I always forget until I see these articles published that next to everything I write is the phrase “Another White Guy.” I am momentarily taken aback, and I question why I made the choice to preface myself with those words.

I’ve heard similar anecdotes from friends and acquaintances who always seem on the verge of telling me that the title is unpalatable. 

But why should it be? It’s true! I am just another white guy and we all know it. Why is it so unnerving for me to acknowledge it?

Part of the problem is that whiteness is usually invisible. Black actors play the black character, whereas white actors get to play characters defined by characteristics entirely separate from their race—the funny one or the villain. This means that identifying oneself by race is an active, unimposed choice. I think it makes people uncomfortable that I would choose to identify with a race that is usually associated with prejudice and oppression.

But as long as blackness is coded as something, I want to make whiteness coded as something too. I want to make it clear that I have not had average experiences, I have had white experiences.

In her article last week, Emily Simon ’17 asserted that by my column’s acknowledgment of my whiteness and guyness, I am “proudly [claiming] ownership of [my] status.”

For some reason, us white people seem to think that attempting to hide our whiteness will give us more credibility. This fundamentally misses the fact that choosing not to identify by our race is an exercise in privilege—in the power over our identity that our whiteness affords us. I want to disrupt that by making my whiteness unavoidable.

More importantly, though, hiding from our race means refusing to engage with the complexity of our identities. My ancestors’ success was founded on slavery and my parents’ on segregation. My existence is coded with histories of violence. I am among the millions of white male voices that have dominated American society and culture since the establishment of this country.

But treating class and privilege as dirty secrets does not make them go away; it only gives them more power and entrenches us further in our differences. Because our reaction to race and gender is this reverent uneasiness, I am incapable of acknowledging my being a white dude without reducing my identity to solely these traits.

I either don’t talk about my race or I’m on team racism. 

Neither of these are productive ways of moving forward. Further, for us to even pretend it is possible not to notice my whiteness is a farce.

I could have titled this column something other than “Another White Guy,” and it would have made it easier for you to not think about my race and gender. But you still would have thought about it. You just probably wouldn’t have said anything about it out loud.

I proclaim my status simply by existing. I get paid more, there are more places I can live, I am less likely to get arrested, and if I do, I spend less time in jail. I exude whiteness in everything I do—erasing it is impossible. 

We need to work towards neither hiding our race nor defining ourselves by it. 

With this title, I’m trying to confront the weirdness of being white and wanting to be a good person. I’m trying to be upfront about the humorous irony here, the egotism I must have to think my thoughts on social justice are so profound that it even makes sense for me to write a column whose goal is a world with fewer columns written by people like me. 

And yes, the name is tongue-in-cheek. Race is awkward and complicated and full of contradictions very few really understand, and the truth is that there are aspects of my relationship with race that are kind of funny.

So maybe I just shouldn’t talk about it, then. I think there are many among us who don’t think there is anything funny about race, so is it disrespectful for me to write about it in this way?
I see the legitimacy of this argument, but I also believe that confronting whiteness is a fundamental piece of confronting racism. Particularly in this community, where 66 percent of us are white, restricting conversations about injustice to solely identities of color would mean disengaging 2/3 of the school. This is not the path to racial understanding and community.

I gave my column this title to be upfront about who I represent: I represent somewhat self-aware white people who have messy, problematic relationships with race, and I honestly believe Bowdoin needs that.