I grew up in northern Wyoming and now live in Bozeman. Given the racial composition in this part of the country, it could be easy to think that “white privilege” somehow applies less to me, my family or this community. Believing so would be naïve.
Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII and benefited when they returned, either through the GI Bill, career connections, or federal assistance with purchasing their first home. They received this
support both for their military service and for their white skin; their black and brown fellow veterans did not have access to the same benefits. My grandparents were thus able to accumulate wealth in ways that trickled down to both my parents and myself, giving us significant and long-term advantages over similar black and brown families.
Obviously everyone’s story is different, but I believe all white people in America have benefited to some extent. Many of us have worked hard and continue to do so, but the system was rigged from the start and continues to be, even out here in the shadow of the Bridgers.
We have a shared responsibility to take amends for past injustices and to fix things going forward. This will be difficult work that will necessarily involve white people ceding power, money, status, visibility and influence. Fundamentally, we are going to have to give up
some of the “stuff ” we thought we earned through our own smarts, talents or luck.
This can be uncomfortable to think about (let alone talk about or act on), but it is time to stop pretending that nothing is wrong and this will all just “work itself out” if we give it enough time.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 6/13/20