Editor's note: This article is a part of a head-to-head. Read the other article here.
American men’s magazine Esquire recently did a cover story about a 17-year-old white male Ryan Morgan, “An American Boy.” Did I mention this issue was released at the beginning of Black History Month?
People are angered that a conservative, white male was given the title of an ‘American boy,’ but is that really so far from the truth? Is it false that his narrative isn’t the one ruling the country? The only falsity in this story is the notion that he, basking in all his white privilege, is the one who is in danger because of his identity.
The people who are really in danger are those of us living under his beliefs and identity — black people, women and poor people. “Last year was really bad,” Morgan said. “I couldn’t say anything without pissing someone off.”
I am not empathetic for him at all. I am not sad that he feels silenced because he has controversial beliefs. Where is that empathy for people like me? My skin color and my female anatomy is controversial, and I can’t change either of those things. I am walking controversy before I even speak.
I don’t feel sorry for someone who doesn’t care to educate himself on the issues. “What does that mean again?” Morgan asked when the interviewer questioned him about the #MeToo movement.
Morgan got into a fight with a woman and was prosecuted for it. He says that if he were a girl, things would’ve been different and that he probably would’ve gotten away with it.
The sexism jumped out. “I guess girls sometimes just do that,” he said. “It happened once when my mom was in high school. A girl purposely broke her own arm just to get another person in trouble.”
He carries the dangerously common mentality that female accusers are liars who lie about abuse to get men in trouble. False accusations have occurred, but rarely. He knew exactly what he meant by saying that. And, he is not alone in this belief. It is actually baffling that he feels uncomfortable in his identity when it is supported by the president.
Morgan doesn’t support welfare, condom distribution, abortion or mothers in the workplace.
“I don’t know why it’s always white males shooting up schools,” Morgan said. “In the inner-city schools there are shootings and stuff, but it’s more like ‘I hate this kid because he touched my girlfriend, so now I’m going to shoot him.’”
There is an obvious parallel. As if white shooters are more justified in killing people than black people who, in his eyes, kill each other for trivial reasons.
Morgan had nothing meaningful to say on any of the topics challenging America today. He just reinforced them.
None of what he believes is a surprise, and I’m sure Esquire really thought this was a revolutionary story. In reality, it’s just tired. I go to class with “Ryans” every day — my president was probably a "Ryan" in his youth. And “American Boys” are not in danger.
Black people live in fear. Our parents coach us on police interactions so we come home alive. Immigrants fear deportation and being shipped off to camps under the reign of the president Ryan so fearfully supports. Women live in fear of being abused and in fear of not being believed if they do come forward about abuse.
Minorities are targeted because of who they are before they even get to share their ideas — that’s danger. Meanwhile, a white conservative is being coddled because people are finally challenging the ignorant, racist and sexist beliefs he and many others hold.
People like Morgan are so afraid because the ideas that keep people like him on top are finally becoming unacceptable. He is not at risk of anything except a rightful challenge against his toxic masculinity.
Olivia James is an 19-year-old freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.