Oh wait. Did you think I was trying to make the case there is no systemic racism in America?
This is how I define the term “people of color disadvantage” (or if you insist, “white privilege”): In my entire life, every time I applied for a job or met with a potential new customer or talked with a bank loan officer, the assumption was that I had good character — until I proved overwise. However, if I were black, then in those exact same situations the assumption would be that I had poor character — until I proved otherwise.
While all my fellow pale suburban kids were going through the race of life jogging merrily downhill, you were competing in the same race of life, but running uphill. That’s quite a handicap to endure, day in and day out, year in and year out.
Jackie Robinson I know, but who is Joel Boyd? Ah, I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you about Dr. Joel Boyd.
Many years ago I went off to college with the twin goals of getting an education and playing football. I had been fairly successful on the gridiron in high school, although it was pretty much a suburban pencil-neck geek whitebread league.
One of my fellow freshmen on the team was a guy named Joel Boyd. He was strong and fast, and soon distinguished himself as a terrific tailback. Also, he was black, which allowed me subconsciously to check off a number of stereotype boxes.
While I was devoting some of my efforts toward football and academics, and a LOT of my efforts toward partying, Joel was not only wracking up impressive statistics on Saturday afternoons, but was also studying really hard as a pre-med major.
After medical school, Boyd became an orthopedic surgeon. Eventually he became the team physician for the Minnesota Vikings and in 1998 was named the first ever African-American team doctor for the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
Surgeon and hockey fan? Hmm, those items were not on my stereotype checklist at all.
I wish I knew how to solve the chronic racial strife our country is experiencing. All I know is that whenever I’m tempted to embrace some of the old fear-inspired stereotypical ideas from my past, I just think of Dr. Joel Boyd. Then I realize that talent and character and perseverance know no racial boundaries.