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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thoughts about Privilege and Success

I don’t often vent about things of this nature, but in the world of media and writing there has been a buzz word circulating on my social news feeds, that has me grating my teeth like nails on a chalkboard. The word is “Privilege”. Over the years I’ve seen this word morph into a bad name, and if you happen to even show slight shades of it,  you are to be ostracized, like a person with a bad case of cooties. Although there are several layers as to what one considers privilege, the term is often used to refer to “entitled whites” or people of achievement and means. I find it difficult staying quiet when I see things getting so over the top nowadays that I feel something HAS to be said about this. 

Listen folks, let’s stop this nonsense right off the bat, shall we? 

I don’t deny that certain privileged groups have at some point in our history oppressed or taken advantage of other human beings, but this is nothing new. I’m not saying this to diminish what’s happened, but people go through this every day and across the whole social economic strata and races. TRUTH is, and no one wants to hear the truth anymore, but it happens. The only thing that has changed is how we are reacting to this and how we are teaching our children to respond to the inequities that come our way. It really boils down to whether we are going to teach our children to be VICTIMS or SURVIVORS.

Please stop this nonsense that it’s impossible to get a leg up in this nation. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world where opportunities like a free public school education is offered to everyone and anyone WILLING to learn. Yet, seizing that opportunity is not often the case. As a former school teacher at an inner city school, I use the term "willing" deliberately, because I understand the struggle every teacher goes through, just to get the children of this country to WANT to learn. Trust me when I say that many of these educators, it seems, would benefit more from going to a comedy school to learn how to stand on their heads just to keep the students entertained and interested, because some students have NO interest in such FREE education.

And before you start calling me “PRIVILEGED” let’s clear the air, shall we? First of all, I’m neither white nor wealthy. In fact, if you must place me in a certain group, I’m Hispanic.  I was raised in a home environment that if I sat down and told you everything my sister and I went through, you’d certainly be left wondering why we didn’t end up in the streets, doing drugs, or become a statistic of some sort. By the definition of the word "privilege" I can assert with absolute certainty that I wasn't. By today's standards I could easily fall under the category of being OPPRESSED and DISADVANTAGED. I could have hated everyone for the situation I was in, cried and whined about how hard I had it and blamed others as to why things didn’t go so well for me. But do you know what made the difference? It was my MINDSET, folks.

When people in some of the neighborhoods I grew up with were doing drugs, beating their wives, and cheating welfare, I told myself that that wasn’t the way I was going to live. I was determined to do better and IMPROVE my life, even if it was one homework done at a time, one milestone graduation at a time, and one publishing success at a time.  

Am I there yet? Have I achieved a certain level of success and privilege? If you equate that to dollars and cents, not even close. But I call overcoming domestic abuse as a child, getting past impoverishment, and finally pursuing my dreams, a glowing success. My novellas are not national best-sellers. I’m not swimming in money. Every piece I publish takes an enormous amount of financial sacrifice working to not only pay bills for my family, but hire editors, book cover artists, marketing supplies, and fees to get the final product ready for readers. I’ve had MANY obstacles, and will probably have hundreds more before I can say, “I have finally arrived.” But you know what keeps me going? That we live in a country that allows me to climb that ladder as high as I want it to go. I keep in mind that the Declaration of Independence never said that I had a RIGHT to happiness, but rather, I had a right in this country to PURSUE it with all the energy, determination, and hard work that I want to put into it.
Despite what the world scene is today, NEVER apologize or feel guilty for having achieved a certain measure of success in this life. If there’s a dream you want, chase it. Doing so, makes you a fighter. It’s what makes you a survivor. It’s what makes you a NON-quitter, and produces a WINNER in life. So throw away this nonsense of thinking you can’t succeed because of privilege; of being ticked off at the world because others have and you don’t; if you don’t like your situation, change it, and for mercy’s sake: WORK.HARD. YOU alone have the power to make a difference in your life and the life of others. Real life is filled with unsafe spaces. There’s no magic formula to this, other than needing your own wits and a strong-willed spirit to rise above it. If you change your mindset, it will change your world, just as it changed mine.  I wish you luck in all of your endeavors.  And if you’re a struggling writer trying to make a dent in this world with your gift, I encourage you to keep going and never give up!


  1. Very good points! Like you, I'm shocked that so many hardworking kids have abandoned their hardwork to being victims. This is such an empowering article!