The ability to change in a changing world is a great human asset — and a mark of resilience and intelligence. However, change gets harder as we grow older.
Assumptions we believed to be set in stone become wobbly. Structures that appeared secure are suddenly removed. And for white men over 50 in a world that is moving away from the white power structure that defined western society for hundreds of years, such shifts can be especially disconcerting and difficult.
A black man at a restaurant with a pretty white girlfriend might send a shiver down the spine of a balding white guy who grew up in a world where blacks and whites tended to date within their own race. A black female commander leading a mostly white platoon is likely to be watched especially hard for any flaws in her attitude, skills or ethic.
Blacks in an organisation demanding better treatment and aspiring to senior management was not the norm in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it is the norm.
21st Century Man is hands-on. He looks after the children equally with his wife or common-law partner. That is a big shift, especially for white men who in the 1980s manned the wheels of the western economy and were the primary breadwinners in their households.
Today, globalisation and austere economics, with the shift in blue-collar work to Asia from the west, has ripped that bone away. Inequality and offshoring have led to massive job and career insecurity and disenfranchisement of white working men. Blacks have not suffered as much from this shift, as the black man has always struggled in an unequal and highly prejudiced workplace.
In the 1980s, mainstream culture and media also were white. Black actors and newsmen had near zero access to the top of the ladder in western media and entertainment. Today, very slowly, blacks are adopting roles in the media that were exclusively for whites.
Old-fashioned ideas of masculinity also had a hidden narrative that was white and western. Today, those narratives are becoming “uncool.” The idea of social diversity in every area of society is the new norm.
Then there are the shifting demographics and migration patterns, as well as shifts in global power to the east. The preceding hammers away at Anglo-Saxon rule and the white male, as female and black leaders climb the power pyramid. Success is no longer measured by purely material and educational success. The marginalised minorities are no longer accepting of their “servitude.”
As blacks ascend the power ladders once solely manned by whites, it is the white male who now has to adjust. And he is not doing so gladly, from what we have seen in the United States over the past four years.