A fellow mediator posted the following discussion topic on his personal Facebook page yesterday:

"My observation, do you really think there is equal opportunity? It's a myth."

The comments to that simple question revealed a great deal about the commentators themselves.

For example, the first response was from a very fair skinned Caucasian woman from Texas whose Facebook page revealed that she's Christian, purportedly straight, middle class, and high school educated. I say "purportedly straight" because I would never vouch for anyone's sexualityother than my own, regardless of what any given person says and how they portray themselves.

Her comment was as follows:

"Perception is reality. I'm so proud my mom and dad didn't hand me a race or gender card when they told me I could do and be anything I wanted. You can, but... didn't happen. If you want to make it in this world, you will. If you don't, you'll make an excuse. My perception and my reality are that I have every opportunity everyone else has."

According to social science researcher Brene’ Brown, empathy is a skill set, the core of which is perspective taking. Along those lines, Brown says the following:

"Perspective taking is normally taught or modeled by parents. The more your perspective is in line with the dominant culture, the less you were probably taught about perspective taking. In the United States, the majority culture is white, Judeo-Christian, middle class, educated, and straight."

Considering Brown is referring to the "dominant cuture", the majority must fall within each of the categories listed. As such, by educated, Brown means those who have at a minimum graduated from high school. 

As such, the woman who praised her parents for not handing her "a race or gender card" falls completely within the dominant culture. Keep in mind that gender is not a category considered by Brown for purposes of determining the dominant culture, likely because females statistically make up a higher percentage of the population.

Taking all of this information into account, along with her comment, what the woman actually revealed about her upbringing is that her parents taught her nothing about perspective taking, likely for the very reasons stated by Brown. 

We can each speak to our respective life experiences. Her's are based upon her living in the United States and being a member of the dominant culture in each and every regard. She has no personal experience being a person of color, for example. In fact, she has no personal experience being a member outside of the dominant culture in any of the categories considered for purposes of defining the dominant cuture.

Some of us have personal knowlege as to how our experiences differ if our categorization were to change. This could be because, for whatever reasons, others miscategorize us, with or without our assistance. For example, people might assume that someone who is straight is gay or lesbian because they come across more feminine or masculine with regard to gender stereotypes. They might also assume that a gay or lesbian person is straight for exactly the same reason, because of how they portray themselves, or because they just assume that everyone is straight. 

Based upon what I could tell from this particular woman's Facebook page; however, I very seriously doubt that she has ever been miscategorized in any of the aspects considered to assess whether or not someone falls within the dominant culture.

When you fall completely within the dominant culture, what life experiences have you had from which to contend that the opportunities available to you would have been equally available to you had you fallen outside of the dominant culture in one or more aspects?

Remember, dominant means that more people fall within the categorization. Do people tend to connect more with those to whom they have more in common or less? That's a rhetorical question because the research on the topic is very clear. As such, the more a person falls within the dominant culture within each and every aspect, the more in common they have with more people. If you are a member of the dominant culture because you fall into the majority in each and ever aspect considered, then you have more in common with the majority of people in such regards. 

Might that cause more opportunities to be available to you? If so, what facts or personal experiences do you have to claim that the same is true of those who fall outside of one or more categorizations considered for membership within the dominant culture? Upon what basis do you claim that a person who falls outside of the dominant culture in each and every aspect has equal opportunities available to them?

If your answer is that they have more opportunities available to them as a result of affirmative action, I'd again ask what facts or personal experience do you have to make such a claim.

Mark B. Baer, Esq. is a mediator, collaborative law practitioner, conflict resolution consultant, co-author of Putting Kids First in Divorce, and co-founder of Family Dynamics Assistance Center. He also regularly writes for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.