavior most everyone is aware of but may not realize they are actively participating in. Many may even argue there’s no way they would ever consider acting that way. This topic concerns the company we keep, the stories we tell, and the circle of privilege, which some may know as white male privilege.
Think about it. We all know friends or family or even other people in our lives, whether we are part of a team or otherwise working together, who see themselves as better than others—not everyone, but perhaps certain people. Remember, you create the world you live in with the stories you tell yourself, so even without realizing it, by keeping their company and listening to their stories, you’re participating in their behavior. At the same time, we’re all taught to be amiable and polite, to cooperate and fit in, so who would speak up when others experience social exclusion?
This past weekend, I was reminded of this type of behavior. It happens all around us every day, but many of us don’t even see it or recognize it’s happening when it’s not directed at us. We tend to ignore how people interact with the ones they’re putting down. Maybe we don’t want to make waves, or maybe we think it’s just a small slight and are told we shouldn’t let it get to us because it’s not socially acceptable to speak up.
This issue came up while I was away at a dragon boat racing event, one my local team had travelled to compete in. (By the way, we won gold in our division. Yay for us!) It was a happy event that we’re still patting ourselves on the back for, but at the same time, a few of us had an ah-ha moment when we experienced social profiling by a few other competitors. Were they strangers? No! In fact, they were people we knew, people who were liked by many.
What was illuminating was that the behavior of these individuals was ignored by the many while being directed at the few. This is nothing new. The same behavior has been ongoing for years, not in an overt and shocking way but rather subtly, which is likely why so few see it. It may be easier to speak up when someone openly degrades someone else, singling them out publicly and talking to them as if they’re a bug to be crushed underfoot, but how often does that happen?
It’s amazing what you notice when you socialize with a group of older well-liked white couples. These people are married and have professions that are deemed socially acceptable. They own property with a white picket fence and have 2.3 kids, a perfect car, and a summer cottage. They check all the boxes: They have the right skin color, ethnicity, and citizenship, are from the right area, and follow the rules embedded into them by their parents and grandparents regarding what makes people acceptable. But at the same time, even though each of these individuals will argue that they are good and decent and loving, they have no respect or kindness for people who don’t fit the mold.
What’s illuminating is to think about the generation this comes from. Many are repeating their parents’ words, their grandparents’ words, without even realizing it. They give respect to the elderly even when they openly degrade and slight others. What would you do if it was your mother, your father, who openly degraded, put down, slighted, or criticized those who were different? When such people are faced with someone who doesn’t fit their perfect mold, they think that person is unacceptable, which invites criticism and sarcastic rude comments. Even their tone often conveys that they feel the person they’re speaking to is beneath them—and that’s if they don’t completely overlook or ignore them.
What was troubling to me this past weekend was the sheer number of people who didn’t notice this behavior, because it was done so subtly and wasn’t directed at them, and it was done in polite conversation that was deemed socially acceptable. I am a single mother with three children—two teens and one autistic young man—and I definitely do not fit the mold of socially acceptable. As an author, I notice how people interact on a level many don’t recognize and don’t want to recognize. There is a difference, and I see it often. People see this behavior and think, Don’t rock the boat. Keep your nose down. Don’t cause trouble. Just ignore them or it’ll be you next. They don’t mean anything by it. Don’t let it bother you. Don’t speak up. You’ve thought it, and I’ve thought it. I’ve even been told it.
Last year, I was invited to an event where I met an older man through an acquaintance who had reached out, knowing what I had accomplished in my career, and asked if I could give him a hand because he was having trouble with online publishing. Of course, I said yes and took the time to meet with him, to help him get a handle on the business side of being an author. He was a very nice man, pleasant. Later at the event, I saw him at a table with three other men who were deep in conversation. I went over and said hi, and he stood up to have a few words with me, but never at any point was I introduced to the three others. Was I invited to sit? No. In fact, the other three completely ignored me. They had their male circle, and the slight was not lost on me.
They likely weren’t even aware of their exclusionary behavior, but that attitude seems to be embedded in many of the older generation and is ignored by many today. I find it troublesome that this kind of discord makes its way into our social circles just because of who these people are, because they’re the “right kind” of people.
Ask yourself this: Do you have people around you, friends, family members, or even your parents or grandparents, who openly criticize others and see themselves as better, more privileged? Perhaps you do this yourself, regardless of your skin color, race, or gender. When you see exclusionary behavior, do you ignore it or do you actually speak up? Take a second out of your day and look at your thoughts and words, and ask yourself where they came from, who taught them to you. Think about what the people around you say.
It really comes down to being a decent human being. Neither you nor I know anyone else’s story or why they act the way they do, but each of us has the ability to say something to someone we know when they do or say something that should bother each and every one of us. More than that, each of us has the ability to recognize the words that come out of our own mouths, our own actions, and fix ourselves.
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The adventure continues as Walker proposes marriage to Kate, realizing he can’t live without her. Only an intruder from Walker’s past puts their relationship in jeopardy.
"Romantic suspense at its best...This book was a quick read but was not short on the emotional suspense and family drama for which Eckhart is known. Her characters are always so real and raw. The plot is interesting and keeps the pages turning. The alpha hero keeps the pages steaming." ★★★★★ Aherman, Amazon Reviewer
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