I Can Do Better

Born in 1959, I’m the oldest child of a career fireman who also worked a variety of part-time jobs to make ends meet for his family of 6. We never went hungry, but we used a fair amount of Hamburger Helper and we ate all the leftovers. It didn’t feel privileged, but it was.

I didn’t go to college. After barely graduating from high school, I became a U.S. Army paratrooper. Upon leaving the service, I found an entry-level job with an annual salary of $11,000. Despite not having a degree, I managed to work 35 years for financial services companies. It didn’t feel privileged, but it was.

For the past four years, I’ve been a business owner and I don’t remember ever working as hard in my entire life. It doesn’t feel privileged, but it is.

Looking back on these 43 years of worklife, I have a very real appreciation for how hard and sometimes soul-crushing one’s life work can be.

Yet, without my white male privilege, it would have been far more difficult or impossible.

As trying as my journey has seemed at times, I did not face the systemized and socialized disadvantages shown in the charts linked below. I’m unable to fathom how overwhelming it is to persevere when life’s challenges are multiplied by institutional and social disadvantages.

U.S. Black-White Inequality In 6 Stark Charts

As the most basic of examples, I recently did a 30-day running challenge. Before starting my daily run, my only concern was to decide on which playlist to listen to.

Unlike my women friends, I did not worry about my safety each time I ran. This is part of my male privilege.

Unlike my black friends, I did not worry about my safety each time I ran. This is part of my white privilege.

As a Boomer who grew up in the shadow of the cultural revolution of the 1960’s, I recall having a hopeful feeling about a future populated with old, enlightened hippies. So far, we’ve failed to live up to our hype.

As for myself, I feel the first step is this self-awareness, but it’s not enough. My goal is to understand what actions I can personally take to help effect positive change.

We can do better. I can do better.

We need to do better. I need to do better.

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Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired.

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Trey Whitaker

Trey Whitaker

Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired.

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