One of my best friends wrote a highly controversial article about the wage gap. I know many of you have read his writing and have some very strong opinions on the subject. I am not here to voice my opinion on the wage gap, but rather, I wish to address the fallout of his article.
In the days following the publication of his article, I don’t think I am wrong to say Blake became the most hated man on campus. I heard him become a victim of general character assassination by many people. In several cases, his intelligence was insulted and his opinion invalidated simply due to him being a white male.
These attacks were not just to devalue his opinion, but also his value as a person. People were trying to fit him into a tiny box based on a single opinion he voiced in a public forum. The word “oppressor” was used to describe Blake in the wake of his article.
According to numerous sources, of which I will use one article by Susan E. Mayer, the single best predictor of an individual’s future economic success is the income of their parents (Mayer, 2010). Blake came from a small home with a single mom working as a special needs teacher, so most of the women “oppressed” by Blake would be statistically predicted to make more money than him, wage gap aside.
What I have failed to see in the wake of Blake’s article are detractors starting a dialogue. In the litany of men and women who had issues with his statements, not a single person talked with him.
A personal hero of mine is the black American jazz musician, Daryl Davis. Since 1983, Davis has been personally responsible for upwards of 50 people leaving the Ku Klux Klan. He saved these lost people by talking respectfully and most importantly listening to them. Davis summed up his best advice as: “Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”
People are not simple. There is such a dense personal history in each of us that we all too often ignore. Whether or not they are correct, people hold their values for real reasons. Insults and defamation are no way to change someone’s views. If you fail to create a dialogue with those of differing viewpoints, you are the cause of a larger problem.
If we want to save this world and actually stop the oppression so many of us see, we need to talk to those with differing opinions with respect, no matter how deplorable their views may seem. More importantly, we need to start listening to each other. No one is going to change their mind if they don’t feel like they are being heard.
Written by: Jacob Mitchell, senior chemistry major