Friday, December 2, 2011


For a long time I have struggled with the issue of privilege. As a fairly well educated white heterosexual man I have had privileges that many people in this country don't have, and most of those privilges are unearned. I have been hoping that there would be more honest discussion of privilege in our country, but recent comments about privilege made by Gov. Rick Perry are not what I would call honest. In attacks on the President, Gov. Perry has made the claim that Pres. Obama has had a privileged life, one that makes it impossible for him to understand hard-working Americans (like Gov. Perry?).  I would never deny that the President enjoyed some privileges as he grew up - the privileges of a mother committed to seeing to it that he had a good education and of scholarships that allowed him to get that education. He also appears to have intellectual gifts that Gov. Perry doesn't have.

What makes Gov. Perry's comments less than an honest contribution to a discussion of unearned privilege is his total lack of any acknowledgement of his own privileges as a white male heterosexual evangelical Christian in Texas, nor any acknowledgement of the less than privileged aspects of the President's early life. I know what it is like to be raised by a single mother, but I have no idea, nor does Gov. Perry, of what is like to be a biracial child growing up in America.

Perhaps there are Americans who will buy Gov. Perry's assertions about the President's privileged childhood, but I hope that most Americans will scratch their heads and wonder, as I did, about whether Gov. Perry has finally lost touch with reality.

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