As a child, I was horrifyingly oblivious to what it meant to be a white male. I ignorantly assumed that skin color should never be an issue. I went around treating everyone the same regardless of gender or race. I look back on those days now and cringe. Thank goodness I ‘woke up’ so to speak!
I was lucky to grow up on a moderately large 20,000-acre estate in a 23-bedroom Georgian house which had been in my family for at least six hundred years. For the first few years of my life, I was blissfully unaware of my standing within society. This glorious childhood utopia did not last long.
At the tender age of 12, I watched a film which put it all into perspective: Ratatouille. I remember the impact this movie had on me as if it were yesterday. My mind was awash with confusion. How could a rat control a cook?! Even if it were possible, how is it doing it? It’s simply holding his hair! What method of ungodly witchcraft is being employed here?! Then it hit me. This film was an allegory of slavery. There was no actual rat, it was brilliantly symbolizing white man’s need to dominate. The fact that the ‘rat’ is hidden underneath the chef’s hat cleverly illustrates how white society in America turned a blind eye to the way black people were being exploited. The ‘rat’ is a metaphor for the detached way in which white power was used to oppress African slaves, the ‘food’ it cooks represents the benefits white Americans have enjoyed as a result of this inhumane hierarchical structure. I was gobsmacked that a children’s movie could encapsulate a complex multi-layered issue in such a devastatingly simplistic way.
I needed to know more. I sought out other movies that would open my eyes further to societal injustice and the evils of whiteness (Shrek the Third, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Schindler’s List, and of course, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps). I gorged myself on anything that could stimulate my dormant inner wokeness into being. It wasn’t until I watched Harry Potter 1 through 5 that I finally learned to despise myself.
I remember that first wave of White Guilt washing over me. It was like an epiphany. I bathed in it, swam in it. Immersed my disgustingly pallid complexion in it until I was spent. Looking back, I’m not ashamed to admit it was an almost erotic experience. From then on, I was transformed. I found myself telling people to ‘educate themselves’, and would begin conversations with ‘FYI’, or ‘Dear fellow white people…’. I was using the word ‘problematic’ at least three hundred times a day, and it was wonderfully cathartic. The first time I called Father a ‘bitch-ass white cracker skank’ was an incredibly liberating experience.
I demanded to be sent to a university for the lower-orders so that I could experience poverty first-hand. After a few heated arguments, Father acquiesced, so long as he could purchase a townhouse nearby for me to live in and set up regular allowance payments to my bank account via direct debit. I reluctantly agreed to all of this on the condition that my allowance would not exceed 5k per month.
I’ve taken surprisingly well to my self-inflicted destitution and university life has proven to be ideal for my new found woke lifestyle. Many of my student chums are also aware of their White Guilt, and we regularly meet up to admonish those who do not acknowledge theirs. Only last weekend we berated a white homeless man sitting outside Taco Bell for his appalling lack of self-awareness regarding not only his own privilege, but his flagrant disrespect towards cultural appropriation. Eventually he became so violently agitated the police came along and forcibly removed him and his filthy blanket from the pavement. Of course, if he were black the police would have shot him dead, so I hope he realized just how privileged he is.
Despite my early awokening, the opulence of my youth is something which still plagues me to this day. I see racial bias all around me. The amount of opportunities I have as a white male are staggering compared to those of a BAME. We need to do more, and I am determined that when I inherit my family’s estate, I will make damn sure I only employ people of color to maintain it.