My Paternal Grandfather grew up in rural Missouri. He never went to school past 8th grade. He was a mechanic by trade, self-taught as all mechanics were back then. And I know at one point he owned his own garage in town, but it didn’t last long because he wasn’t a good businessman. My paternal grandmother never worked, never drove. She also never went to school past 8th grade. They were a blended family. My grandfather had been married before and had 5 kids from his previous marriage, and my grandmother had been married before with 2 kids from hers. Together they had 3 more kids.
My father grew up poor. Not modern poor, where kids have a TV, internet, video games and store-bought clothes, but traditional poor, where clothes are typically handmade or hand-me-down. He didn’t have running water in his home until he started junior high. They had bare wood floors, where if you lost a toy through a crack, it was pretty much gone forever.
My father learned to work on cars from his father. When my father needed money as a kid, he went out and got jobs at the local farms. He and my uncle would bail hay without gloves because they couldn’t afford gloves. They just grew calluses.
When my Father left home, he had nothing with him except a car that he paid cash for and worked on himself, and a bag of clothes. He came down to Houston to earn enough money to get married to his girl back home. At first, he made money by working on his friend’s cars. There was a period where he was homeless and crashing with friends, but eventually he got a solid job working in a garage. That was around the time he met and married my mom. Later he was able to get into working at a machine shop as a lathe operator, which is a skilled trade he would hold for the rest of his life. But he was never given any handouts. He inherited nothing from his father but a work ethic.
My maternal grandfather grew up very poor in south Texas. His father was a bigamist who went from town to town starting up new families and leaving them high and dry every few years. My grandfather sold chickens as a kid to help his mother get by. When he was 17, he joined the US Army out of necessity to survive and gave them 30 years. After that, he worked for the IRS for another 20 years, getting a 2nd retirement. Although he did very well for himself, my mother never benefited from any of it. She passed away almost 3 years ago, but he is today very healthy and doing well.
My maternal grandmother grew up extremely poor, too. They basically depended on the kindness of neighbors for flour and water in order to have anything to eat. She had dirt floors in her childhood home. She married my grandfather at the age of 15. 7 years later, he came home from an overseas assignment and was greeted at the door by another man who informed him that he no longer lived there, and his family was no longer his. My mother was 4 years old at the time.
With my grandfather being locked into his military career, my mother was raised by my grandmother. My grandmother would marry 3 more times. The guy that greeted my grandfather died from an allergic reaction, and the next guy was an alcoholic. Her final husband didn’t come along until my own father introduced them. I know that my grandmother had to work her whole life up until she got cancer, even with all her husbands working.
My mom grew up on a small farm where they grew most of their own food. When she left home, she also didn’t have anything. She got married at 17 and moved right in with her husband, who left her two years later with a 1 year old child to raise on her own. She met my father a year later, who then adopted my brother. They got married, I was born, and then they got divorced when I was two years old. She said he cheated, but I know that she moved right in with her boyfriend when they split.
My parents went their separate ways, each being very poor at the time. My father moved in with my aunt and my cousin for awhile. I don’t remember my mom ever living with a boyfriend, but my earliest memories are of each of them living in very low income and very diverse apartment complexes. I do know that they were each paying their own way though. I remember waking up at my mom’s place one time at the age of 6 to find out we had been robbed. All of our things were gone.
I remember that my mother worked the graveyard shift at the Anheiser Busch plant until she got married one more time to an alcoholic who lived in California. They split up when I was 10, and she moved back to Texas. She put herself through nursing school and she did pretty well for herself for a while. When I was 17 and living with my dad, one of her neighbors broke into her condo and raped her. She got Hepatitis C, which wrecked her liver. She became bedridden with her illness, which led to her becoming morbidly obese, which caused her to get diabetes, which destroyed her kidneys. She lost the few material things she had ever gained, and all I ever inherited from her when she passed away was a box of photo albums.
My dad got remarried when I was 5. I got two step sisters out of that deal. We moved out of the apartment complex and into a lower middleclass neighborhood. My uncle rented us a house he owned there. We lived there a few years, and then my Dad bought a house in slightly better middle-class neighborhood. It was very diverse as well. Our part of town had gangs and everything.
I left home my senior year of highschool, and it wasn’t under good circumstances. I had disagreements with my parents and decided that I no longer wanted to live under their roof. When I left home, all I had was a beater 1980 Ford van. My dad did buy this for me for about $400 cash, so I guess you can say that I had some amount of material gain from my upbringing. Though the van only lasted about a year, I think. Then I bought my own cash car.
