I was 14 when I began my work career and registered for my social security card. The year was 1965 and my family lived in Woodstock, Georgia. My younger brother was 13, and did likewise. This was before child labor laws changed, or heck, maybe not, as like I said, we loved in rural Georgia.
We were grocery sackers and worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for 3 five dollar bills. My Mom took one 5 from each of us every payday as room and board and this taught us there was no free ride in life. It was a valuable lesson that I’ve written about before and only a reference point.
The summer between the 10th and 11th grade, I lied about my age and said I was 16 and had a driver’s license and hired on with my friend with a subsidiary of the Georgia Power Company, as ground men. We were making about a buck an hour if I remember rightly and that was a lot of cash. I had no idea what a ground man was, but quickly learned anywhere the backhoe couldn’t dig, we could with shovels. It was back-breaking hard work tunneling through that Georgia red clay in the same kind of weather we experience here.
My Dad had taken a job in St. Louis and we moved quite suddenly and I became a clerk at a milk and bread drive thru, called a Pop-In store. Along the way, I bought and paid for my first car (at 15), 4 new tires, rebuilt the two one-barrel carburetors, a 10-speed bike, a stereo, and my first television.
I cannot recall anyone helping me out along the way as a sponsor or a mentor. I worked and scraped for everything I got. It was the way it was. Many of my friends did not work and they only had what their parents provided. I wanted more and I went in the Air Force, rather than risk being drafted and upon exit after 2 tours in Southeast Asia, I got a job through interviews based on my work career and skills I had learned and have worked non-stop until retirement 2 years ago. The worldly goods I own were earned along the way through constant work and paydays.
A number of times I worked side jobs to make ends meet, or to have extra cash and again, I didn’t have a single soul hand me anything without working for it and this is why I think, in my case, white privilege has been a myth, a lie, and some politically correct fallacy that needs to be exposed for what it is – an excuse.
White privilege went out with the OJ Simpson verdict and Affirmative action and many of us qualified folks witnessed this, as we were pushed back behind less qualified applicants and if that isn’t discrimination, I am a monkey’s uncle. Dare I write it? Dang tootin’, I will. When all across this country, minorities fill top government offices including Fire Marshal and Police Chief positions, white privilege is non-existent. The demographics prove it.
As a person who worked up the ladder unassisted by the system, I refuse to take the tuck head due to the color of my skin. Some reading this will shake their head, thinking I have it so wrong, but I only know what I’ve witnessed over the last 60 years or so. Sure there have been injustices, but there has been reoccurring behavior which perpetuates the negative responses. “Doc, it hurts when I do this!” “Well, stop doing it!”
No, I don’t buy the politically correct brain-washing agenda many white people are accepting as fact. It also embarrasses me when they teach their kids this falsehood. In the words of the urbanites, I want them to “grow a pair” and quit making excuses for people who refuse to step up their game and get off the government dime. It is never too late to become a contributor to society, but you may have to start near the bottom sacking groceries.