I can’t deny that I’ve lived a privileged life. I grew up in a nice neighborhood, have a loving and supportive family, went to good schools, and I’ve never had to pawn anything to make rent. And I do stand up comedy. I voice my opinions and observations every day in a fashion less censored than most people because that’s part of being on stage.
I’m not the only straight, white, privileged male doing stand up, either. Regularly, at shows and at open mics, I’ll see one of them go up and make a comment along the lines of, “No one cares about my feelings on what’s happening with Ferguson. My opinion doesn’t matter, nobody wants to hear it.”
Here’s the thing…YES THEY DO! The mindset of the straight white male is exactly the one that needs to be molded and adjusted. Do you think this news is being blasted through social media to remind minorities, women, and the LGBT community that they’re facing adversity? No young black man is scrolling through his twitter feed thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I had no idea we were so oppressed! Why didn’t my parents bring this up every day of my life?”
White dudes, your opinion is very important, and it’s important that you voice it. As a young comedian, there’s a fantasy about getting an “in” with a national headliner. That headliner will take you around the country with them, performing on shows all over, put in a good word for your name, and help you spread your act to a larger group than just your social circle. Guess what? Straight white men like me are that “in” for literally everyone else. Bigoted straight white men are more likely to listen to other straight white men. It’s a lot harder to ignore the music when you’re already a fan of the band playing it. “Yeah, I love Kid Rock! Baw wit da baw da bang da bang diggy diggy da cops are abusing their power on minorities…whaaaat? No way…What other wisdom is hidden under that mullet?”
Maybe you don’t know for sure what went down in Ferguson, you don’t know if Mike Brown did provoke Darren Wilson, you don’t know if it should have gone to trial. But from what I’ve heard in your material, you do for sure know that your grandpa drops the n-word at Thanksgiving dinner as casually as “Pass the gravy,” so it’s not like the issue is entirely foreign to you.
Your opinion matters. Just because you have it better than most people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be understanding or show sympathy. White privilege gives you a lot, but it does not give you a pass on caring about the well-being of your fellow man/woman.