FLOWER MOUND, TX — March 21, 2021 — Every time I hear the term “white privilege” I wonder how I missed out on all the extra opportunities that term implies. Growing up in a rat and roach infested tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1950s didn’t seem to me as though I was being pampered because of my skin color. My 6 siblings and I dealt with the usual challenges of poverty in low-income areas. The building in which we lived was probably a hundred years old. It had a coal furnace in the basement to provide hot water, occasionally, if someone had shoveled bituminous energy into that blazing underground chamber. We were raised by what’s characterized today as “a single mom.” In those days I suppose it was simply stated as “a family without a breadwinner.” Our father abandoned us at an early age, forcing our mom to resort to welfare, known back then as “relief.”
Although there were black residents throughout the neighborhood, along with Jews, Hispanics and a few Asians, they were obviously better off financially than we were. That’s because blacks, in those days, probably had more intact families than they have today. I won’t get into the reasons for their broken homes today, but, if I did, I’d say it’s because liberal politicians need them to be dependent in order to keep them as a significant part of their voter base. I don’t remember ever seeing any black residents in that crumbling edifice that housed us, a dump which could have easily won the award for the worst human containment area in the city.
Yet, the government was constructing many tall buildings, just a couple of blocks from me, in a large area along the East River that would come to be known as “The Projects.” Residency in those new structures, equipped with elevators, secure entrances to each building, doorbells to contact residents, garbage disposal units on every floor, and a scenic view of, what was back then, a picturesque seascape, was reserved mainly for blacks. Given that I went to school with blacks, played stickball on the street with blacks, exercised on the “parallel and horizontal bars” in Tompkins Square Park with blacks and engaged with them in every other conceivable activity, it never occurred to me to feel resentment for them because their living accommodations were much better than mine.
We didn’t have many material things, but we had a mom who taught us to treat everyone equally. The “Golden Rule” was a major part of our in-home education. When I was old enough to have my first steady job, I worked as a clerk for the post office. It was the early sixties and race was becoming a hot political issue. Affirmative Action programs gave blacks a boost in education, jobs and any other endeavor that would raise their lifestyle. Although I was aware of this advantage being given to blacks, I just figured I’d have to work harder to overcome the extra points they were receiving on promotional exams and other privileges that were not available to me.
I suppose it was because I never developed that self-corrupting sin, known as envy. In Roman Catholicism, envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Book of Genesis describes envy as the motivation behind Cain’s murdering of his brother Abel. Cain envied him because he believed that God favored Abel because of his many sacrifices. Well, I suppose, my Catholic religion infused me with more than a conscience; it made me realize that envy was a useless emotion. Therefore, I never spent a minute of my life wanting what someone else had. I knew intuitively that we are the masters of our own future. My siblings and I used our God-given talents and our mother’s precious love to raise ourselves out of that gloomy environment and become productive members of society.
We don’t have to proclaim how openminded we are, or how many black friends we have. I feel certain that such offerings only come from those who may be struggling with a coloration ambivalence due to their lack of social interaction with other races. However, it’s not as though we’re the only whites who feel this way. Millions of decent, God-fearing Americans don’t have a scintilla of racial bias in their DNA. It is precisely their lack of bigotry that makes them resent being called racists, merely because they have less skin pigmentation than their darker friends and neighbors. Nevertheless, those who seek to divide us, will continue to fuel resentment between the races with accusations of white supremacy, white privilege and other spurious appellations. Thanks to my early religious instruction I have faith that good will always win out over evil. As my mom would say, “With the help of God people will learn to love each other.”
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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”
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EDITOR HEI ARIS’ NOTE: There are comments posted in the comments sections. There re also comments sent to the editor/publisher. The takeaway is quite simple… People live different lives. Their circumstances are rarely the same even though there may be similarities. Whether the poverty Mr. Weir experienced is different than other people, no matter the color of their skin, religion, gender, sexual preference, national originwhat have you. It is appalling tht so many people cannot accept the difficulties that each person may have suffered, a if there is pecking order of who suffered more. The pain, frustration, anguish, eve one’s mental state have all been challenged and to each to some degree or nother. Life is not fair, and often delivers many frustrations, disparities among people. Is one easier to comprehend that the other? Is one less painful than the other? Is one’s circumstance embellished or diminished because of one circumstance or another? Perhaps. More likely we suffer as we do, with no fully understandable how we survived or if we succumbed the life’ travail.
While our formative or present years litter our past or present, the vitriol, the pain flung against one man, woman, of oe circumstance is a contorted bigotry defined by not wanting to emit another person’s pain. Worse still, is te dismissal to ne’s pst and throwing a new form o bullying and pai onto another. The truth is that if a person cannot comprehend the troubling circumstances of another, they are either a corpse, in search of a scapegoat, in order to through their past pain onto another. Why? Haven’t we all suffered long enough? Do we not suffer today?
It is time to understand, rather than to chastise others. It iss time to stop the hatred as there are fewer righteous among us than e imagine. Rather than degrade, defame, or marginalize, learn to comprehend another’s pain so that you may avoid it yourself. Be thankful that your pain was not s great as another.
It’s time to heal. It is time to respect one another. It is time appreciate hat we can learn form another person’s circumstance. The hate email I received is testimony to those who will not learn and only want this publication to not permit this author, among others, not to be permitted to share their perspective or views. As long as I a publisher it will not happen. It will not happen because I respect the life that forged Bob Weir beyond his circumstance to a loving men, father, religious, learned, man ho shares eloquently his ire in bit d pieces. I can feel his pin and his exhilaration and see his ell deserved pride. I wish you the same.