Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

White Privilege

All the talk about white privilege has made me reflect and realize I am guilty of white privilege.  And I bet others who reflect upon this story might discover they may have black privilege, yellow privilege, brown privilege, or red privilege.  In the beginning, God created man and thus began human privilege – the gift of life created in the image of God.

My grandfather ran a small grocery store in the front of his home – in little Belgium Town USA (Mishawaka, Indiana).  He and my grandma were immigrants through Ellis Island before 1900 as children under the age of six.  During World War II he and my grandma supported local families so the less fortunate had food to eat. White privilege started before I was born. When the war was over and the main chain stores sprang up his community no longer supported his store and many never paid him back – he didn’t get a bailout and yet managed to survive and build my white privilege.

My mother’s brother, Uncle Butch served in the Army during World War II. He was a tank driver and three of his tanks were destroyed and in each case his partner was killed. Uncle Butch wasn’t satisfied with his 3 purple hearts and white privilege, so he asked for a transfer behind enemy lines to do reconnaissance. My uncle Butch was there when they freed the prisoners from the NAZI War camps. Now that’s white privilege.

My mother’s family has Angel Saxon ancestry and they gave the world the concept of “Self Governance” which our founding fathers used to establish the greatest nation on earth. Wow more white privilege.

My dad worked for Studebaker’s for 24 years. Studebakers moved to Canada and my dad lost his job and 24 years of paying into his pension. He found himself with hard choices. He received no government assistance.

As a boy I got a paper route and delivered papers every day. Sunday’s paper was so big I had to use my wagon so I could pull those papers around as I delivered them early in the morning on Sunday’s. My dad taught to me save some of what I earned. Thanks dad for the white privilege. Yea I had to collect .35 cents a week and pay for the papers myself. What was left over was may pay. $5 – $7 bucks a week and I learned a lot of lessons from that paper route. Another example of white privilege. Imagine pulling a wagon in a foot of snow – wheres my sled?.

When it came time for me to go to college my father was still struggling in his new occupation and my mom had to go to work. Thank God I had saved from my paper route. I paid for my own college education. White privilege thank you.

During the early days of the HIV/AIDS crises I traveled weekly to the bowls of Atlanta to assist with feeding card carrying AIDS victims. 90+% of them were men and most were gay. They were more afraid of me that I was them which I didn’t understand at first. I was healthy and their immune system was not. A small cold was nothing for me but could cost them their life. I learned more during those days than I wanted. But now I know God was preparing me for today’s world of tolerance. Yes it was the white privilege I got from my family that took me there.

What I didn’t realize during my visits to the bowls of Atlanta is that I was listening to what scripture calls the groans that come from the earth crying out for completion.  The foundation was being laid for the march to seek the acceptance of gay marriage.  People who loved one another were seeking the spousal rights to make decisions regarding health care and property inheritance.  With great sadness a new groan is growing and coming forth from children who instinctively know they are supposed to have a mother (female) and father (male) who love them.  An increasing number of children are being left out of the marriage issue at an alarming rate.  The created one flesh plan for the well being of children is being sacrificed at an altar of a pagan gods ideal of compassion for those who cannot create children.

My dad got Parkinson’s in the last years of his life. I think God wanted me to taste helplessness and teach me more about the sacredness of life. My dad went 11 days without eating and then on the 11th day wanted to know if I was hungry! My dad died penny-less – yes I come from white privilege. I think God wanted me to be able to see that even when one is stripped of every human dignity they cannot be stripped of the spirit God gives each child the moment we are conceived.

Today I go to a State Prison. It is full of young men who have not experienced the white privilege my family and life gave me. I ask myself why are all these men of color coming to listen to an old white man who speaks about the power of hope that lives and exists within the spirit God which was placed in them before they were born? Many young angry men who can not articulate the are angry because they have been abandoned by a society which has turned it’s back on traditional marriage.  Yet me and my white privilege were sent to prison to teach things are hopeless even behind bars.  Angry young men without fathers can come to understand they have the potential to become fathers to those who will surely follow them into prison and give them hope as well.  That’s what the gift of life (white, black, brown, yellow, red)  privilege has taught me.