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Coping with the 'white man's burden'

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

I'm the son of a gambler whose luck never came. I'm a white man singin' the blues.

-- Merle Haggard

I heard from an old acquaintance the other day, a guy who likes to call me up every now and then to give me grief about something I've written or to complain about some bee that's flying around in his not-insignificant bonnet.

I usually have a pretty good idea what the topic's going to be when I hear this dude's unmistakable voice on the other end of the phone line -- it's usually in response to "that (stuff) you keep spreading in your column" -- but I must say his most recent musing caught me off-guard.

"You want to know what the most disadvantaged group in this country is today?" he asked and waited for me to answer. When I didn't take the bait, he continued. "It's the white male," he said.

When I laughed in reply, he cut me off.

"I know, I know, you're going to use some bleeding-heart, liberal bull to try and prove me wrong, but listen up," he said. "It's white males who are hated by everyone these days: minorities, women's groups, young people, poor people ... It doesn't matter what we do that's good, we're going to get blamed for everything bad that happens.

"And you might as well not even apply for any kind of job opening or government benefit -- at least in places like Albany -- if you're a white man."

No matter how much he goaded me -- no matter what amount of pretzel logic he employed to try and prove his point -- this was one debate I wasn't going to get into. I essentially let him talk himself out, told him how much I admired his chutzpah and got off the phone.

Since our conversation, though, I've thought about what this dude said. It's not like I haven't heard the argument before, and -- being from the deep South -- I'm sure I'll hear it again. And, since I am a member of the tribe for which he so strongly advocates, I decided to help him out by coming up with a few arguments to help him the next time he has a hankering to plead his case.

I'm calling it "Coping With the White Man's Burden":

-- There are ugly rumors that we can neither dance nor jump.

-- The only ones of us who are capable of playing in the NBA are from foreign countries. The NFL isn't far behind, unless our last name happens to be Manning.

-- When it comes to repeating a lot of the good jokes we hear, we pretty much just have to keep our mouths shut.

-- We can't even maintain our dominance of positions that we were once guaranteed by law. Persons of color -- and females, for that matter -- weren't even allowed to vote for decades, and now we have a black president and women are strong contenders to be next in line for the Oval Office.

-- George Bush and Donald Trump are white men.

-- No one but us still believes that rock and roll will one day save the world, that sitting around listening to a Foghat or CCR or Blue Oyster Cult album is about as good as it gets. And only a handful of us can even understand rap.

-- More of us are having health issues, apparently due to the extra stress of always having to be right about everything.

-- In a decade or so, there will be fewer of us than there are members of other races and nationalities, so who's going to take care of everyone?

-- That thing about "unfortunately, women have to work twice as hard to be as successful as a man ... fortunately, it's easy" has turned out to be pretty much true during our watch.

-- We have to eat white bread, crackers -- especialy crackers -- and mayonnaise in secret lest we become the butt of a bunch of cruel jokes by some of the less sensitive.

-- And, according to some well-known political types, we've devolved to the point that we all look alike.

Yep, it's hard out there for the male and pale.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.