You have the right to speak your truth. You don’t have the right to speak mine or anyone else’s. You have the right to put forward your perspective, but you don’t have the right to scold me and tell me you know what’s best way for me to handle experiences I’ve had that you don’t really know the first thing about. That is condescending and arrogant. It shows no respect for me or my experiences and it shows no empathy. How does your belief in God align with those traits or your admiration for MLK for that matter? I’m seeing a bit of a disconnect here………..

I completely agree that everyone needs to take responsibility for their own life and to do what they can to create the life they want to be living. That’s what I do for a living — I help people do that. But to imagine that personal effort will be enough in the face of overwhelming large-scale factors against you is the definition of entitled thinking.

Let me tell you a little story about a man that used to work with my husband at one of the top law firms in the country. He was an African-American guy who had worked hard, done well in school and progressed up through the ranks of the firm by being dedicated and intelligent. Along the way he’d put on some weight so he took responsibility for his health and started eating better and working out. He was so well thought of in his field that he was made an Assistant Attorney General. One night while driving home from a late night at work, he was pulled over by the DC Metro police for essentially being a buff black guy in an expensive car in a nice neighborhood — a “crime” that might well have cost him his life if things had gone sideways.

All of his hard work and achievement, all his self-responsibility could not save him from that, and in fact much of it worked against him. He had taken care of his health, he had worked hard enough to afford a nice car and to live in a nice neighborhood. You have never been pulled over based solely on what you look like or the assumptions made about whether or not someone like you belonged in the car you were driving and you never will be. That’s privilege!

Your gender and your race hold most of the power in this country and have since it’s inception. Up until 50 years ago there were laws and customs which actually codified much of that. Women couldn’t hold credit cards or businesses in their own names, were barred from juries and Ivy League schools, could be fired for being pregnant well into the 1970s. It was still legal to rape your wife in some areas of the US up until 1993! Banks routinely overtly discriminated against people of color as relates to what kinds of housing loans they could get well into the 1980s, effectively keeping many of them from having the stability of ever owning their own home. I could go on and on and on with the lists of systemic ways that white men have been and continue to be advantaged. Speaking up about that doesn’t mean that individual men are horrible. It means we have systemic societal issues that need to be addressed. And if you can’t see that, it’s because of your fragility- which is in fact a lack of taking personal responsibility for yourself. I’ve tried to appeal to your sense of fairness, but I fear that it is obscured by your insecurities, so I’m going to stop trying.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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