2017’s Latest Shtick: Bark at Others to “Check Their Privilege”
2017’s Latest Shtick: Bark at Others to “Check Their Privilege”
Because everyone’s doing it. (Mind the language in the video…NSFW.)
I came across an article yesterday discussing an upcoming essay contest in Westport, Connecticut. Yes, I said the affluent little town of Westport. Where 90% of the population is Caucasian, 0.84% is African American and 6% of the population is Asian. Westport. Where the median household income tops $150,000. Westport…the darling little suburb whose “diversity council” happens to think their high school teenagers would benefit to understand their white privilege by writing essays. I personally, can’t wait to get a load of some of these but will have to wait until the end of this month.
“As the nation faces historic social shifts relating to race and identity, young people will find themselves at the crossroads of a different America,” organizers wrote in a statement. “In order to increase awareness, foster understanding and promote understanding in this arena, TEAM Westport and The Westport Library are co-sponsoring the fourth annual Teen Diversity Essay Contest for students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 who attend Staples High School or another school in Westport, or reside in Westport and attend school elsewhere.”-Team Westport Website
TEAM Westport threw in some incentive for these poor wittle rich kids, too:
“Subject to the volume and caliber of entries received, at the discretion of the judges up to three prizes will be awarded. The first prize is $1,000, the second is $750, and the third prize is $500.”
That’s funny, right? So…$1,000 for self-esteem summer camp, $750 for a week in The Hamptons and $500 to put gas in the brand new Beamer Daddy bought “Buffy” for her 16th birthday? Why not teach these kids about their privilege? Like really teach these kids about privilege by having the first, second and third cash money prizes go towards say, helping an (immigrant) family in need? You know, someone not so privileged? Or perhaps, Westport parentals, take your kiddos into Bridgeport before writing the essay (because rich kids in Connecticut just loooove to make fun of Bridgeport but they wouldn’t dare go there)! I heard about that a lot in college.
All of this got me to thinking of how sick and tired I am of some people I know (and now their kids) talking to me about my privilege-especially wealthy white kids and their parents, political elites and academics. So I will say this. Why yes, I have privilege. Guess what? We’re alive…by the grace of God, we all do! But the constant preaching on privilege has gone haywire with associates, colleagues, friends, friends of friends and even family members barking at one another that we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. It’s maddening.
So to those of you who implore me to recognize my privilege, here it goes:
I’ve had the privilege of coming from hard-working immigrants who came here from Italy and the Czech Republic with nothing but the clothes on their backs. My great-grandmother from Sicily ran a fruit and vegetable stand. My great-grandparents from the Czech Republic moved to Pennsylvania where my great-grandfather worked in the coal mines. My grandmother (who was white) was a maid before marrying my grandfather who died in his easy chair when my mom was five years old. From that point on, my mom and her older brothers (who were teenagers at the time), took care of my grandmother. They lived on a drug-ridden block in East Harlem, New York and there were times where they needed to decide between transportation for the week to school and work or a loaf of bread and a carton of milk. My dad was “privileged” to finish school at fifteen. Actually, he quit. He was a casualty of gang violence in his high school in the 60s and it was either show up and run the risk of getting knifed or shot or stay the heck out of the danger zone.
I’ve had the privilege of coming from hard-working parents who wanted a better life for themselves and for me. My dad would occasionally take me through his rough old neighborhood in Harlem for pizza and Italian ices to show me where he came from. He told me stories of drug addiction and violence that claimed some of his friends (and even his own brother) as victims. My mom, however, was so privileged to work at a job she loved as a clothing merchandiser for a catalog. Towards the end of her career, she trained a (white) Harvard MBA for her position and was then subsequently canned (while the Harvard alum who replaced her made over three times her salary)! My dad continued to dig ditches for ConEd while some of these people who complain that I have not “checked my privilege” had parents who were white collar workers with the opportunities to attend college. They lived in houses in the wealthy Connecticut suburbs like Westport. I, too lived in the Connecticut suburbs…in the most craptastic apartment complex in the whole town. I was embarrassed to say where I lived. My parents did not have the privilege of owning a home until they were well into their 50s.
I’ve had the privilege of going to college and funding a good amount of it on my own…working 40 hours a week whilst watching a wealthy (white) Canadian-American citizen put his daughter up in a slum apartment (that she did not live in) in order to receive Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid that should only be offered to those with true financial hardships of which they had none.
I’ve had the privilege of working in a very male-dominated career field. I’ve experienced not being part of the good ol’ boy club and making far less than my male counterparts. I lived paycheck to paycheck while I watched some of my college buddies get funding and support from their parents well into their 30s. I’m not complaining. This made me work harder for things I wanted and appreciate them when I was finally able to afford them.
I’ve had the privilege of marrying into the military. Some think I bought into fascist brainwashing after I did but I will tell you this. I’ve had the privilege of raising our son on my own for 6 months during his first year of life (and a grand total of about 2 whole years counting all military deployments before he retired). As a preemie, my son had certain milestones he needed to reach developmentally. I sent my husband videos of his progress and his growth whilst he “vacationed” in GITMO. While some people (including our former President) complained about our “privilege” and the unfairness of the treatment of the GITMO detainees, terrorists, my husband and his fellow Marines were spat on and urinated upon by these very men.
I work hard, my husband works hard. We are teaching our son to work hard. And yes, we are all sons and daughters of immigrants. We all have rights and privileges.
Just because I’m not running around like you crazies and telling my other white friends to “check their privilege”, does not mean that I am “blind” to the new administration or a “bigoted racist”, as you say. I just think it’s downright hypocritical to do so. In fact, if you’ve given me a chance and talked to me instead of yelling in my face about how privileged, racist and spoiled I am or rejecting any opinions that are unlike your own, you may begin to understand my perspective. I don’t 100% agree with the way the immigration travel ban was rolled out. Just because I’m not openly “checking my privilege” and asking others to do the same does not mean that I’m ignorant or stupid or signal that I am approving in everything Donald Trump does as POTUS. It does not mean that I hate Muslims or any other immigrants from other cultural backgrounds. I realize the blessings and how fortunate my family and I have been over the years, through history really.
Take note: your jumping down people’s throats from a comfortable home you purchased or from the car you drive to a protest about how privileged people are and how they need to admit it is not helping. Your brutish insults do nothing to further your cause and only continue to drive the wedge of hateful rhetoric even further between us as Americans. Yes, I have privilege. I have a car, a home, clothes on my back and my family and I have worked hard and made sacrifices for it all and did not take it away from any one else. I see that you have the same but it’s funny that I don’t see you denouncing all of your worldly possessions (some that Mommy and Daddy worked hard for) and going to live in a backpackers’ hovel somewhere because of the “privileged guilt” you spew at every one else. Nope. You’re sitting behind your computer screen, reading the news and typing rants on Twitter and Facebook. The irony of it all? Your parents’ “privilege” (Ivy League education, higher salaries and opportunities that our parents could not even dream of) took away privileges of our parents which trickled down to kids like us who actually had to work hard, like most of the (frustrated) population to get where we are today. In the world I grew up in, privilege is earned. When we parent our kids, they earn privileges. Privilege is not just granted in most cases (unless you’re a spoiled little brat). Privilege in my world takes WORK; blood, sweat, tears and yes, often times sacrifice. You all have not sacrificed squat so, excuse me if I don’t buy into your “alternate facts”. Excuse me for not stepping aside.
Yes, I’m a privileged American. My ancestors have worked for it, I worked for it. And I checked it. And I did this for free. To the Westport “diversity team”, I say go ahead and give your money to smug little spoiled brats and see what you get out of ’em.