The Grey Blog

The Making of An Old White Guy

It is the time of year when people reflect on their past and consider their future.

So here is my year end reflection.

I turned fifty this year.

You know what that means?

I am an old, white guy.

That sucks for me because, in my estimation, the biggest, current threat to civil society and progress is…


I am having trouble reconciling this because I do not feel like I am part of the problem. At least I do my best to avoid being part of the problem.

I mean I don’t ever troll around Twitter and Facebook calling people with whom I disagree “libtards,” “fascists,” “nutjobs,” “baby killers” or “pieces of shit.” In addition, I honestly do not have time to care to lock anyone up who does not truly deserve to be locked up regardless of their political leanings – I’d rather just exercise my right to vote. I am not a conspiracy theorist nor do I live in a fantasy world. I endeavor never to berate people, bully them into submission or use a scattershot approach to confrontation. Direct and surgical has always been a more effective approach for me anyway.

But here I am, still an old, white guy.

Is this the face of an OLD WHITE GUY? (Photo by Cedric Smith)

I do not take joy in another’s pain. I do not find it funny when a mouthy celebrity who has said stupid shit in her past, maybe even offensive things, gets lambasted in social and other media because she is currently suffering from mental illness and is potentially suicidal. I don’t see the satisfaction that people get in that. Maybe she has always suffered from mental illness. Maybe that is why she said the stupid shit in the first place. Who knows? Maybe we all have things in our past that we would rather not have revisited. I know I do.

But here I am, still an old, white guy.

I try very hard not to use euphemisms like “the people who live near me,” “the people causing all the crime,” “those people,” or “I have a lot of black friends,” to mask my true feelings. (For the record, I do not have a lot of black friends). Further, I believe that most police officers are good people who do the job to serve their communities and not to kill young, black men. I believe that racism has been significantly mitigated over the last one hundred and fifty-five years, but, that said, I also believe there is a lot more work to be done. I know we must, as a society, continue in our efforts to eliminate racism completely and eradicate the general intolerance that seems to be building.

But here I am, still an old, white guy.

I do not believe that the way for our civic, governmental, business, religious and social leaders to lead is to do so by pointing their fingers of blame, ducking for cover, pandering to or preying upon their constituencies or sitting on their hands. I do not rant on Social Media telling others how smart I am only to soothe my own insecurities (which are indeed plentiful). Luckily, I’m not that smart anyway.

But here I am, still an old, white guy.

I do not support a work environment in which any class of people can be systematically harassed, harangued, disrespected or physically abused. I do not tolerate inappropriate comments, inappropriate touching or inappropriate leering in our workplace. I also totally frown upon junk-showing of any sort, unwanted texting and sexting, or the demanding of naked, nude or otherwise provocative photos from one’s subordinates. Further, I expect my business partner to hold me accountable, kick me in the nuts and terminate our relationship if I am not upholding and abiding by those standards.

But here I am, still an old, white guy.

I am a deeply flawed old, white guy. I can be selfish, dismissive, obtuse and stubborn. I can be mean to my wife and angry with my dogs when, in actuality, I am really just frustrated elsewhere in my life. I can be condescending, prideful and a bit of prick when I choose to be. I forget stuff and run my mouth in an unfiltered way at times. I swear often and hardly ever smell the roses. I have been known to drink too much, stay up too late and, if those things happen to happen simultaneously, well… then I can pontificate until the cows come home. Old friends of mine even came up with a term for this particular circumstance. They refer to that me as “4 AM Johno.” If you meet him, save yourself and run.

So, through all of this reflection, here is what I discovered about OLD WHITE GUYS.

I am not one.

Being an OLD WHITE GUY is an affliction of the fearful. It is a state-of-mind that does not care what your race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation or political leanings are. OLD WHITE GUYNESS is propagated by leaders who sell fear for a living. They sell fear of the different and the threat of the unknown. They offer, as an alternative, sanctuary and safety in homogeny – white, black, Christian, Muslim, Republican, Democrat, gay or straight homogeny.

Buy into the fear in which those folks trade and every last one of us can become the “OLD WHITE GUY.”

But not me.

I am not signing up for that.

I am fighting that fight with my last breath.

The only things I want pinning that label on me are the facts that I am old, I am white and I am a guy.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all.

– Johno

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