Privilege 1: the lottery of birth

I did pretty well in the birth lottery. Born in the mid 20th Century in Los Angeles as a White male in a stable and caring middle-class Republican family. I’m tall, reasonably intelligent, and free of childhood trauma; oozing privilege from every pore. Well, almost every pore, I didn’t do so well on the physical dimensions – I’m left handed, nearsighted, and I was slow and clumsy at sports. Later in life I have had numerous health and medical challenges.

I am a birthright Feminist. My mother had a university degree and a successful career. My father treated my mother with kindness and respect and did lots of housework — most of the dishes and all the heavy cleaning. I grew up in an environment of gender equality and mutual respect.

There were almost no Black people, Asians, or Native Americans in my young life. My parents were mildly racist and anti-Semitic but did not attempt to instill those values in my brother and me. Instead they emphasized that everyone deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect.

About 80% of the children in the schools I attended were Jewish. Many had parents in the film industry and business, but many had parents who were refugees from Europe and who had lost friends and loved ones. My peer group was mostly Jewish and as a result I was well-informed about Judaism, Zionism, and the the Holocaust.

Thus, by my late teen years I had only experienced a life of first-world White privilege which I didn’t know I had; there were no people of colour with whom to compare myself and I had never travelled outside California. I had internalized values of Feminism and respect for human dignity from my family. Regarding anti-Semitism or the opposite, I was much more influenced by my peers than by my family.

This is my background of privilege. In the next few posts I will describe the events that led to my awakening to my privilege and how I have dealt with it. Perhaps this will lead to clarity for people other than I.

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