Powerful!- How this white man discovered his “White Privilege”

I want to apologize about my recent criticism of BLM. I think it’s time I OWN up to my “white privilege”. Please read my story:

My name is Randell Stroud — I was born in East Nashville, Tn, 1987. My father had 9 siblings growing up and also grew up in East Nashville. From 1965-2007, the East side is where all the drug deals and murders happened in Nashville. If you lived in East Nashville, whites were a minority. My dad had an alcoholic mother and had to drop out of high school to work and provide for himself full time.My father was attacked by a group of Black men who hit him between the legs with a baseball bat, the doctors said he could never have kids. My mom’s father was murdered after confronting a neighbor who stole some personal belongings after returning home from the Korean war. While there he also adopted a korean orphan boy.

After my grandfather’s murder, my mom had to grow up fast and take care of her siblings while my grandma worked double shifts as a waitress where she was harassed with unwanted sexual advances often. My mom and her siblings often moved around alot and sometimes had to steal food just to survive. When my parents had me and my siblings, we grew up on Dickerson rd in East Nashville, where prostitutes and drugs ruled the area.

Growing up in East Nashville, I personally witnessed a murder, armed robberies and several attempted murders. My father worked as a game carnie at local Fairs. It wasnt making enough money and he had no formal education, so he was forced to learn a flooring trade. He got lucky and made friends with a guy who was willing to teach him. He often worked 70 hours a week. Eventually his business got better and we moved into a nice house in a slightly better neighborhood inside east Nashville.

My father had many helpers he employed. He couldn’t pay them much but he tried. They often came from the trailer parks and had tough backgrounds also. One of my father’s helpers, Tony Taylor, a middle aged white man, got into an argument with police one night back in the 1990s when someone mistakingly thought he was a burglar while walking home from a bar late at night. He was handcuffed and restrained after telling the officers to go away and was beaten to a bloody pulp while cuffed. Tony Taylor died a few days later from brain injuries. The officers were not fired but placed on paid administrative leave.  There was some news coverage, but it was minimal. I remember one night my dad talking about it, as he punched a wall in anger.  My family life was a struggle. My parents often argued as my dad worked alot and loved to party, while my mom stayed trapped in the house. My school life wasn’t much better….

I was typically the only white person in my school classes. I often got made fun of and physically attacked by black students. They called me “corny”, “nerd”, “white boy”, ” vanilla ice”. I used to skip school to avoid getting jumped. I managed to make friends with some of the Cambodian kids, who offered some protection.  I got sick of feeling weak and started taking martial arts and boxing at the recommendation of one of my Cambodian friends.

I practiced 5 hours a day, six days a week. I didn’t care about my studies, I just wanted to be a good fighter so I would stop getting beat up. My first coach was a black man named “Ernest”, who treated me like a brother. It was my first positive experience with a black man. (we are still friends to this day). One day I got into an altercation with a black student who was also a gang member and this caused a hit to be placed on my head. So I had to switch schools. The new one wasn’t much better. My parents eventually  divorced while I was in 9th grade.

I got a job at a then black owned pizza place called “Castrilloes” , to help my mom out. Sometimes drug addicts and homeless people would wait for me outside on payday Friday to try and rob me when I walked home late at night after clocking out.  I tried to seek a promotion to work security for the building, but my boss said, ” I want to hire a black guard, nobody is gonna be scared of a white security guard.” I saved up for my first car using that job getting paid $5 an hour, it was a 1988 Buick Lesabre costing $1,100 dollars. The car was almost as old as me. Neither me or my siblings graduated from any college.

We had no scholarships and had to prioritize bills. College was expensive and not a necessity. I wanted to be a pro kickboxer but had my arm broken in a tournament around age 21, loosing my construction job as a result. No job wanted to hire me as I walked around with a cast on for almost a year. I only had manual labor experience. I had never really dated or looked for love because I was always so busy. So while looking for work, I took a break from martial arts and decided to pursue a girlfriend for the first time at age 21.

I started dating a young Filipino woman and eventually married her. I met her while in my cast. We worked multiple jobs and spent over 14K in legal fees to keep her legally in this country. While I was in my cast, I knew manual labor wasnt my thing. I was a fighter. One night while driving home from visiting my then girlfriend, a police officer pulled me over and claimed I was speeding and not wearing a seat belt. Both were lies. He wrote me an expensive citation. I was furious. I began going to the Vanderbilt Law Library to study the law books to fight the ticket.

