It’s a Privilege

Our grandfather was a roofer

and he spent his whole life busting his ass

to provide for his working class children

and then his working class grandchildren

and then, when he was 68 years old

he was repairing a chimney

a couple stories up,

finishing up work late on a Friday

still busting his ass at almost 70

because there were still bills to pay

but, late in the day

the chimney fell to the earth

and so did he

and he spent the next month

in a medical induced coma

and then he died

and we cried.


For a long time, because of this

and other reasons

it was hard for my brother to see

the reality of white privilege

and it’s difficult for a lot of folks

to see their privilege

when they’re surrounded by alcoholism

and addiction

and health issues

and poverty

and what seems to be

quite the opposite of privilege

but the simplified version

that I told my brother years ago,

the example that I gave him was this:

When our grandfather fell off the roof

and the homeowner called 911

and the police arrived

and the paramedics arrived

they delicately loaded our grandfather

into the back of the ambulance

and raced him to the hospital

at least giving him a chance.

But his ancestors came from France.

If he was black, there’s a good chance

they would have looked at him

laying there on the ground

and without pause,

they would have fabricated just cause

and shot him.

It’s a privilege not to be shot

for falling off a roof

it’s a privilege not to be shot

for holding a cell phone

it’s a privilege not to be shot

for smoking cigarettes

it’s a privilege not to be shot

for driving your car

it’s a privilege not to be shot

standing outside a crowded bar

it’s a privilege not to be shot

for answering your front door

or for jogging

or for shopping at the hardware store

and, besides the policeman’s bullets

there are countless other reasons

why even working class white folks

are privileged beyond our wildest imagination

are privileged beyond comprehension

and that’s not to mention all the “collateral damage”

killed in the war’s we fund but refuse to see.

At the very least, it’s a privilege

that we won’t be murdered by the state

for merely existing

and until that day comes

for everyone

I won’t be loading bullets

into government guns,

I’ll be resisting

and insisting that this privilege

be erased

because, like Bob Marley said,

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior 

and another inferior

is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned

everywhere is war

me say war…”



About soitgoes1984

I live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean in the Hawaiian Kingdom which is currently illegally occupied by the American government. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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