Friday, March 24, 2023

White Privilege

Image by 1820796 from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  


Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture." -Peggy McIntosh 

Dear Stickies and Gentlereaders,

Not long ago, on yet another cold, damp, overcast winter morning in Northern Ohio, I awoke and like most men of a certain age hastily headed for the bathroom. 

Opening the door of my warm, cozy bedroom, I grabbed my cane and stepped out into the chilly hallway which resulted in the usual mild shock, the result of going from 72 humidified degrees to 66 un-humidified ones. 

I'm one of those old geezers that get up early, very early in my case, and a programmable thermostat will not nudge the furnace to raise the temperature of the rest of Casa de Chaos to a luxurious 68 till 6 a.m., a half an hour or so before Stickies start appearing if it's a school day. 

Self-indulgent, planet-destroying, privileged persons of pallor that we are, the temperature will remain at a balmy 68 till 11 p.m. before dropping back to 66 again. 

I was in too much of a hurry to put on my slippers and the tiled bathroom floor made me feel like I was crossing the frozen tundra. I was reminded that I didn't live in a house with central heating till I was 13 and felt grateful for the enormous, inefficient, outdated furnace in the basement.

Next, I returned to my room and checked on my countertop humidifier. It consumes both water and electricity but helps to prevent rubbing/scratching my dry skin raw in my sleep. 

I then checked on and tweaked the oil-filled space heater strategically placed in front of the room's only heating duct so it doesn't use as much electricity (the furnace helps keep the oil warm) because the room temperature had jumped to 73.

I've turned into one of those old farts that always feels cold in the wintertime but I'm stuck north of the Mason-Dixon line. I put my slippers on and sought out the services of the Keurig machine in the kitchen. 

K-cups were ridiculously overpriced before our current transitory inflation problem so I placed 3 or 4 tablespoons of Cafe Bustelo (the price of which has temporarily risen by a buck a can even at Dollar General) in a washable/reusable K-container and made myself the first of the two cups of coffee I'll drink today.  

I returned to my room and started my day with a current events/email check via my low-end Chromebox (a variation of a Chromebook), my virtual window on the world. It also serves as my Kindle, stereo, word processor, and TV. I use my phone as a phone. 

I wrote for about an hour and then pulled up the free Google Docs spreadsheet I use to keep track of my money titled Robbing Peter, Paying Paul and commenced doing just that. Despite having worked full-time, including many 6 and 7-day weeks for 45 years, my fixed income is rather modest. To paraphrase a rhyme my daughter used to sing-song when she was a kid:

Poor old Poppa,
Sittin' on a fence, 
Tryin' to make a dollar 
Out of 15 cents.

Speaking of my daughter, she popped in to say hey for a minute before trudging upstairs to bed, exhausted from being up all night baking at the bakery she works at. I wondered if my son-in-law made it home by midnight or worked late because overtime was available. 

The following question then popped into my head. I wonder where the phrase white privilege came from? I went a-googlin'. 

An English teacher/feminist/anti-racism activist/women's studies scholar is credited with popularizing the phrase in question. Dr. Peggy McIntosh received a Ph.D. from Harvard "where she wrote her dissertation on Emily Dickenson's Poems About Pain."

In 1988 Ms. McIntosh also wrote a (famous in certain circles) essay titled, WHITE PRIVILEGE AND MALE PRIVILEGE: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies.

An essay, proudly based on the professor's "lived experience," which was/is somewhat different than the lived experience of me, mine, and probably yours has nevertheless impacted our lives. 

Wikipedia: "This work has been included in many K-12 and higher education course materials, and has been cited as an influence for later social justice commentators."

For your edification, here's the long version, here's a much shorter one


Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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