In a provocative conversation with a friend this weekend, I was encouraged to give up my white man's guilt. "Black, Hispanics, women, gays? They don't need your help," my friend said. "Just pay your taxes and get out of the way." Her comment came in response to my upset over the re-segregation movement in Wake County these days, but her admonition went far beyond that. "Integration, feminism, immigration ... these aren't your causes," she said. "Your activism smacks of paternalism. You're part of the problem."
Maybe she's right. Maybe middle-aged white guys like me should just stand on the sidelines and let others fend for themselves. I have all the blessings I'll ever need, why not let those getting the short end of the stick work it out for themselves?
Take women, for example. As today's N&O reports, they're getting the short end of the stick in more ways than you can count.
A Blue Cross and Blue Shield comprehensive policy with a $2,500 deductible would cost a 38-year-old Durham man $182 a month. For a woman of the same age and hometown, the cost jumps to $269 -- a difference that amounts to an extra thousand dollars a year. Add optional maternity coverage, and the monthly premium would leap to $490 a month.
Maybe women just don't care? Maybe they're so used to being screwed over that they won't take to the streets to raise holy hell no matter what. Same with black neighborhoods in Raleigh. Maybe they do want a return to segregated schools. Maybe white guys like me should stop worrying about what's "right" for them.
Final thought: It's a good thing I'm not yet a victim of institutional discrimination like this insurance scam against women. Because I'm pretty sure I'd be one of those people who goes postal.