Many people thought I was a student there. At Vandy, the Chinese foreign exchange students came from wealthy families who were paying their tuition and living costs. sometimes we got into political arguments and they always reminded me of my white privilege, that’s why I was lucky to be a student there (or so they thought I was a student). When my court date came 6 weeks later, I had already taught myself how to file motions and asked for evidence.

 

Me as a young man, going to court- fighting a traffic ticket, learning the legal system

The officer nor the state courts responded to my motions therefore they had no choice but to dismiss the case. I felt powerful! I then realized I could fight for justice without using physical martial arts. I could use my brain and intellect. The courts felt embarassed that I had showed them up in court. I then created a website teaching other poor people how to do legal research and build thier own legal motions. This lead to harassment from local authorities who felt I was undermining them. And perhaps I was, I was young and rebellious, but I eventually shut down the website due to the trouble it caused me. I ended up making friends with a Chinese law student who recommended, “Do it the right way, go to law school or get a job doing paralegal work.”

I knew law school was out of the question because of the cost. So I used all of my savings to buy some cheap online paralegal course. It was supposed to take 9 months to complete, whereas I did it in 3. My passion for learning about the legal system allowed me to accelerate fast.  Before completing the course, I ended up going through a divorce myself which cost me thousands in legal fees.

I got laid off from my job in the same month. Because I am a man, the courts automatically side with women overwhelmingly in family law court cases, so I ended up paying for my exes lawyer fees too. I found myself homeless and looked for a Men’s shelter, but men’s shelters don’t exist. They have tons of programs for women in terms of temporary housing and other social programs, but men are simply told to “man up”. This is why men are 6 times more likely to suffer from homelessness than women.

I was forced to move back in with family whereas I was constantly made fun of for being a “Loser”, a grown man living back with his family. Girls refused to date me because of this as well. But, I never gave up. I eventually got a job at a local retail store as an administrator. The job was stressful.

Most of my co-workers were very wealthy white Jewish sales people. One of my black co-workers was being racially bullied by other employees. He complained to HR frequently. He was allegedly fired based on him showing up to work late. He sued for the discriminating comments, and I was the only worker brave enough to testify on his behalf. Subsequently, in retaliation, they got rid of me from my position as well. Many of my co-workers made fun of me for being poor and suggested that poor people couldn’t be trusted because of their likely criminal nature. I attempted to bring a discrimination suit against them, but I couldn’t get a single lawfirm to agree that I had a case.  I was told by the Nashville EEOC , quote—

“You are a straight white male. You cannot be discriminated against. You have no case.” 

The investigator who told me this happened to be black. So, I  called up the Tennessee Human Rights Commission in Memphis. Another black investigator called. I was worried I would be told the same thing. His name was “Rodney”. I told him my story, and he said, “Sir, it sounds like you do have a case and might have been victim of discrimination and retaliation. I accept your case and will investigate.”  —  just like my black co-worker, who also testified on my behalf, I won my case just like he did. We are also still friends to this day.  (When blacks and whites team up- wonderful things happen)

On the job I was frequently made fun of for being poor, divorced, and having a law paying position. Sometimes we had minority customers who attempted to use coupons that had been expired for months. When I explained we could take those, I would often be accused of being “racist”. Of course this wasn’t true, the customer was just upset they couldn’t use the coupon. The job was draining me.  I knew I had to follow my dreams of helping people in the court system and find a new path.

I kept applying at law firms, and consistently got denied at interviews over and over for not having a degree despite my certifications and knowledge. Eventually, I interviewed at a law firm who was initially reluctant to hire me due to the lack of degree.  The interviewer looked frustrated and appeared to be sending me on my way.  Out of desperation, I started quoting famous court cases. “People V Lopez – intent is just as important as the action”,  “Yick Wo V Hopkins- The state cannot administer permits in a prejudical manner”. I then started showing the hiring manager my legal writings and my work teaching others how to write motions.

The hiring manager looked skeptical but was impressed with my passion. She said, “Alright, I can see you really want this, so I’ll give you a shot.” I cried in the parking lot from joy. Finally after so many rejections, a law firm was willing to give me a chance to go legit!  I was hired. But my battle wasn’t over.

