Dear Ken, time and again, I find myself very grateful to you, for expressing (very well) the thoughts that I am thinking. And, of course, I am grateful that you share your voice through the Wednesday Journal.

I am also, as a white male, grateful to you for writing that “males — white males in particular — would benefit from talking less and listening a whole lot more.” To which I (a white male) say: Amen! [Safe space vs. brave space, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, Oct. 30]

I recently caught part of a piece on WBEZ, in which the speaker explained his belief that the opposite of racist is not “not a racist,” but “anti-racist.” Similarly, I would say that the opposite of sexist is not “not a sexist” (and, particularly, not a defensive “I’m not a sexist!”), but “anti-sexist.” 

I’m reading a book right now, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo, which explains that this defensive reaction (“I’m not a racist!”), which depends on a very narrow definition of racism (essentially limiting it to overt hateful acts typified by the pre-Civil Rights-era KKK), is a (maybe the) major obstacle to making further progress in the ongoing fight against racism in our society.

I was reminded of this when I read some of the reactions (by white males) to Trustee Buchanan’s angry rebuke of Trustee Moroney (e.g., %u200Ba letter writer asserting that “Shut up” is a system of oppression and a columnist defensively explaining why he didn’t feel guilty for “being a white male,” and characterizing Trustee Buchanan’s “outburst” as “crazy”). These reactions display a supreme lack of awareness of the history of gender (and race) relations in this country, and make me wish that the men who wrote them (and the other white males who angrily attacked Trustee Buchanan) would follow your advice.

Jack Bizot

Oak Park

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