Friday, June 19, 2020

White Privilege

If anyone accuses me of enjoying "white Privilege" I will invite them to look at my teeth.  There is a discoloration on them as a result many years ago to cover fever ridges, both cosmetically and to reduce cavity risk.  

Fever ridges are the result of a very high fever when secondary teeth are forming.  I had a 105 degree fever and we had no insurance.   The fever ridges were the result of my "white privilege."  

A lot of privileged whites assume their privilege was because of race, not that their parents worked hard to give their children advantages.  My kids were privileged but not by race, but very hard work and hard decisions my wife and I made.

And some of my elder siblings envy how easy my life was compared to theirs.  They often knew hunger.  My parents moved into Santa Monica from Los Angeles because the schools were much better.  (Two of my sisters went to a junior high in San Francisco in the 1950s where boys had knife fights in the halls, and girls used broken bottles. Very Blackboard Jungle.)  Santa Monica was a financial challenge, even back then when Santa Monica was a place where old people went to die, not a trendy home of the rich.  And my creepy, monstrous uncle (who deserved the suffering at the end of his life) was not around.

I did have several advantages that had nothing to with race.  Education was very important to my parents, and it was a house where everyone read.   I have recently learned that I was reading at two because my older brother taught me.

4 comments:

Tom Locker said...

White parents could easily prevent thier children from enjoying white privilege - Dad can dump Mom and have children with several other baby-mamas. He can begin a life of crime and drug & alcohol abuse eventually ending up in prison. Mom can go on welfare and start spending all her income on booze, moving frequently to interrupt the kid's education - also tell the children that studying, attending school regularly and behaving well in class is "trying to gain white privileged." Dumping the children and placing them in foster care for years at a time would also be helpful.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this perfect illustration. My dad spent his life in a foundry. My mom also worked her entire life, first nailing pallets by hand, in a crate mill, then in a restaurant, as a cook, finally buying the place with my dad, and running it for over 30 years. Then, after they sold the place, she went back to work for the new owners as a cook. My dad, who was older than her, would get up at 5:30 AM, and take her to work, have coffee with her, as she got the place ready for the breakfast crowd,then he went home and slept for a couple of hours.
My mom got stage 4 lung cancer, but kept on working for almost 2 years, until 2 months before she died. She was 79. My dad lasted one year more, almost to the day, and he died at 86.
I spent over 35 years working in a steel melting shop, which made metal to sell to casting industries for anything that required a specialty alloy. I had chances to attend college, but I wanted to start making a living. I had worked part time, 20 hours, the last 2 years of high school, pumping gas. I have worked since age 11, starting with babysitting, cutting grass, hauling hay and other farm work, a canning factory, and then the gas station.
Like you, my white privilege is in reality both hard work, and the willingness to suck it up and do the unpleasant things that nobody else would want to do. Most people won't work in a foundry or steel melt shop. The heat, hard work, lack of appreciation, etc.all wear you out, faster than office jobs.
Instead of breaking people down by color, I would much rather the people who crunch the data break us down by class, which often follows color lines, but just as often, it is the working poor white families who have a difficult time making a living.
I could show someone the many burns that I got over the years, that when I get a sun tan, do not tan the same way, and leave white blotches on my arms and some on my legs. I could tell about the young man that I trained and who was killed a month later, due to a mistake by another worker that caused him to be hit with 3,000 pounds of molten steel. I could tell you about a friend, who was mentally unstable, who took his two infant children into the shop on a Thanksgiving in 1987, and put them in a ladle and burned them to death. And I had to go back to work that following Monday.
Tell me how that is white privilege.
I could go on, but I have already said more than I should have, and it gets even worse. My point is, white privilege is just a term someone came up with to justify their own form of discrimination against white people. It does anger me, a lot actually, when I think of some of the other things that I have seen and done in my life, that most people would not even think of, yet alone have to deal with, and then have people tell me how lucky I am, and how easy my lot in life is, because I am white.
I can tell you one thing that I do know. The people who are at the lowest end of the financial scale in America, are the ones who take care of each other. I have been without a job,for a time, and have had to rely upon food stamps, or SNAP. And the stories you hear about people using them to buy lobster and steak are bulls--t. I have seen many people, including us, taking coupons shopping when using our bridgecard, to buy groceries, in order to make the money go further. I am sure that somewhere,someone abuses the program. But that is an exception, and not the rule.

pigpen51

ThatWouldBeTelling said...

This "primary pressure point" sounds like a terrible liability to have in your circle as our nation hurdles into what could end up a hot shooting civil war. This person caused you, I assume your wife, and probably others a great deal of grief over nothing. I'm guessing they aren't repentant enough to not pull this stunt again and again in the future, with potentially lethal results. I'm also guessing you haven't hardened your heart enough to protect you and yours as this mess escalates; it's something to think about, for there's every sign that "The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Out Of Stock - Permanently."

JLW III said...

You can’t make people middle class by giving them the accouterments of middle class life such as nice cars, well maintained living quarters in safe neighborhoods, modern kitchen appliances, A/C, smart phones, and color, flat-screen TVs. They need to have middle class mores. Finish at least high school. Get married. Get a job and show up on time, sober and properly attired while giving your employer an honest day’s work. Living wages will follow. Have children. Do it in that exact order.
The best environment for a child is to be raised by that child’s married, biological parents. There is no question about this.

These ideas are not original with me, but they need to be reiterated often, lest we forget.