For white guys, glass ceiling remains under their feet

March 17, 1995|By MIKE LITTWIN

The results are in. And, wouldn't you know it, white males rule.

In fact, we kick butt.

In case you didn't hear, it's now official. We're No. 1. We've got 2 through 10 pretty much locked up, too. In fact, you pick the number, look him up in your program, and it's probably going to be a white guy.

That's the news from a bipartisan commission of bureaucrats, who wouldn't even have their jobs if we didn't pay way too much in taxes. They issued a report finding that white males make up only 43 percent of the workplace -- but have big-footed their way into 95 percent of the senior-management jobs in Fortune 2000 companies.

And this is 30 years after affirmative action.

How do I feel personally, as a white male of my gender? Couldn't be happier. Couldn't be prouder. In fact, I'm feeling so good I think I'll go out and buy the little woman something nice. First, though, I'm gonna light up a victory cigar -- while it's still legal.

My only concern is that people are now going to think that we actually need affirmative action. Before this report, we had Newtie and Dole and even Bill Clinton (all white guys, I believe) talking about dismantling the programs or at least revisiting them.

But, if I'm going to be honest here, for many of us white males who actually got through high school, affirmative action is not exactly a big deal. I know. You've heard us say a thousand times, "If you're a white male in this country, you can't get a job anymore."

Or you can't get a raise.

Or you can't get no satisfaction.

How do I explain this? Marine to Marine, as F. Lee Bailey would say, we were just kidding.

Basically, affirmative action is a problem for -- this is just an example -- some Midwest wannabe fireman, who heard the stories about Playboy centerfolds on the station wall and really dug sliding down that pole. He's always the one who's convinced some (what do we call them now?) African-American or pushy broad is going to get his job.

These are the angry white males you hear about. They're the guys on talk radio. (Typical caller: "When's the white male gonna get a break in this country? And what's up with ice beer?")

They're the people who would follow Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh into war, if Newt and Rush hadn't actually dodged the draft themselves.

Then there's the scared white guy. He's the white-male middle manager who is competing with a few women middle managers and black middle managers. The idea is to keep them all scared, so everybody works 80-hour weeks and nobody complains about health care. It is a great country.

It's especially good if you're on the top end of that glass ceiling everyone talks about. I've found a plus-glass-ceiling alpha male who's willing to discuss what it's like up there.

"We're not angry white males," he says. "What would we possibly have to be angry about?

"We got big houses. We got big decks on the back of our big houses. We got swimming pools. If the pool man doesn't show, we got country club memberships. The company gives 'em to us, gratis."

I ask him about the effects of affirmative action. He chuckles.

"We pretend it's a problem," he says. "Look at the Senate -- what, we're down to 94 white guys? Looks like we got most of the people who matter -- generals, admirals, football color analysts.

"But, if somebody asks, I say I'm doing my darnedest to promote diversity, if only the government would get off my back. I go home and tell my wife the same thing -- we're trying to find qualified women. We're trying to find qualified African-Americans. The truth is what we're mostly trying for is to get a good tee time."

He pauses for a moment.

"The best thing we've got going is the O. J. trial. You've got an Asian-American judge. You've got African-American lawyers and women-American lawyers. I just wish they had a gay-American lawyer. A really short guy would be good, too. You watch the trial and you think maybe somebody who doesn't have shiny green golf pants in his closet is in charge.

"This is how we keep people happy. Down there, beneath that hallowed glass ceiling, you've got your black history month. You've got your year of the woman. You've got Chinese New Year every year, for God's sake.

"But up here, every day is our day."

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