Last night we ran into one of our old neighbors. We have known her family for the entire time we lived in our home (14 years) so I have known this woman since she was in middle school and have seen her grow up. She got pregnant when she was 20 years old and while I was also pregnant with my second child, Dex. We talked for a couple of minutes and then she went on her way.
As I saw her walking away from us last night hand in hand with her 7 year old, it made me realize that we all want the best for our kids. We all want them to be happy and successful in their own way. But due to the cycle of poverty we have watched her family endure, it will be much harder for her son to be successful than it will be for Dex.
Dex won’t have to try very hard, he has been given so many more things whether it is two parents with two incomes that have college educations or multiple family members to rely on if anything happened to us. Even if Dex doesn’t try hard, he will still go to college and get a good job. Because her little boy was born into a cycle of poverty that she is working hard to get out of, her son won’t have an easy life when it comes to money. I know money isn’t everything, but if you grow up with generations of wealth in your past (even if it isn’t a lot of wealth as is our case) things are going to be easier for you. And when you grow up with generations of poverty preceding you, you don’t have anything to fall back on. I am proud of the woman my former neighbor has become because she has worked her ass off to provide a better life for her son. White privilege is acknowledging that many of us white people come from generations of wealth and if we ran into an issue, nothing can really knock us down. If my old neighbor gets a flat tire and misses work one day, she could get fired. White privilege is knowing that my old neighbor doesn’t deserve to have a hard life anymore than I deserve not to. White privilege is helping lift those people we see that might be down because we were given a hand out for hundreds of years. It was really random to run into her, but seeing her reminded me to be looking out for ways to use what I have to help someone, maybe her, that hasn’t had the same advantages I have had.