Newsweek Bravely Highlights the Plight of the Beached White Male

Newsweek‘s cover story this week is on the plight of college-educated white men aged 35-64. The magazine laments that “this hitherto privileged demo isn’t just on its knees, it’s flat on on its face.” The subhead of the piece asks, “Can manhood survive the lost decade?”

Now, I have much sympathy for all who are struggling with unemployment. But are middle-aged, college-educated white males flat on their face and worthy of a trend cover story? It’s hard to square that with the piece’s own admission that their jobless rate is just above 5 percent. Most demographic groups would give anything for that kind of unemployment rate; black male college grads last year had an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, and for blacks as a whole it was a whopping 16 percent. (Notice, too, that the subhead assumes manhood is white.) A search of the Nexis database turns up no Newsweek cover stories on the epidemic of black male unemployment in the last five years.

I would also point out to Newsweek that single white men have a median wealth of nearly $44,000, and married white households have a median wealth of $167,500. Black married households, by comparison, stand at $31,500, single black men at $7,900, and single black women at $100 (Extra!, 6/10). When their Beached White Males lose their jobs, they have much more of a safety net to fall back on than pretty much any other demographic. No doubt Newsweek is at least vaguely aware of this–though they’re probably more acutely aware that Beached White Males and their employed counterparts also have more money to waste on magazines that feed into their anxieties.

About Julie Hollar

Managing Editor of Extra! Magazine
Julie Hollar is the managing editor of FAIR's magazine, Extra!. Her work received an award from Project Censored in 2005, and she has been interviewed by such media outlets as the Los Angeles Times, Agence France-Presse and the San Francisco Chronicle. A graduate of Rice University, she has written for the Texas Observer and coordinated communications and activism at the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Hollar also co-directed the 2006 documentary Boy I Am and was previously active in the Paper Tiger Television collective.