Compelling White Guy Stories

Some stories are more compelling than others.  Some Latina females have compelling stories.  So do some white males.

Is this story compelling?

  • A woman went to private grade school, high school, college and law school, all in the normal sequence.
  • Immediately after law school, at age 24, she worked as an attorney and later became a judge.
  • Married, divorced, no kids.
  • Last year she made over $200,000 in salary, but that doesn't go as far as one might think in Greenwich Village, where she owns her condo.

There were some tough times.  Her father died when she was nine.  She grew up in public housing.  She is diabetic and needs insulin, a condition shared by about 1.2 to 2.4 million others in the US.  Her mother worked hard as a nurse, at times holding two jobs.

Oh, and she's Latina.

Of course, I'm talking about Sonia Sotomayor, who said,

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Or not.  I hear that some white males go to school and become attorneys.  Some have diabetes.  Some even have mothers who worked hard.

Some had a parent die when they were young.  Of the dozen or so close male friends I grew up with, two lost a parent in grade school or high school.  My own three children lost their mother (my wife) when they were eight and two.

About that public housing thing, we are reminded by people like Jesse Jackson

"that invisible poor are white. The visible poor are black and brown. But most poor people are neither black nor brown. They're white."

So by my math, the only difference between a Latina woman and a white male is that the white male is white, and male.  (Assuming you consider Latino as non-white, which Judge Sotomayor apparently does.)

Not to belittle Judge Sotomayor's achievements, but the "richness of her experiences" seems to drop off past adolescence.  Once she started Princeton (at age 18?), her experiences of successful student, attorney and judge might be rich, but how different from white males who also became judges?

Believe it or not, white males can have rich experiences.  And some rich experiences are known to happen after childhood.

For example, did Judge Sotomayor witness the birth of her first child and see the physician panic as he realized the umbilical cord was wrapped three times around the child's neck?  I did.  Does she remember her thoughts at the moment she realized there was a chance her first-born child might be an invalid for life?  I do.

Did Judge Sotomayor lose her spouse and life companion when her children were young -- two still in diapers -- to become a single parent?  I did.

Did Judge Sotomayor watch her daughter dying slowly of heart disease, but then saved by a heart transplant at the age of 15?  I did.  Did she watch her daughter start to hallucinate and lose consciousness just before a doctor plunged the largest needle in the world through her chest in an emergency to drain the fluid around her heart and save her life?  I did.

Those white guys I grew up with had some experiences, some of which might be called "rich."  Some enlisted in the service, in wartime.  Some went to college and some didn't.  They all worked, and in virtually every case, in a job they didn't like.  Most had kids, which tended to tie them to those jobs they didn't like.  Some had healthy kids, and some didn't.  Some lost loves and some lost loved ones.  I know of no marriage that was trouble-free.  Some succumbed to substance abuse.  None became wealthy or powerful.

The kid who lived across the street from me where I grew up, my best friend through much of childhood, is now in prison for life for murdering his girlfriend.

I reveal these things not to get sympathy or anything like it, but because I am sick and tired of so many non-whites and females acting like white males know nothing of life but some kind of mythical white-bread experience.  Here's a hint: nobody grew up with Leave It To Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet.  Those were TV shows.

White males in real life tend not to go on Oprah, so you non-white females might not be familiar with us.

You might think white guys wear suits in suites.  That's where you find them on TV.  Here is where I see white guys: in uniform on military bases around the country, in gowns in hospitals, in shirts with name patches and changing the oil at the quick-lube, in greasy jeans fixing my plumbing, teaching my kids algebra, giving mouth-to-mouth to an unconscious victim who just vomited, volunteering in community theater, collecting money at the local intersection for handicapped children.

The richness of our experiences is what we white guys call "life."  I'm sure Princeton was rich, too.

Judge Sotomayor's statement does not bother me because it is racist.  It bothers me because it reveals shallowness and a poverty of experience that has no place on the bench of the Supreme Court.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at or  via his web site,
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