WHITE, middle-aged, middle-class male. That’s what I am, undeniably. I have long thought of myself as a supporter of women’s rights, of the rights of sexual and ethnic minorities. Yet here I am, the empirical fact of me, appearing in analysis after analysis as the foundation of a poisonous turn in Euro-American public life.

What should I do? What can I do?

The answers to those questions reverberate up and down my own timeline, and across the field of society before us. And before I assume any right as a pundit to suggest anyone else’s course of action or behaviour, I should examine my own path.

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When do you know you’re a white male? More precisely: when do you realise that what you are is not just the assumed norm of everything, but a particular history and position? For me, growing up in 1970s Coatbridge, it didn’t come from my community or schooling – there were hardly any non-white faces around.

But it certainly came from music and TV. Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire… Yet no matter how much you exulted in, sang along with and eventually drew inspiration from their stuff, there was always a sense that something difficult was being attempted here. The more I read into the political history of soul and jazz, the deeper the difficulty got.

I remember twice losing it as a young musician, around the issue of a white man in love with black music. Once, I was on Channel Four, during a live show called After Dark, which let the tape run as the guests got increasingly pissed and cantankerous at a open bar.

I remember passionately angsting (in front of legendary vamp Eartha Kitt, Pauline Black of The Selecter and others) about whether I was “stealing black music heritage”. A week later I got a letter – on his trademark skull-and-crossbones stationery – from Terence Trent D’Arby. It said not to worry, it was “all music” and he loved “Mozart, the Beach Boys and the Beatles”.

The next time was when I was recording a pop video in London. After a particularly lusty rendition, one of the grips sidled up and congratulated me. “It’s good to see the white singers getting a chance,” he muttered. After I exploded at him – I don’t think he lasted the day – I perplexed over his words (and have done so for years). Appreciating the power of black American music – its beautiful, intense defiance of daily and historical oppression – has been one of the great civilising lessons of my life.

Yet I thought back to this poor wee technician in the early hours of the Trump victory, when the US TV pundit Van Jones described the result as a “whitelash” against the presence of a black family in the White House. As a peacenik and leftist, I can object to many of the outgoing President’s policies over the preceding eight years. But the grace, intelligence and authority of Barack and Michelle Obama is undeniable – they seem like superior, not inferior creatures.

Strong emotions are shadowed by their opposites. So if, as a white male, I exult in the spectacle of black cultural power, I should be able to imagine those who are as equally intimidated by it. In one of his closing speeches, mocking Hillary Clinton’s celebrity concerts, Trump quipped “here there’s no J-Lo, no Jay Z. Just us, the American people”.

As if those black and Latino megastars were not members of the American people. Like many of Trump’s messages, it’s not so much a dog whistle as a dog howl. Yet, I also understand the humanistic response to all this. One that asks if we could, perhaps, reduce the intensity of these identity clashes. Can’t we put the white male, along with every other fraction of social humanity, into some kind of common space?

There’s an orthodox (and tempting) left-wing response to the whitelash critique of Trump and Brexit. Isn’t this what happens when a historic western proletariat (yes, composed of mostly white males) is smashed to bits by neoliberal capitalism for 40 years?

And, having been promised a number of false dawns by centrist politicians, they finally snap – readily responding to the call that minorities and ethnicities are to blame for making their conditions so insecure?

The length of time this has been brewing – since the New Right regimes of Reagan/Thatcher in the 1970s and 80s – means that many monsters have been growing in the cracks. And the internet has empowered them to crawl out of these shadowy places.

The so-called “alt-right” – signified by Trump’s head of strategy Steve Bannon, who was editor of their online house journal Breitbart – is part of a deeper continuity. The current buzzword term for it is the “manosphere” – but there has been a lengthy brewing-up of white male militancy in the US.

Take the “Iron John” men’s movement; the National Rifle Association’s activisms; right-wing shock-jocks on the radio; anti-abortion and fathers’ rights protests; or the “pick-up artists” craze. And recently, I’ve noticed a curious tech-oriented cult called the Dark Enlightenment or NRx (standing for “neo-reaction”). They welcome Trump’s authoritarianism as the solution to democracy itself. They also readily ally themselves with self-described “neomasculine” movements.

Any student of history might be reminded of the 1920s Futurists here. These were also explicitly “virile” men, celebrating speed, technology, force and decisiveness. And we know what they paved the way for.

So what does a progressive white Scots male, standing upright in 2016, do in the face of all this?

It’s tempting to say: “Let the Yanks behave as they wish. Over here, we’ll just go with the majority.” In Scotland, that majority votes for parties whose leaders are predominantly female, or possess a range of sexual identities. There’s not much militant white-male angst evident in any of these mandates.

The ethnic-minority presence in Scots public life is still proportionately low, even given their smaller numbers compared to other parts of the UK. Nor do our panels, forums and broadcast outlets always manage at least gender parity in speakers. If we pale blokes are in power positions – where we can recruit, commission or boycott in order to rectify these imbalances – we should do so.

There is no shortage of angry white males in Scottish society, as I can confirm from standing in a teachers’ pub the other night, watching Celtic flail away against Barcelona (although the eruptions were at least entertainingly self-mocking). But we should be consciously trying to figure out what keeps the social peace in Scotland, and not leave it to a complacent-liberal version of “wha’s like us”?.

In that spirit, I must honour a wee white man I encountered the other day, holding on to a giant and dusty black plastic telly at a bus stop in Glasgow.

It was a tense moment. A flustered older white lady, grandweans and message bags in each hand, had started to berate a tall, black African man on the other side of the queue.

“You people are always jumping in front – who do you think you are?” The black man started to protest, so did I, as did others (on both sides).

In front of us, the aforementioned wee white man wrestled himself round and spoke up loudly. “Come on now, everybody. That’s enough. We’ll all get on the bus eventually. Some people get into a fuss all aboot nothing.”

As he spoke he caught everyone’s eye, with determination and care. And the voltage earthed out of the situation. The granny sat next to him at the front of the bus, where he told her the TV “was for watching the fitba in bed”. The black man sat next to me at the back of the bus, downloading his various racist experiences with considerate annoyance. But we all made our stops, eventually and peacefully. Some wee white men know exactly what to do to keep us all going in the same direction.