Re: “Maine Voices: Putting privilege to work for justice” (June 21):

I am so sick and tired of being labeled as privileged because I am white.

My maternal grandparents were dirt poor and came over here from Ireland in the late 1880s to escape the potato famine.

My grandfather was discriminated against while trying to find a job in Massachusetts because “No Irish Need Apply” signs were nailed to workplace doors. No privilege there. He moved to Vermont, finally found work, married my grandmother from Canada (who was of French and Cree Indian ancestry) and raised three daughters on a millworker’s salary. No privilege there.

And to be called “white” is a misnomer; because of my ancestry, I have pink skin, olive skin and, in the summer, sometimes tan skin.

Oh, and my father was born in a bedroom in a house with no electricity. No privilege there.

Thus, to generalize that all of us who are Caucasian automatically are “privileged” is literally ignorant.

One of my best friends in high school was black. We never, ever thought of ourselves as being a different color from each other. Charlie and I were friends who laughed and had fun and did not give a thought to our race.

Stop using the term “white privilege” so freely and as a collective phrase when you don’t know all the ancestral facts about every person. Don’t make assumptive judgments about human skin tone.

We are all the same color inside. Privilege is not inherent. Lately, it is a state of mind.

Maureen Mathieu


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