When I left home, I was pretty much homeless, crashing with friends for a while, until a buddy and I got our own apartment. Then I got a girl pregnant, and I married her and joined the Army as the best means to provide. While I was away at my first duty assignment, she had some other man move in with her and had my son calling him dad. We divorced, and I married again. I used my GI bill to go to college. My next ex-wife cheated on me because I worked too much. We divorced, and I moved out with only the car I owned and a bag of clothes. I met and married an amazing woman, and we have been building a great life together ever since.
Neither of my parents ever gained anything from their parents, except a good work ethic and bad luck in love. I never gained anything from either of my parents except a good work ethic and bad luck in love. I grew up in the same neighborhoods and went to the same schools as a multitude of Black and Hispanic kids. After the Army, I worked in dirty warehouses alongside a multitude of Black and Hispanic men and women. Like my Father, I was able to eventually find a good skilled trade where I’ve worked myself up to a professional level, which allows me to provide for my family like his did for him.
I resent whenever anyone tells me that I have some sort of privilege given to me in life because of the color of my skin. I come from at least 2 generations of poverty and broken homes. And my family story is not unusual for white people. BLM supporters will tell you though, when you bring up facts like these, that the real privilege that we enjoy is not having to worry about whether or not our children will be murdered any time they go out.
So let’s look at what life is like for black kids growing up in black neighborhoods. Black children have a 25% chance of being abused by their parents. That is 1 in 4. Comparatively speaking the national average is 1 in 100.
60% of black girls will report sexual abuse before the age of 18, and for every one that reports her abuse, it is estimated that there are 15 who never report it. Most experts believe that black boys have an even higher rate of sexual abuse, but it is impossible to tell because it is seldom reported.
72% of black children are born into single family homes.
With an extraordinary rate of child physical and sexual abuse, and an obscene absence of black fathers, it is little wonder that when black children go off into the world to learn survival from other black children, who are themselves victims of physical and sexual abuse, that black mothers have come to live in such fear. But the thing that they fear does not mostly come from white people or even the police. In 2016, of 3,156 black murder victims, 81% of them were murdered by other black people.
All of these frightening statistics are things that black people have done to themselves. There is no systematic racism that has forced black people to do these things. So what then is this privilege that I have?
My parents did not savage me as I was growing up. They did not sexually abuse me or allow me to be sexually abused. And even though there were a lot of broken homes in my family history, even a few absent fathers, most of the fathers in my family stuck around, or other good men took up the responsibility. We were not raised to have a chip on our shoulders. We were not raised to think that the world owed us something. Our neighbors were not 100x more likely to murder us than anyone else.
If this is my privilege, then I will accept that I do in fact have “white” privilege. But I will never apologize for it. I will thank God every day for it.
Until BLM acknowledges these numbers, and makes calls for action to change these frightening statistics, I will not take them seriously. In fact, their mission statement says that they are explicitly against the black family unit and black fathers. This tells me that these professing communists are just like any communists. They do not want anything to actually get any better for the people that they claim to advocate for. They want broken black families in fatherless homes. They want rampant black child abuse and neglect. They want angry and hurting black people that they can stir up as political weapons.
Thank you for writing this.
Well written, thanks.
Wait, you can use gloves when baling hay? Anyway, I agree completely and have similar experiences personally and in family tree. Until I was 3, I thought water always came from a well. Not one of these fancy hand pump wells either–a hand-dug, stone-lined well that you had to drop a bucket into to get water. The africans on welfare (seen at school) always had better/newer clothes and other things.
Between the ages of 4-13 I was frequently hungry. For extra food my friends and I would crack off rhubarb stalks to chew on (so sour), find wild grapes and berries, or crack open tree nuts. Sometimes on Sundays we went to grandma’s house and got a good meat and potato meal and could eat as much as we wanted.
Treats and candy were very rare. I would collect what change I could from small jobs and occasionally ride my bike to the local 5 and dime. That place was great. They had a peanut roaster and the smell was heavenly. They had lots of toys to look at and candy to choose from. I was a loyal customer, but my enjoyment was frequently cut short by the employees giving me (and all kids) the stink eye.
I could never figure out why the stink eye until the day I met the first black kid in my life. She recently moved into some new apartments close by, and she had big pack of licorice and was passing them out to the other kids she met. I thought, wow how nice! After a while she told us that she had stolen the candy from the 5 and dime. She seemed quite proud of it. Suddenly I felt sick to my stomach and was totally appalled by the situation. I guess it was my white privilege making me feel bad for eating stolen candy.