Liberals believe that just because I’m white and have been moderately successful it’s because of my “white privilege”. So let me set the record straight. This is my story of “white privilege”.
I was born on a military base, the first son of a career enlisted soldier and an Austrian “war bride”. No silver spoon for this boy. I remember a regular diet of horse meat because it was cheap, and potatoes, because they were plentiful. By example, my parents taught me to be frugal, to work hard and to save money. They worked hard and scrimped and saved enough to buy a modest house when my father retired from the Army. By that time I was in high school. That’s when I got my first job at age 16. Amazingly I didn’t start at the top with a car, stock options and expense account. It was menial work. I rode my bike to work. Conditions probably wouldn’t meet OHSA standards today. Minimum wage- forget about it. And when not studying or working at my “regular” job I mowed lawns and shoveled snow.
As I worked, I saved because I wanted to go to college. No loans or grants from the government. No private school with fraternity brothers for me. No checks from mom and dad, although they did let me live at home in exchange for doing chores and paying a modest rent. I worked my way through college. I earned enough money to buy a car that might have done 55MPH downhill with a tail wind but it was enough to get me to and from school. I continued to save when I could and be miserly with my spending when necessary.
While at college I joined the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). If you want to enjoy “privilege” try walking through a State University campus in a military uniform during an unpopular war.
I met my wife while in college. She went to work right after high school and was living at home. Her father was a railroader and her mother “baby-sat”. This being before the days of government controlled day care. Marrying in to wealth wasn’t to be. We wanted to get married but we opted to wait until I was done with school and my military obligation.
When we did marry, my school was paid for, I owned a pickup that looked like it had been beat with a sledge hammer and I owed the bank $00.01 when they closed my account. We bought a house using the money my wife saved for a down payment and my job prospects. My first job in the private sector was not what I expected. There was a recession. Jobs in my field for inexperienced folks just weren’t there. As one employer told me “I can hire a person with ten years of experience or someone with little experience for the same salary. Which would you choose?” So I took what I could get to keep the house and pay the bills. As things got better I steadily improved my job positions and income; relocating, working and saving all the way.
Eventually we had two boys. More bills, more responsibility and more work. Then there was an opportunity. It would require a leap of faith and moving halfway around the world. I got a job offer from the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO). It was good money and decent benefits. I could either go alone or take my young family with me. Or I could pass. We decided the risk was worth the benefits and we all moved to Saudi Arabia just as Iran and Iraq had their war next door. The money was good and the high life was enticing but we continued to live modestly, saved and invested our money. We could still be there but as the boys were reaching school age we opted to return to the USA.
After two years of watching management screw-ups I decide that, using some of our savings, I would start my own business. I never worked harder for a more demanding boss in my life. At the same time my wife was getting her nursing degree and the boys were in those wonderful teen years. I can’t recall sleeping more than five hours a night during that period. The business was a modest success and it brought an offer to join another company. I took the offer but kept my business on a slow simmer just in case- for ten years.
By the time I retired in my mid-sixties, my wife had also retired; the boys were husbands and fathers, the house was paid for and we were debt free. Now the money we worked so hard for is working to support us in our golden years.
I’ve had the privilege of coming from a family of modest means.
I’ve had the privilege of being ridiculed and spit upon.
I’ve had the privilege of taking work that was beneath my education and experience.
I’ve had the privilege of living on a budget, worrying about how we were going to pay bills.
I’ve had the privilege of growing up without smart phones, the internet and social media.
I’ve had the privilege of working 50-60 hours a week for everything I own.
If privilege means working hard, making (mostly) right decisions, taking calculated risks, saving and investing wisely then by God I am privileged. I worked hard and sacrificed for that privilege and no latte sipping pajama boy or screaming bitch is going to take it from me. It’s mine and I own it.