Author: Judith

The Only Child of Privilege

The Only Child of Privilege

Op-Ed: I pushed my kids to succeed academically to escape racism. But it doesn’t work that way.

I live on an upper-middle class two-family home in a good neighborhood.

At the front door is a plaque that reads, in red letters, NO WHITE CANDY CAUTION – DO NOT INSERT YOUR KEY.

My father bought the house in the 1920’s and was a carpenter on the local construction site.

In my memory, the house, on South Street, was filled with people from all walks of life, from all parts of the country living on top of each other in the same area.

My father worked as an orderly on the local construction crew after World War II, and I was still in kindergarten when he finally retired. I moved to his house because I wanted to continue living within walking distance of where I grew up.

The neighborhood, although not particularly poor, was not particularly well-kept, and I recall people wearing ragged clothes, having dirty hair, and using the city library in the basement.

I remember going to school with kids that were so big they couldn’t go into the washroom in the morning because they could barely reach the door. My classmate and I used to go back and forth from the school bathroom to the kitchen to get ice cream for ourselves, a bit of harmless teenage rebellion that was always at the bottom of my list of concerns.

I didn’t consider myself to be a child of privilege.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I never knew very much about the “other,” not being exposed to it as an adult. I had no exposure to it or to the other children. But I was the only child of the neighborhood that enjoyed good grades through high school.

I was the only child of a man who loved me, and I was the only child whose father didn’t drink. When my father came home from work tired and worn out, my mother would give him a hug and tell him, “You’re welcome.” And she would kiss his stubbly cheeks lovingly and whisper in his ear, “You’re the

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