Notion of ‘privilege’ does nothing to help those who struggle

White Privilege.

Where was it when my single mother trying to feed her four children got the windows of her car shot out as she crossed picket lines to work the night shift grading lumber in a sawmill full of men? Or when I had to stay home from school at eleven years old to care for my younger siblings.

And was the Chinese restaurant owner who gave me my first job at 15 extending me white privilege, and if so, who should feel guilty me or him? Neither.

And was it white privilege that had me working two jobs at seventeen?

And what about the roughly 10 percent of whites who live in poverty? Did white privilege somehow forget to include them?

And by the same logic is there black privilege in certain professional sports, or Asian privilege in certain industries? And if so, shouldn’t we have affirmative action stepping in to make the numbers more inclusive and fair? No. If other races want to be better represented they will find a way to compete. Government programs and laws are not the answer. They offer counterfeit, unsustainable solutions.

There is no such thing as a fair shake. There is only work. And perseverance. In the past five years we have made victims out of women, minorities, the poor, those of certain sexual orientations, and the list goes on. I have never felt like a victim, and I’ll speak for my mother in saying that she didn’t either. The victim mindset begets nothing but entitlement. I became the first person in my family to ever obtain a college degree and it didn’t come as a result of white privilege. The very term is insulting. Trace any fortunate person’s history back far enough and you will find someone (or several somebodies) who sacrificed and persevered to better their life and the lives of their descendants. Few things irk me more than the stigma many people apply to inherited wealth. As though it came from nowhere and sustained itself. I pray that the sacrifices my husband and I have made benefit our children and grandchildren.

White privilege. It casts too broad a net, catching up things that do not belong and offering a ready excuse for those looking. To some extent we should all feel obligated to helping out our neighbor, but that neighbor should never feel entitled to our help. That is the mindset we are fostering and it will do nothing to lift struggling people.

Brandy Garton