Sam Smith – I belong to the ethnic group “me.” While I have white skin and male body works, these are trivial characteristics compared to the idiosyncrasies of my daily nature and behavior. One of the jobs of a writer, after all, is not to repeat the words and habits of others. When I’m feeling grumpy I resent being lumped in with other “white males” – especially the millions whose views and words are quite at odds with mine. If it is considered racist or sexist to wrongly characterize a black or a woman, why doesn’t the same rule apply to white males?
It is an inherent part of my mind not to judge people by gender or ethnicity but rather by their highly varied individual nature. This is not a moral choice; it is just good journalism. In writing, you can’t define someone simply by characteristics they share with millions but rather by what makes them a bit different.
Strangely, for all the moral emphasis placed on ethnic and gender equality, this issue is largely ignored. Yet you can’t predict what will bring you close to someone who looks different from you. It could be politics, religion, music, things you love or hate together or the way you deal with other humans.
Recently there has been increasing emphasis placed on ethnic and gender identity. Although seemingly providing honor to the longtime disrespected, it also badly underestimates the complexity of who we really are.
How can we change this? One approach would be to define people by their strongest characteristics. Are these folks who live only in their own ethnic or gender cage or who deal with others based on far more complex individual habits? I know scores of folks who share the latter approach and they are among the ones I value most as friends and guides.