Maleness, Whiteness, Respect, and Donald Trump

Culture is shifting under the feet of white males, and many of them aren’t reacting well to it.

Much of white male American has long felt it was owed respect because of its whiteness and maleness.

And for decades, they pretty much got it. Now that’s changed, with people recognizing that respect has nothing to do with race or gender.

For many of us white males, this hasn’t been a problem, because we draw our sense of self worth from other things and offer our fellow citizens reasons to respect us that aren’t our whiteness and our maleness.

But a segment of white males in fact do draw their sense of self worth from their race and gender, and so can’t cope with this change.

This is what drives them to the alt-right, to Trumpism, to feeling threatened by kneeling black athletes.

They fear — many of them rightly — that if whiteness and maleness don’t earn respect, they’ll have little else to earn it with.

That’s scary. For them, yes, but also for the rest of us affected by their raging against the loss of unearned respectability.

This is why it’s encouraging that, for instance, athletes aren’t cowed by Trump’s bullying. And why all of us should applaud them.

So #TakeAKnee. Not just to protest police violence, but also because not giving in is how we move society in a better direction.