There's a common hypothetical question that is frequently raised in public discussions of racial incidents : What if the situation was reversed or the races of the participants switched? At best, this question possibly serves as a shallow thought experiment about racial politics. At its worst, this kind of hypothetical rhetoric can lead to false equivalences that ignore political and historical context. Ostensibly, the story of Marcus Jacoby, The Minority Quarterback, provides an opportunity to examine one such tidy switch-a-roo, where the racial attribution of institutional power and minority status are reversed from the status quo of broader American society.
But how accurately does the experience of a white student at a predominantly black school actually reflect the experiences of American minorities in white-dominated institutions? There are certainly distinct commonalities: ostracization, judgemental hyperfocus, difficulties relating culturally, perjorative language and even the threat of violence. However, in telling Marcus Jacoby's story, the author touches on an important distinction: as a white man, Jacoby is "not good at being a minority." This ties in to Du Bois' concept of double consciousness. While Jacoby may have begun to experience this duality, being both an individual and a metonymic representative of his race, during his time at Southern University, he was doing so for the first time as an adult and as the result of a conscious choice. Du Bois and the author of this chapter would likely argue that most racial minorities would have inescapably been socialized to and internalized double consciousness and the gross structure of race in America from infancy. In this way, the experience of race is not solely dependent on the possession of power or majority identity of institutional microcosms such as a football team or a university.
What separates Jacoby's experience from that of countless racial minorities in comparable but racially-reversed situations is the perhaps inescapable life-long psychological experience of the latter. Though Jacoby's experiences were undoubtedly difficult and painful, and I do not mean to diminish his personal experience of suffering, he was ultimately a tourist in the world of minority status. His naivete, which compounded his problems (compared to his white teammate Bushart), was ultimately born of white privilege, and, perhaps most telling, it was privilege that allowed him to escape his situation when it became too much to bear.