An open letter to the White Privilege Conference 2014 attendees;
I’m in a state of shock right now. According to your conference, the accomplishments of my family going back generations simply do not exist. Allow me to explain. You see I am black. Your conference contends that this country was built on racism; you contend that a pernicious evil is the foundation of every institution and permeates every aspect of American life. According to you – to the degree that your conference completely negates my very existence.
My great grandfather would definitely disagree with your ideas. He grew up poor in the south, but he had both parents and was taught a work ethic that carried him into adulthood, marriage and service as an enlisted man in the US Army. His son, my Grandfather, went to high school, got married and went on to serve in the Army doing a tour in the Korean conflict. He returned home and attended Tuskegee University and became a teacher. His first child is my father, who also enlisted, fought in Vietnam and married my mother having me and then my sister. My dad went on to serve 26 years retiring honorably having traveled the world in service to this nation alongside the very white Christian men, you claim have oppressed him. He would disagree with you on that.
My great grandfather was a homeowner as was my granddad and my father. My grandfather was a deacon, and served on committees in his town, rising to a position of leadership in his community of largely white people in the Deep South.
My mother and her family members have similar stories of hard work and success, she grew up picking cotton and now has a double masters degree and a management job placing her firmly in the upper middle class.
Their story, my history, is rooted in the years of segregation in Jim Crow south. The stories that I have pried from my father about his childhood sting me to this day. Yet even that knowledge flies in the face of your cretinous attempt to cheapen the lives of millions of black Americans, striving to succeed and doing so. Your conference insults the truth of millions of white Americans who have never been the recipients of any largess and still struggle to achieve the American Dream.
I refuse to be cheapened by your poorly formed malicious ideology. The Age of Enlightenment was about just that; the idea that as an individual, I can reach for the stars and control my own destiny. Racism has no impact on that, because excellence goes before an individual paving the way to their goals.
I have experienced the fruit of my own failures, successes and not so stellar attempts and achieved excellence. I have many goals before me that I hope to reach through hard work and sacrifice. No amount of “white privilege” will ever stop me.