As the war on white privilege seems to be going from insane to dangerously insane, I cannot help but cast my mind back to my white privilege as a child growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in rural New Zealand. We were not a poor white family: my Dad had a job and we had a comfortable and clean home.
Our household probably didn’t receive much more income than our neighbours but there was a fundamental difference between me and the neighbours kids – my parents didn’t smoke, drink or gamble. I knew kids who had their Dad bring home his paypacket, head off to the pub for the ” 6 o’clock swill ” ( Kiwi term for the fact that pubs closed at 6 pm ) over to the betting shop and into the tobacconist for some roll your own tobacco or cigarettes. And then return home and the kids would go hungry unless my mother fed them.
My Dad didn’t do that. He came home with pay packet intact and played with us in the backyard or read us a story.
My white privilege was the fact that I was born in to a warm family relationship and that has served me well throughout my life.
I had Maori friends, Indian friends, Chinese friends ( it was a small market gardening community ) who likewise enjoyed warm family relationships. While not well off in today’s scheme of things, we were rich beyond measure.
If we take away the word ” white ” from white privilege, there are many of you folk reading this today who apparently ” suffered ” from privilege. The privilege of having a warm and loving family unit in which to grow and prosper – not necessarily in financial terms but in those terms that truly matter.
Privilege is not about money. It is not about the colour of your skin. It is the culture into which you are born and that in which you grow and are encouraged to be the best person you can be.
As I wrote in an earlier article, when I was a kid, one of my favourite books was “ Washday at the Pa”.
When the book was banned, back in 1964, the same year it was published, I was shocked. I was a young kid who did not see the book as anything other than a happy book with happy people living in warm and caring family.
As the author said:
“The booklet was never meant to portray a typical Maori family. It is just a story of a happy family living in the country. It shows the warmth of family relationships”
As a child, I caught that message, because my weekly wash is a day that I still approach with happiness, not as a chore.
I was reading a thread on twitter today about white privilege. One comment I read struck me:
“White privilege” is meant to incite. It’s really about anger and gratitude. Some people are perpetually angry and ungrateful, while others are hardworking, humble & grateful. ”
Look at someone like Dr Ben Carson. A proud black man, brought up by his mother in a kind and loving family – look at what this man has achieved! Look at Colin Kapearnick – a black man brought up in a kind and loving family who happened to be white and he turns out a miserable and ungrateful hater full of venom for those who love him… something is wrong isn’t there?
This current hatred has NOTHING to do with white privilege, any more than it did back in rural New Zealand in the 1960’s.
There are many white people, black people, people from ethnic minorities who have thrived and triumphed in less than ideal financial envrionments. They have thrived and prospered because they were brought up in a close family surrounded by love and they were happy with what they had.
Yes, they strived for more, and that determination and moral fortitude was born out of a faith in themselves that was fostered by the home that they grew up in.
Not the quality of the food on the table, the expense of the toys on the floor or the label on their shoes or clothing.
No. White Privilege is a myth. Just as Black Subservience is a myth.
The only ” Privilege ” that matters in today’s screwed up and hate-filled world is the privilege of a solid and caring Family unit.
And it seems to me that the vast majority of the haters, looters, rioters, protesters, cop hating, statue destroying and insane lunatics currently trying to destroy our countries have in common is: ( and yes, that could be the longest sentence I have ever written )
THEY HATE THEMSELVES.
And they hate us because we do not suffer from their deranged self-loathing. How I pity them.
But not sufficiently to feel guilty for being brought up with love and care. That is THEIR problem.
Let’s not make it ours.