Growing up in my old hometown of Hialeah, Florida, complaints of “The Man keeping us down” were a common thing. According to the providers of the tales – mostly of the hippie or militant persuasion -“The Man” was some rich, white, Christian conservative guy who controlled the masses, had enormous wealth and could get away with anything he wanted, while keeping “us” (read: non-whites) down.

As time wore on, I took it upon myself to do some research on this guy they called “The Man,” not only for my sake, but for the sake of my downtrodden brothers and sisters being held down by this bastard. I started with the fact that “The Man” was some rich, white, Christian dude, but I quickly learned that it couldn’t be any of my white Christian friends or neighbors because most of them were just as dirt poor as my mother and me, if not poorer.

Next thing I looked into was the conservative tag “The Man,” and again, disappointment would rule the day. The majority of the conservatives I knew were also just as poor as we were and in no condition – financially or politically – to call shots for anybody but themselves, much less hold anybody down. In fact, there were just as many non-white conservatives in the mix that I figured looking into this realm was just another waste of my time, since you had to be white and Christian to be “The Man.”

Well, so much for “The Man” being someone that I knew. Personally, I was kind of hoping it was somebody close so I that could be in on all the secrets that got “The Man” to his prominent status in American society. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to be the token crony of someone that powerful? Imagine the crap you could get away with and the stories to be told!

But alas, this entity called “The Man” was proving to be an elusive blip on the radar. Further research yielded nothing much in terms of results and the smell of failure was looming like one of my buddy Chris’s protein diet-induced farts.

They tell me “The Man” runs this country and the world knows it. But if the world knows of such a reign, then why do so many immigrants from other countries come to the U.S.A. (legally and illegally) wishing to become part of American society? After all, if you knew a dictator was running the show, would you go to said show? I don’t think so. The other question is: how many people do you see leaving the U.S. in droves to escape “The Man” and his influence? Not even those who swore they’d move to Canada if Dubya got re-elected have left. What a pity.

That’s when I made a stark realization: There is nobody called “The Man” keeping anybody down. It was all a ploy to justify certain behaviors. Can’t find the high paying job you’re “entitled” to? Blame it on “The Man.” Can’t get good grades in school that you feel you “deserve” to get? That’s due to “The Man.” Got busted by the cops for doing something illegal that you feel “shouldn’t” be illegal? That’s “The Man” keeping you down. The candidate of “your” choice didn’t win an election? That’s got “The Man” written all over it!

In fact, “The Man” is behind so many things that it is impossible to be “The Man.” I have more belief in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy than this guy called “The Man.” My advice to those still caught on blaming it all on “The Man” is this: Think about it – that’s if the thing between your ears allows you to do so. In fact, in many cases, that’s the only thing keeping many people down. So the next time somebody comes up to you to tell you how “The Man is keeping you down,” just tell them you’re onto their little ploy and to stop wasting your time with such nonsense.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.