So, at work, they passed out a survey that seems to be trying to find out how minorities are treated at the Post Office. One of the questions was “If you’re non-white, please skip. If you are white, please describe how white privilege has impacted your life and career with the USPS.”
This is my response. I ran out of space and had to stable three extra pages to the survey before mailing it back in.
When I was 4 my dad lost his job. We had to move halfway across the country so that he could take a pity job from my uncle. My uncle offered to sell the company to my dad, which was a big mistake. The business was not very successful, and the taxes on it were pretty crushing. We moved 9 more times before I was 8, because we kept being evicted because the business just wasn’t paying our bills. My youngest brother was then born two months premature, and we had no health insurance. This put my parents tens of thousands of dollars into medical debt, which they did not pay off until they were well into their 50s. We were so poor that we ate store brand macaroni and cheese for dinner 5 nights a week. At school we were part of the free lunch program, because we were so poor that we could neither pay for school lunches, or even buy food for sack lunches.
I had 3 shirts, and a coat without a zipper for years. My feet constantly hurt because my parents couldn’t afford to buy me shoes when I grew out of them, so I had to keep wearing the too small ones. When I was 14 I started working after school for another of my uncles at a landscaping business he owned., being paid under the table because I was underage. All of my money went to help my parents buy food. Finally, my mom went to our church in desperation for help with food, and we were able, though the charity of the church, to eat actual food that didn’t taste like cardboard, and had some actual variety to it.
When I turned 16, I got an actual job. I was allowed to keep $25 out of each of my paychecks. The rest went to helping to pay bills. It was expected that I would buy my own clothes and school supplies with that. I had to save up for months, sometimes, to get the things I needed. My dad finally sold the business, and got a job as a mailman, which paid better, and more steadily, but they were so far into debt because of my brother that it didn’t even really matter. He worked long, long, long hours in overtime, and I barely saw him for weeks and even months at a time. He eventually worked his way up to supervisor and worked even more long hours. When all of my siblings were old enough to be left home alone, my mom got a job, and things got much better. We were no longer on church charity for food, and they started to pay down the debt. I was allowed to start keeping my paychecks so that I could start saving for college. There was no way they would be able to help me with that.
I avoided student loans, because I’d seen what massive debt did to my parents. It took me ten years to finish college, because I took only as many classes at a time as I could afford to pay for myself. When I graduated, I couldn’t find a job, because the market was over-saturated with people who had my exact degree. Thanks High School Guidance Councilor! I went through several dead end jobs just trying to make my way through life. I worked so hard that I actually developed a stress induced seizure disorder, and then had to take very expensive medication for years to correct it. I had no health insurance to help with that, so I was out $400 a month to pay for it. Because of that, I had to remain living with my parents until I was almost 30. I was only able to move out when I applied for a substitute carrier position at the Post Office. I worked more than full time hours for ten years at that job, but I got no benefits or health insurance out of it, because my job was considered a part time job. When I FINALLY managed to get a full time position, I had put myself quite a ways into medical debt due to that medication, and other health problems I developed due to overworking myself. I’ve been working every scrap of overtime available for the 10 years I’ve been a full time mailman, and finally after a freaking decade, for the first time in my adult life, I can FINALLY say that I am debt free. I’m 43 years old, and I’m unmarried, because I worked so hard just to claw my way out of poverty that I had no time for anything else.
Please, tell me, which part of that sounds privileged to you? I find this question insulting, racist, and, frankly, out of touch with reality. I intend to make a formal complaint about this to my union and I will escalate it as high as I need to in order to find the idiot who put this question on this survey and make them accountable for it. Until such time as I do, each and every person who approved this question may treat themselves to eating an entire buffet of dicks.