Hi Donald, thank you for reading. I agree, more money will always equal more privilege.
My point is that being privileged does not equate being racist. And I think that’s why a lot of white people balk at being “accused” of having privilege. But also that not recognizing privileges you do have because your family also has a legacy of poverty oversimplifies the complexity of systemic privilege. Even Depression-era descendants of poor Catholics, like my family, still benefit from the privileges I list. I’m not scared all the time. No one assumes I’m a criminal or a drug addict or a number of other stereotypes minorities have to spend their private lives dispelling. I’m not disrespected by law enforcement or waitresses or store clerks. I’m not expected to offer nuanced insight into school shooters just because I am also white. But learning that these are the normal experiences of other people compels us to be compassionate about the past and the present while also committing to making the future better.
Half my family came from Ireland around that time too :) Which is kind of my point about the legacy of privilege. Despite the fact that they were far closer to destitute than privileged the system of privilege means that, even impoverished, white people were not enslaved, interned or relegated to reservations with no resources. Even though the “pink-backs” were doing the grueling, dangerous and underpaid labor of building the railroads with the Chinese they still weren’t considered the physical property other human beings owned.
The Irish in particular were able to establish themselves in this country, particularly in East Coast fire departments and police departments, despite being reviled “papists” in a very Protestant country and the prevalence of “No Irish Need Apply”. See also: How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev.
Sometimes my point is as simple as, “Here’s a thing that I didn’t know about.” But hopefully learning what life is like for other people will make me more compassionate and more capable of helping.