Once my co-workers found out I didn’t go to college yet still had the same job as them, some of them felt upset about it. They were paying off their student loans, and there I was, with no student loans or college degree, doing the same job. I was handling mainly Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. I directly dealt with the most poor in society. Most of my clients were going through divorce, had medical bills, or their partner had just died. I heard so many sad stories.

I worked long hours even past the allowed time. We were all required to be out of the office by 6pm, however, because I was embarassed about living back with my family, and was ridiculed for it, and I loved my clients, I would often pretend to go to my car, waiting for my co-workers to leave whereas I would go back into my office sometimes till 1am, continuing to work on cases— saving people from losing their cars, homes, and businesses due to the bankruptcy proceedings.

Me during my first official paragal job as a lead researcher

I was eventually made to be the lead paralegal for the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy department in our law firm. I saved my money, got certified as a notary, so I could help out even more around the law firm. I was learning so much. I eventually gained the respect of my co-workers as I performed better and better. They called me the “hostage negotiator” because I was really good at stalling for time from the opposing party and I was really good at calming down frustrated clients. When someone was angry, I was the person who the call usually went to.

Eventually I was laid off due to the economy getting better. A better economy means less bankruptcies. I found myself unemployed again after working so hard. I managed to save up some money, but the alimony payments I had to pay my ex didn’t allow me to get ahead much. But, I perservered anyways.  I started teaching martial arts and boxing to both kids and adults, helping them get their confidence. I was making a little money and helping people at the same time.  As I looked for my next job, I realized that sitting at a computer all day at a law office was pretty boring 90% of the time. I loved my clients and I loved fighting hard for them in court cases, but I wanted more action.

Me testifying before the City Council about rent prices being too high

I decided to run for a political seat. I didn’t run as a Democrat or Republican but as an independent. I was excluded from debates, wasn’t promoted on any major news networks and basically had to run a social media campaign. I had a budget of $1,200 dollars. My opponent was a millionaire. I talked about issues like father’s rights, family law reform, legalizing cannabis. Everyone laughed at me. They said I would only get 5 votes, and those 5 votes would be from family! I recruited people in the Filipino and Cambodian communities to help me, since I was close to those communities.

The white community saw me as a rebel because I had so many South-East Asian friends, the Blacks saw me as just another privileged white guy, and the latino communities thought I was an ICE agent when I went to knock on their doors asking for their vote! Democrats hated me because I wasn’t Democrat and Republicans hated me because I wasn’t Republican.

I felt I was running an uphill battle. But, I kept knocking on doors. Hundreds of them. I made my own fliers. At one point, the Federal Election Committee threatened to fine me $10,000 because I didn’t put the disclaimer “Paid for by Randell Stroud”, on my fliers. I had to get a magic marker and physically write this on all of my posters around town. This took hours to drive around and write this message. While doing this, my car broke down and I had to spend more hours on the side of the road working on my car. Someone ended up calling the police on me and my campaign manager because they thought we were thieves trying to break into cars and houses. We had to explain we were simply putting out business cards for our campaign on people’s doors.

I ended up getting about 5,000 votes, or 18% of the total vote. My self-made Facebook commerical reached over 16,000 views. My advocacy on reforming divorce, child support, shared custody, and alimony laws also created a new conversation about equality for men in these courts.  In the family law courts, men are disproportinately robbed and abused by the system.  I traveled the country speaking on unfairness in the courts and other issues affecting our justice system, in particularly the unfairness towards men when it comes to sentencing for crimes.

Women typically get shorter sentences for the same crimes committed by men. I’ve done interviews with Native Americans about CPS abuses on the reservation, and worked with ACLU about civil asset forfeiture, a practice where police confiscate people’s property and don’t return it.

All of this lead me towards pursuing a career in investigations and journalism to where I’am at now. I am 32 years old, I still don’t make much money, but I love what I do. I barely scrape by, but enjoy solving mysteries, doing investigations, teaching martial arts to people of many backgrounds and demographics. My journey is still tough, and most things I just do on my own.  I’am still figuring things out. There is a world wide pandemic, civil unrest, riots, and uncertainty.

I wrote this article after covering the Black Lives Matter protests for journalistic purposes. I saw both white and black Anarchists destroying property. Chants of “Let’s kill some white honkeys”, to “All cops are bastards” to messages of “peace of love”. I saw it all. Over the years I have held many views. But after traveling, meeting both wealthy and poor blacks and whites, making friends with police officers, as well as having run ins with corrupt ones….I began to realize that racism and prejudice can only end when we look at the individual realities of peoples and stop grouping in everyone. It’s not about men vs women, or black vs white, or civilian vs police….. every case should be handled individually and every experience should be judged as so.

