I am white. At least that’s what I am referred to. Technically my skin color is a very light shade of brown and not really “white” per se. Maybe it’s considered more of an off white? Due to my European ancestry, I came out of the womb this way. Just like anyone who reads this, the color of my skin wasn’t offered to me as a choice.
I suppose this must have been the beginning of my white privilege.
My earliest memories are from living in a little neighborhood in a small, Washington town. We played outside with the other neighbor kids and life was carefree. My dad’s job transferred him, so just like that, we were uprooted and moved to California.
California was pretty good. We made new friends and I started school. The neighborhood was bigger and different than Washington but we adjusted to it pretty quickly. My parents separated and once again, my mom and we kids uprooted and moved back to Washington.
I’m pretty sure the responsibility for a broken home lies with my white privilege.
Over the next few years we bounced around. My kindergarten through 5th grade education was spread across 6 different schools. Each move or change meant saying good-bye to friends and then starting all over making new ones. Being the new kid all the time gets very tiresome, especially for an introvert such as myself.
Moving a lot meant that we didn’t have any solid roots. Each new neighborhood had the group of kids that have been growing up together for years. Breaking into those groups was easy and tough. Most were pretty accepting of the new kid, but bond building was being done from scratch.
From the 5th grade on, life was a bit more settled. We did move again, but at least I was able to attend all of middle school at the same facility. I also got to attend the same high school from freshman year to graduation. That was nice.
I blame my unsettled childhood on my white privilege.
Growing up with a single mom raising 4 kids meant money was tight. We shopped at the cheaper grocery stores, had government cheese and hand-me-down things. But we were happy. I didn’t even know we were poor for a long time.
It’s not like we never got anything new. My dad would send us kids presents for Christmas and birthdays. And mom did what she could to keep it all together. Sure, we didn’t have cable TV all the time, but we learned to do without. We did just fine.
I grew up poor because of my white privilege.
I didn’t make it to college for a few reasons. One was, we didn’t have a college fund, another was ignorance. I had no idea how to get scholarships, grants or financial aid. I also didn’t know who to ask about such things. To top it all off, I was tired of school, so I went to work full time rather than go to college.
Any post-high school education opportunities were limited by my white privilege.
I was taught that if I wanted something, I had to work to get it. The time came when I wanted an electric guitar. I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant and saved my money so I could get one. I didn’t get my license when I turned 16 because I couldn’t afford the increase in my mom’s car insurance. My mom certainly couldn’t afford it either. That’s all right. I had my priorities and the driver’s license could wait.
When I did get my license, I drove old beater cars because that’s what I could afford. Would I have liked a nice new car? Or a tricked out souped up hot rod? You bet! But those were way out of my price range so I drove what I could get. As time went on I reached levels where I could purchase better transportation.
In 2003, I started a new job. After working there for 10 years, I was finally able to afford to purchase a home for my wife and I at the age of 44. We finally had a great house that was all ours. It had space so we didn’t feel cramped all the time, we were home, and there were no more landlords.
I’ve had to work hard and don’t get everything handed to me due to my white privilege.
I am white. At least that’s what I am referred to. I keep hearing that being white comes with privilege. Please let me know when that kicks in.