It Has Been My Privilege

drs

It has been my recent privilege to abandon unproductive social interaction, which for anyone openly vocal about Politics, Race, Social Justice Resurgence and Criminal Justice Reform really translates as at-or-near zero interaction on Social Media.

It has also been my privilege (along with millions of other former and current Civil Servants at all levels) to see the burgeoning Public dialog swing in the direction I’ve (we’ve) been advocating for decades. That the key to Public/Private Partnership is a relationship built upon a foundation of mutually earned, deserved, and proudly accepted TRUST on ALL Sides. That relationship currently exists only with respect to HOPE, not trust. Accordingly this ‘hope model’ is most likely to continue for some time, though terrible things will certainly continue to befall us, and as hungry media spews out divisive rhetoric. I trust this, as I HOPE it doesn’t come to pass.

It was my privilege to live an adult professional life of Public Service. I was one of the many who were inspired to answer the call to join the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. We did more than babysit Bridesmaids on flights to Vegas. The FAMS was ground zero in the effort which would eventually culminate with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, an event so consequential in American History that it will provide fact and fodder for decades of Journalistic Review and Scholarly Debate. Remember the Patriot Act? I remember it, and I’ve not been a huge fan of many of the Act’s actions or consequences, whether intentional or unintentional.

It was my privilege to serve as a Senior Air Traffic Control (ATC) Supervisor and Specialist. We did more than babysit most of the aircraft in the sky from point to point and from wheels to wings and back, because we did it carrying an extra load. We carried the added weight of physical and mental stress from a job which few other professions can relate to, this on top of our own share of the burdens of everyday life. While the Nation’s stressed out Citizenry is popping happy pills like an endless supply of Pez, ATC and other professions are left to deal with the totality of their burdens without the aid of such assistance. Use a pill, lose your job…that’s the broad reality. Perhaps one’s failing under that overload deserves to be a special Aviation Incident Category. Aircraft and the people flying them aren’t the only ones in the Aviation Community to crash and burn.

It was my privilege to serve 10 ½ years in the United States Marine Corps, serving in both Marine ATC and Security Forces. From my first very long day of Boot Camp to today, I’ve had the opportunity to do and accomplish and fail at more things than I could ever imagine as a young man. I changed what was my reality by reaching for what was possible, and by reaching deeper within myself than I’d ever thought possible. Earning the title ‘United States Marine’ was the first major personal achievement of my adult life, and my first professional interaction with black people.

It has been my privilege to do everything I have done in life as a white person. This simple fact has loomed large in my life since the early days of my childhood. I was raised around Racism. I know Racism is real and I know I’m Racist. I know that Racism is real because I know other Racists. I recognize an extremely reluctant Racist every time I look in the mirror, and every time I see that part of myself in that reflection I am stung by that recognition. Then I try to do better, and be less racist in the future. I do what I can.

It was my privilege to have a multi-racial (black & white) stepdaughter. I was privileged to give her a white stepsister, privileged to watch them interact with the world separately and together, and privileged to have a living example of white privilege and racial disparity to study on a daily basis.

It was my privilege to be pulled over in a freeway traffic stop just a bit south of Dallas, Texas for excessive speed. It was my privilege to complete that process having uttered only one single word to the attending Officer through a 4 inch opening in my driver’s side window. I was not alone. I was not cautious. I made no attempt to put the Officer at ease, nor did I limit my movement or conversation or other interactions during this encounter, yet I met with no ill treatment or questions or even questioning gaze. I was a forty-something white man with a wife and others in a Land Rover SUV. Admittedly, it was just a speed trap, but my actions and all but absent speech never triggered a hint of suspicion on the part of the Officer.

It was recently my privilege to witness a young black Bank Teller interact firmly and respectfully with an older white woman bent on wounding the young lady’s spirit by attacking her with vile, RACIST comments and accusations. I wondered aloud how I would react to a customer’s insistent request that I don gloves for the duration of their transaction because they were allergic to my Race. The older woman actually insisted she was allergic to black people, and everyone else in the bank felt their jaws hit the floor. As management attempted to mitigate the damage and usher the woman out the door, I replaced her at the same young teller’s window, and the gist of my message to the young lady was how well she handled the offensive interaction…much better than I thought I’d have done in the same situation.

It has been my privilege to do or attempt or fail at a great many things. I openly admit that the greatest unearned privilege of my life has been my having had the good fortune to be born a white male in America.

It has been my lifelong privilege to be white.

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