Let Me Tell You about My White Privilege

Individuals within every group are guilty of making every person within a specific demographic or category the same. E.g., all whites are the same. All blacks are the same. All right is alt-right and all left is alt-left. It just is not true.

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There are some black people that I would associate with before I would associate with some white folks. And there are some folks on the left that I like listening to while there are some in the right camp that embarrasses me.

When we clump every person within a demographic as the same, those who are not like that are not just insulted, but it tempts them to fire back with an unsavory insult, which is not the right response.

I know there is white privilege. I’ve seen it. I also know there is a black privilege. But either way, it does not mean all whites are identical, or all blacks are identical. It is wrong to deny that our “privileges” exists and it’s wrong to label everyone within a category as the same. Let me share with you my personal experience with white privilege.

  1. My father was a violent, racist, drunk abuser who died at 42-years old.
  2. My mother slept around with more men than I know.
  3. My dad spent all the money he made, when he was working, on alcohol.
  4. My parents bought the groceries with government assistance (food stamps).
  5. My parents left us five boys to rear ourselves. Literally.
  6. With no moral compass, we began fighting, stealing, and doing drugs before we were 10-years old.
  7. The good white folks had nothing to do with us, other than making sure they kept themselves from us.
  8. I started working as a busboy when I was 12-years old, making $1.12 1/2 per hour. I’ve been working since that time, nearly a half century.
  9. When I was not busing tables, I hauled hay during the summer, which meant running alongside a trailer in 95-degree heat, throwing bales onto the trailer.
  10. At fifteen, I left home for good.
  11. At sixteen I got a real job at a burger joint.
  12. Many of our teachers, black and white, labeled me as incorrigible rather than helping me.
  13. My seventh-grade teacher said that I had the grades to get into the honor society, but because of my behavior, they would not let me join.
  14. My high school principal said that I was a “Thomas! And I would never amount to anything. I was nothing but trash.”
  15. My high school “career teacher” said that since my “trial interview” was the same as a black student, they were going to give it to the black student because she was black.
  16. The police arrested me when I was 15-years old for breaking-and-entering. It was five days in jail and two years probation.
  17. My first three brothers never graduated high school. The first two went to prison, and the third one joined the military.
  18. After someone murdered my first brother, the law enforcement community did nothing, though they knew who killed him. They said it was one less criminal for them to deal with, so they let it go.
  19. After someone murdered my second brother, they let the murderer off with community service.
  20. Without a moral compass, I married at 19, which was a mistake. I went through a horrible divorce at twenty-eight.

  21. I worked full-time (45 hours a week) while I went to college full time. I was twenty-five years old.
  22. I graduated at twenty-nine with a Theology degree.
  23. I went another year to get an Education degree.
  24. At forty, I received a Master’s in Counseling.
  25. I started this business when I was 49-years old.

I suspect if someone told you that I was black before you read the first twenty things on that list, afterward you would say, “Yeah, that’s about right. I can see all that happening.” But I’m not black. I’m a middle-aged, pasty white male from the southern part of the United States.

There are many more things that I could add to the list, but you get the point; there has never been any privilege, white or otherwise, sent my way. By the grace of God and a lot of hard work, I am what I am. Please don’t read this as me being mad or an attempt to manipulate pity from you.

My point is that every black person is not like you think. Every gay person is not an angry radical. Every liberal does not throw civility to the wind. And there are a lot of us white boys who “don’t know nothing” about privilege.

Before you succumb to the temptation of ranting about a people group, slow down a bit and pace yourself. Don’t speak in absolutes or make blanket statements. And by all means, don’t think that because they are yelling the loudest that they represent everyone in their group.

There are others in their tribe who wish they did not talk so loud. Just because someone is not like you, it does not mean that they are like them either.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20

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