There has been a plethora of banter about “white privilege” over the last few years. This has reached a fever pitch with the rise of the so called Antifa movement and the deranged, racist writing of the New York Times editorial board member Sarah Jeong.
I have given this serious thought, given my station in life. I have arrived at the conclusion that YES, I am the product of “white privilege.”
I am privileged that my grandparents left poor mountain villages in southern Italy at the dawn of the last century.
I am privileged that they travelled, alone for the most part, in steerage class, with only a few hard-earned dollars in their pockets to the promise of “America.”
I am privileged that they found menial work as common laborers, ditch diggers, bridge painters and tunnel diggers to make their own way in this Promised Land.
I am privileged that they were called Guineas, Wops and Dago’s and paid less than other minorities, enduring these insults and prejudice, while building the infrastructure and fabric of “America.”
I am privileged that my grandmother nursed the babies of other immigrant “paisani” in her building so their mothers could go to work in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan.
I am privileged that my grandfather served honorably in World War I.
I am privileged that my grandparents never took a dime of public assistance during the Great Depression, preferring to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
I am privileged that my paternal grandfather built his home in Westchester County with his own hands and with the help of his paisani, replete with 18 inch masonry walls, because he was forcibly displaced by “urban renewal” – the destruction of working class ethnic neighborhoods in the Bronx for the construction of “The Projects,” a breeding ground for crime, drug abuse and generations of welfare families.
I am privileged that my maternal grandfather scrimped and saved and started his own butcher business while raising his three daughters so they would know no hardships while he endured his own.
I am privileged that my mother worked piece-work in a factory to have spending money.
I am privileged that my Uncle Marty came home from the South Pacific with shrapnel in his knee and played competitive racquetball until his mid-80’s.
I am privileged that my father was drafted at 18 years of age and survived five amphibious landing in World War II – North Africa, Persia, Southern France, Sicily and being pinned down at Anzio.
I am privileged that he returned home in one piece, gave up his electrical school training and went to work as a butcher for his future father-in-law.
I am privileged that he worked six days a week to provide a better life for his family.
I am privileged that my parents stayed married for 67 years, providing us with a wonderful example.
I am privileged that he worked hard to send my brother and I to good schools to get an education, supporting us every step of the way.
I was privileged to have this hard working, never complaining man until he was almost 92 years old – and still working!
I am privileged that my mother, at 91 years of age, still works six days per week so she, “doesn’t stay home, watch TV and get stupid like so many other people.”
Yes, I am the product of white privilege; of hard working, God fearing people, who worked exceedingly hard to reap the bounty of this beautiful experiment called “America.”