There's something so very broken with far too many white males in the U.S. Because I look like them, broken males feel confident that I'm one of them and consequently share openly with me their brokenness.
Not being one of them, my network, loaded with nonwhites, quite frequently shares with me their encounters with such broken males.
Last week, I received a call from a black friend of mine in Fort Wayne. She is 70 years old and small. She called after returning from a Kroger in Fort Wayne – returning home without going into the store.
She didn't go in because, once again, she was confronted by a big white guy who frightened her. In 2019, in Fort Wayne, she was accosted by a big white guy – and felt in fear of her well-being.
How did he frighten her? She pulls up and parks the brand, new car she is using, which belongs to one of her children, a local professional. My friend went to this store specifically to get a few things, enjoying the “nice produce.”
A new silver pickup pulls up beside her. Big, old white guy gets out. “Nice car,” he comments to my friend. “Thanks. It's my daughter's new car,” my friend responds, friendly, tickled that this stranger was being warm and complimentary. Tickled as the car reflected her offspring's career success and well-being that someone complimented.
“What pole does she dance from?” he retorts with a sneer. “Just another n----- with a new car,” he says with the smirk common to such broken impotence, sauntering off toward the store.
My friend froze to the spot, so struck with surprise by the vicious arrogance of this seemingly nice man. She climbed back in the car, sat shaking, and drove home and called me.
Big. Old. White. Male. Small. Old. Black. Woman. And really – who feared who?
This white guy, openly racist, knows he can get away with his racist bullying because he's intimidating by size alone relative to this diminutive, senior black woman. He feels free to bully because in his town, such brokenness is frequently and openly displayed in inter-group contacts.
Frequently, my friend shares stories of racially framed interactions she has with white folks of both genders in this “fair” northern city. They stun me as a rural white guy, stories so openly, flagrantly racist. Brokenness like one saw back in the '50s and '60s. I haven't witnessed such white male impotence, hidden behind their masks of hostility and arrogance, since I was a kid.
That bully would never have asserted his ignorance to a 6-foot-3 black male, same build, without the white guy being surrounded by other similarly impotent white males. They'd “have his back” in their shared ignorance, trying to intimidate and bully by numbers, since physical size wouldn't be enough. That's a way males assist each other to feel like they're important and higher-status than the bullied – pick on the vulnerable.
Last weekend, two white males, lost in the impotence of their ignorance and fear, fired into dozens of unknown people in two cities to prove how manly they are.
They didn't need shiny pickups. They didn't need similar impotents to have their backs. Their similars already had their backs by ensuring that fearful, impotent males can own guns designed for mass carnage and can own high-capacity magazines to ensure the ammunition access required for carnage.
The prevalence of so many broken males points to our broken culture – families, schools, religions/gods, politics. We've been taught all along the way that we didn't have to pay attention to the people who were being left behind in this culture.
From Fort Wayne to El Paso, we built these broken males with shiny guns and shiny pickups. When are we going to do something meaningful about our societal brokenness?
Mark V. Chaffee is a resident of Marengo, Iowa.