My white privilege

The latest progressive topic making news, white privilege, has caused me to stop and consider my own situation as a white man.  What privilege have I had that has produced a middle-class success for me?  Was it white privilege?

Let's see.  I was born to two parents who not only were the only people they were ever married to, but also stayed together in that marriage until death parted them, as did their parents.  They instilled in me a sense of social right and wrong and a respect for the law, and they saw to it that I was in church on a very regular basis.  They set the example for my siblings and me by actually walking the talk in every facet of life.  They were involved in my life. 

My upbringing would be called lower-middle-class by today's standard, to the point that my mother went to work in the 1960s and '70s because our family needed the extra income to make ends meet.  I still remember her reconstituting powdered milk and pouring it into the milk jug to stretch the large amount of milk that four growing children needed.

Based on their example, training, and oversight, I worked to get good grades in high school and graduated with a diploma.  While I was fortunate enough to attend college (not a requirement for success, by the way), I had to work a full-time job to pay for the last two years of my degree. 

I then married 33 years ago to the one and only person I've ever been married to, as has she, and after getting married, we bore and raised two daughters, both of whom are self-supporting adults.  We tried to instill in them the same foundational beliefs and actions that both our parents did in us.

When I first entered the workforce in about 1975, affirmative action programs were in place to ensure that minorities were not overlooked for employment.  This actually had morphed into a positive action to hire minorities, which caused the job market to tighten for non-minority workers.  So in some sense, my ability to find employment was more difficult during those years, and being white actually hurt, not helped.

And the amazing thing is that when we look at black Americans, we see that those who followed the steps above have a family income within five percent of the norm, including whites.  In studying all people, regardless of race, we find that those who follow those simple rules benefit from "privilege."  We see strong examples in the Indian and Asian communities and in legacy Hispanic/Latin households that exceed the economic gains of whites, primarily because of the items listed, with an emphasis on parental involvement. 

This is not white privilege, but the privilege of following the American culture, so let's call it "American privilege."  Anyone who has that can be a winner.  Go against that, and almost certainly failure will pursue you. 

So no, I didn't benefit from white privilege or from racism to succeed; I benefited from "American privilege."  I benefited from two solid parents who raised me well, and who raised me to participate in the American culture.  The same culture that for 200+ years build this shining city on a hill that is a beacon to the world, and the place to which so many people want to come.  And it is open to all who wish to partake.

That is my privilege.