For many decades, my awareness of the position of privilege I was born into has been growing. The awareness has accelerated over time.
When I was young, I was blissfully unaware of the struggles my mother faced while raising my brother and me. As a typical child, I rarely thought of anything other than what I had and what I wanted. When I was ten, I began to recognize differences. Richer, poorer. Healthy, afflicted. Straight or spoken of in hushed tones.
The mid-western town I grew up in was pretty damned white. I had some exposure to the Mexican culture after a widowed Grandma remarried. I never embraced her husband as a grandpa, even though another Grandmother remarried and her husband was Grandpa in my heart. Did Grandpa have privilege in my heart because he was white? Because he spoke the same dialect? I question it now, though I know that it was more so because he treated me with love and respect, doted in us, he never swore at me, was always sober. While the Mexican step-grand cussed, ordered, complained about being sought after for child support from his ex who became pregnant when she cheated on him while he was in prison, and who had a son of his own who was in prison as well.
Might I have felt differently about him if he had been given the opportunities for work end education that could have spared him from drug abuse and crime? Or is an *ssh*le, simply an *aah*le and we can leave it at that? He overcame shooting up, but never gave up the drink, even while working in the recovery field himself. He was not an ethical man, and yet he was a devoted husband to my Grandma.
How much does one overlook in retrospect, because of the other’s lack of early privilege. I used to think it was a simple case of we can all choose to be honest and ethical people. Now those lines are a
bit very blurred, and I’m uneasy with that. It is NOT as black and white simple as a matter of willpower .
I like the privilege analogy in this video: