Who is Andrew Einolf?
Andrew was born in 1967 in Media, Pennsylvania and moved with his younger brother, mother and father to Richmond, Virginia when he was seven years old. His father was a mass spectrometrist for Philip Morris and his mother was a school teacher; both are now retired. He attended and graduated from Trinity Episcopal High School and received his Bachelor's degree from William and Mary. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Masters in Arts of Teaching and become a 5th grade teacher and an administrator in elementary schools. While working as a teacher, he was awarded his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. After 20 years as an educator, he went back to school to receive a masters in social work and currently works as a parenting coach and an intensive in-home counselor for families. Andrew lives with his mother, wife, and son and identifies racially as Caucasian. Andrew got involved in the Facing Whiteness project after answering an email about the project and due to his concern about the inequalities related to race and socio-economic status. Andrew is a staunch proponent for racial reconciliation and recognition of how historical precedents affect the outcomes of modern society.
Excerpt from interview with Andrew Einolf by Whitney Dow, 2018
Q: You say you don’t think about your whiteness, that it’s not that important to you. Would you give it up voluntarily?
Einolf: [18:59:32] Well I think it’s kind of a silly question, to say “Would you give up your whiteness?” Because you don’t really have any control over it. I mean, there’s a funny Eddie Murphy skit from Saturday Night Live where he goes on a bus disguised as a white person and everything’s very different. You know, it is again unfortunate that that’s the way we are. I think the only thing that probably, that the United States could benefit from is something like they did in South Africa, with the reconciliation with Nelson Mandela. If we had something like that, it could really go a long ways towards you know, making racial disparity recognized and a lot of reconciliation. But that’s not how America is. America’s very much a vindictive society that works on crisis and justice is not really justice, it’s revenge and retribution. So, unfortunately I just don’t see—I think it’s going to be with us forever. I don’t see that there are any solutions to it, necessarily.
The Civil Rights Movement was the closest we ever came, but it didn’t last very long. Like I said, I’m kind of a Civil Rights—I have interest in it, and I really respect [Congressman] John Lewis, who’s now a current congressman for Georgia and he was one of the founders of the Student Coalition for Non-Violence [sic] [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] and the protest and such. If you read his autobiography, it lasted for maybe two or three years before the whole thing basically fell apart. And again, it’s because culturally, Americans just—this whole issue of race, it’s so loaded and it’s so dysfunctional that progress is made incrementally and it’s made more by accident in a lot of cases than by some kind of purposeful action.
Q: But I guess I was thinking about this idea of giving it up or not. I know you can’t give it up, right? But I talk to a lot of people that say, “I don’t think about it. I don’t care about race one way or another.” And I say, “If you walk out that door and you emerge as yourself. But if you walk out this other door, you’ll have a fifty-fifty possibility that you will emerge as yourself or emerge as a black American. Would you consciously choose one door or the other?” That’s about being attached to it.
Einolf: [19:01:44] So this is sort of like The Matrix. Take one pill, you’re black; one pill, you’re white. You know, again it has more to do—I don’t think it would change who I was, but it would change how I was treated. But at the same time—you know, it’s interesting, because just as an example. Again, I think that education and socioeconomic status have more of an impact in some ways nowadays. Or at least, change that dynamic.
I have married couple friends, they’re married, both are very successful and they’re African American. One is a professor at a local university, the other is—I think it’s Dartmouth [College]—Dartmouth-educated lawyer. So no matter what their race would be, they are exemplary products of their education and their upbringing. But what’s really interesting is the wife in particular, she has a—she has expressed a pre-conceived stereotype or belief system where she—if something is said to her, or she sees an action, she’ll automatically assume that that person is acting that way because they’re a racist. I think that would be a great burden to have personally, to have that kind of mindset where you just felt like you couldn’t really trust anybody just because of the color of your skin. So yes, if I had a choice, I don’t want to live that way. [Laughs] So yes, I probably wouldn’t want to be black if that’s the conditions that you had to live under.