While covering these protests, a young black female gets in my face and says,— “You look like a cop! If you are, get out of here”. I responded “No, I am a journalist”.  She says,…

“You don’t know what struggle is! You have never had to go to school and fear for your life. You have never been treated unfairly in court! You have had everything in your life handed to you! You will never understand what it feels like to get treated differently because of your family background! So go write about that “Connor” ! Put that in a news story! If you support our movement go write a story about your white privilege!” 

(Apparently “Connor” is a name black people give to white people to reinforce negative stereotypes about white people such as being unable to dance well, cook, or having a small penis.) 

So I am taking her advice and am writing about my “white privilege”. So far, the only advantage that I have found in my whiteness is my uncanny ability to blend into my environment when it snows outside.  But, with all joking aside, we need to be honest with ourselves. If I was a white man in Mexico, I am likely to ripped off at the market for being a foreigner. Just as a foreigner in USA is likely to get ripped off.  A black person who lives in a majority white neighborhood is likely to get picked on just as a white person living in a mostly black neighborhood. When you go to China, you don’t see white politicians, or black politicians. Everything is catered for the Chinese because you are in China!

American businesses cater to whites because we make up 60% of the population. We are a bigger money market$. It wouldn’t make sense for me to go to an African country and sell hair products geared for white people. I would sell products geared towards African styled hair.

Lastly, I will say, if you are lucky enough to live in America, you have AMERICAN PRIVILEGE. Most people around the world live on a dollar a day without any access to food-stamps or social services. Many countries don’t even have a news media or a court where you can complain about police abuse or corruption. Perhaps both white and black Americans are spoiled to the fact that our culture and erosion of conservative values is leading to record numbers of atheism, divorce, drug use, single parent homes, and over degeneracy.

Racism is real. I have seen it in many forms. But to relegate racism, imperialism, or any societal negative trend and blame it all on the white community is lazy and form of the bullied becoming bullied themselves. The civil rights and feminists movements of the 1960s were fought out of dire need, while these movements now have turned into an all out war against anything that is heterosexual, conservative, and/or white.

Daniel Shaver, Kelly Thomas, or any white victim of police brutality gets ignored by media because it won’t be able to get enough views on TV, and the TV stations know that less views= less money. The media and the government literally profit from race wars and hatred.

The solution isn’t to vote Democrat or Republican. The solution isn’t to be for or against blacks. For or against whites.  For or against Asians. The solution is to follow the ways of the Buddha. To follow the middle path, to be an independent and search for the truth in the middle. Extreme beliefs never win. Or lets follow the ways of Jesus Christ to forgive one another and judge a man based on his deeds and capacity for change.

The United States has always been a place of controversy as it is a young multi-cultural country made up of generational immigrants. In spite of that, if you are lucky enough to have citizenship here, you have more opportunity than 75% of the world’s population.

So, next time you accuse a white person of being privileged, try interviewing him first. And the next time you want to feel sorry for yourself, look at your birth certificate. If it says, “United States Citizen”, then perhaps you need to check your privilege! Because you are living in a place where so many have risked life, liberty, and health just to be able to live here.

Conclusion: Racism is stupid. We are all little prejudice in our owns minds. It’s normal. We all make racial jokes in private or with our friends. Comedians do it too. That’s also ok. However, thinking that you are superior or inferior to someone based on history, culture, or skin tone is just plain STUPID.  If a cop uses excessive force on a human, regardless of race involved, we should all be outraged and call for that officer’s punishment. Us Americans are so far removed from our historical cultures anyway…..

As a white American, I never knew my culture as a European. Alas, recently I did some investigations and found out that my father’s side came here from England. So I am English! I am now motivated to learn about my English heritage and culture and perhaps visit there someday.

To close out this article, I will quote my Grandfather,  Jerry Wayne Dunn.

“I am not racist. I hate everyone equally. All of the races and cultures have stupid sh*t they do. But I tell you what. If someone tries to break into my house, I won’t ask their race, because my shotgun is equal opportunity.” 

**NOTE: This is very summarized article- It only cover a small sample of life- So much more has happened- But you get the idea.

  • Randell Stroud- Nalini Global 2020