A Conversation Between A White Male Writer and an Editor

WMW: writes about culturally cutting edge things like trigger warnings, Game of Thrones, and gentrification. Took an intro to feminist philosophy class ten years ago. Dated a black woman once for three weeks. Loves Emma Watson. Favorite book is The Sun Also Rises. Only drinks cold-brewed coffee with soy milk. 

Editor: Rose to the top of important publication without ever writing a piece that addresses race. Now makes enough to live in the “good” parts of Brooklyn. Fifth pitch of the day, needs to leave in about fifteen minutes to get the prescription renewed on her Warby Parkers. 

WMW: I’ve got it. I’m just fascinated by the rise of activism and oversensitivity on college campuses. Plus, I googled Oberlin once, so I think I understand the basics.

Editor: That’s so original. That idea has never been addressed in any other publication by a white male before. Definitely not in The AtlanticThe New Yorker, or The New Republic

WMW: I just wonder why this generation of students gets so mad about everything. Like, remember that time that a guy at Wesleyan published an editorial and then they wanted to defund the paper? What even is that?

Editor: It was something like they were mad because he said Black Lives Matter was anti-police? I personally have no problem with gross oversimplifications of a movement that supports an end to police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, and vigilante justice, so who knows what pissed them off.

WMW: I’ve got to be to the one that writes this.

Editor: Make your case, Jordan.

WMW: As an educated straight white male in his thirties, I’m uniquely qualified to understand the experiences of all college students.

Editor: Age is nothing but a number. Isn’t your ten-year reunion at Brown coming up?

WMW: I can relate to first-generation students, black students, Hispanic students, or I guess they like to be called Latino now, poor students, queer students, trans students … all of them.

Editor: You’re an everyman. You’re a blank slate. But, I feel like you might need to a do a little more research before you start.

WMW: Agreed. I’ll need to brush up on my Foucault. Probably some Marx. Or, I guess I could research that woman who’s always talking about Beyoncé, uh, bell hooks?

Editor: God, I always have to remember not to capitalize her name. It’s a grammatical pain in the ass. Who knows why she does it. 

WMW: It’s literally almost as hard as talking about that guy who did Birdman, uh –

Editor: González Iñárritu? (said like gone-ZAH-les in-a-REE-too?) Seriously. The squiggly thing AND two dashes.

WMW: It’s definitely gone-ZAH-les IN-ya-rih-too. I once studied abroad in Cuernavaca to find myself, so I know Spanish.

[both of these phonetic spellings are wrong]

Editor: Question. How are you really going to get the students to open up to you?

WMW: I’ll get to campus and be sure to ask around about who I should talk to. It’s just best to let others educate me.

Editor: Agreed. You don’t actually need to read any of the literature they quote, or understand what’s it’s like to be a first-generation student of color. Your outsider perspective is essential.

WMW: Then, I’ll come up with a catchy name for all of the students that allows me to make sweeping generalizations about all students at liberal arts colleges.

Editor: That’s essential. And we’ve got to put the word “millennial” in the headline to get as many clicks as possible.

WMW: I definitely don’t want to assume that I have all the knowledge in this situation. So it’s good that I can run ideas by you and my other white colleagues.

Editor: God, this whole thing reminds me of the time when I mentioned to Binh in layout-

WMW: The short one who’s dating Emma?

Editor: No, the other girl. I asked her if she could translate something from Chinese, and it turns out her parents came from Vietnam? How was I supposed to know?

WMW: If you had been her professor at CornellOccidental, or Claremont McKenna, she would have organized a bunch of her social justice warrior friends to demand for your resignation.

Editor: She was clearly being oversensitive. Thank god I dropped out of Iowa in time, or else I could have been like one of those poor professors who gets crucified for one stray remark.

WMW: Like that Yale woman.

Editor: Stands up for the right to freely express racism on Halloween and look at what happens to her.

WMW: I think that’s why this story is so timely.

Editor: We’re definitely on to something.

WMW: As long as I do it right.

Editor: I mean, February starts next week so we might be able to put it on the cover for the Black History Month edition. Don’t fuck this up.


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