Are White Men the Next Minority Group?

by Emily Jasper on March 1, 2011

The following post is available at Forbes Blogs – Work in Progress:

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. and U.K. A number of events are hosted all across companies, universities and communities to highlight the contributions women have made in history and contemporary society.

In all the hubbub of celebrating women, men might be feeling a little left out. In fact, I’ve noticed a trend of men wanting their own special interest groups. If women can have them, why can’t men?

One of the things that really caught my eye when it comes to men perhaps being left out of the equal opportunity efforts was a recent article in the Daily Beast: “Save the White Males!” Lloyd Grove walks us through a scholarship that is aimed at Caucasian males, a group people might assume already get enough attention.

Colby Bohannan, the 28-year-old president of the Former Majority Association for Equality that is coordinating the scholarship, says in the piece: “I’m not claiming that it’s a disadvantage to be a white male; I’m just recognizing that there is a subset of white and male that cannot afford the money for school.”

As I read through the article, the writing balancing between joke and fact, it got me thinking: There are plenty of groups out there we assume belong to a larger stereotype, and they don’t.

So when we think of young white males, we might pull up images of prep-school boys who are on the path to business success. Do we think of barely literate men in dying manufacturing towns, or men who have been raised in blue-collar neighborhoods and see only a future of clocking in and out? Probably not…

When it comes to targeting groups for aid or support, it’s becoming much harder. Think about the damage the Recession caused: leading businessmen and women lost jobs, potentially lost homes and defaulted on mortgages and were broke and moving in with families or on the street within months.

Those people and their children might still be Caucasian, but they’re far from having the limitless resources that one might assume white people have today. Those groups may need to gather and find a way to represent themselves.

Unfortunately, when we see people who share similar attributes or interests affiliating together, instead of encouraging support and idea sharing, it appears that they are forming a group to discriminate against those who “aren’t.” One of the things we really need to think about is which people does that group really represent. Are the white males targeted by this scholarship the preppy ones, or the disadvantaged who we may forget?

Are women gathering to support each other really presenting an anti-male front, or trying to support each other with the difficult life decisions we biologically have to make?

While the status quo for many years had been the “Good Old Boys Club,” the idea of bringing people together and helping them, through group affiliation or support, should be something all groups feel free to do, as long as it’s about positive encouragement, not discrimination.