*A PSA before the post: I’m at Denver comicon all day today and certainly tomorrow. If you’re out there, come see me at the Wordfire booth -Sarah *
I AM PRIVILEGED – Sanford Begley
I am privileged. This is true, but not in the way the left thinks. The other day I disagreed on social media with a woman about another program to take from workers and give to parasites. She said that she had been middle class and was now poor and I couldn’t understand because I am privileged. I thought about it and replied that she was right. That answer is the seed of this post. Many of you are even more privileged than I, but I’m going to tell about my privilege now.
I was born in Appalachia in the middle of the twentieth century. Well it was the middle of the twentieth everywhere else, in most of Appalachia it was still somewhere between the nineteenth century and the mid twentieth. Many places were still using “coal oil” lanterns and indoor plumbing was rare. I was an adult before living in a house that had an indoor toilet. Central heat was a coal fired stove in the middle of the living room and a wood stove in the kitchen. Being the first one up in zero weather was an adventure. Could you start a fire before the cold started to hurt?
Many people I knew, much of my family in fact, lived in what were known as tar-paper shacks. This was a wood frame covered with the tar paper used by roofers for waterproofing. I believe I was privileged enough that I never lived in one myself. I’m not sure, we followed the jobs and work was hard to come by then.
I remember one of my aunts lording it over the rest of the family because she married a farmer who had a pump in the kitchen, right on the sink. The rest of us carried buckets from an outside well or a spring. I remember being impressed, it had such shiny red paint.
For these reasons I had a privileged childhood. I worked like the rest of the family and we were mostly comfortable with what we had, that is privilege. More importantly I am intimately aware of what real poverty is. Not the wealth that they try to claim is poverty today. I know what real poverty and hunger is. I am privileged!
I was transplanted from Appalachia to southern OH when it was time to start first grade. Naturally I spoke with a hillbilly accent, though I didn’t know it. And just as naturally my teacher and most of the school administrators despised me for it. You see, hillbillies were the lowest of the low in the early sixties. Stupid, lazy, and thieves the lot of us. Had someone called a “Colored” student anything bad they might have been censured for racism. Not so those worthless hillbilly trash. I note that with the exception that “colored person” is not acceptable, that has not changed. I am privileged!
I also am privileged to come from a broken home in the days when it was a disgrace for a woman to be a divorcee. The only time I saw my father as a child, I was 18 months old and he was in jail. I have no idea what he was in jail for, nor do I have any memories of the event. That is privilege. I don’t hold it against my father by the way, I know there were controlling vindictive people in his family and my mother’s who wanted to break both of them. I got that kind of privilege too, the one where you cannot trust your family because the less sane ones ran things.
I was raised by my mother and my step-father. He is a different kind of man in many ways. He did teach me one thing that I will forever love and honor him for. He taught me that love and family is who cares for you, blood be damned. That is a real privilege.
As a hillbilly who had hearing problems due to experimental medicine that saved my life, I never lost the accent, though it mellowed to southern instead of pure hillbilly by adulthood. This meant that I always stood out, not in a good way, among my classmates. I was also better able to learn, remember and test on that knowledge than most among my age group. So much more that I was an outcast in school. I was bullied by the best. So I am privileged to know that a few taunts online don’t qualify as bullying. Bullying involves bruises at the least.
I was from a family of working poor. Thing is, they refused to remain poor. On working class single earner wages my family bought land and built a modern home by the time I graduated from school. There was no one in my family that knew about High School graduation before me, how to enter college, let alone pay for it was a mystery we had no clue about. All the news said was that there would be no financial aid for me and so, with the guidance counselors in my school being those who went into education to avoid the VietNam war I had no clue how to go to college. This was also a privilege
With no other way of paying for school I fell back on the poor man’s hope. I enlisted in the army. My time of service was technically VietNam era, though there was never a chance of my going to Southeast Asia. I did get the privilege of not wearing my uniform when on leave because there were plenty of those who thought all soldiers were myrmidons and it simply wasn’t wise to antagonize them. After all, we know what happens to a G.I. who causes trouble in the civilian world. Things have changed, though they seem to be heading back that way.
While in the army I had the privilege of being told that I had too many advantages so women and minorities got first choice of jobs and promotions, whether they qualified or not. That is white privilege as I understand it. After getting out I was told I was not qualified for any veterans groups because I didn’t serve in a time where it was important. I am privileged!
So with all this I still managed to climb almost to the bottom rung of middle class. I have found love, friendship, and a voice in the world. Damn right I’m privileged! Hardship makes you stronger.