Being white doesn’t equal perfect life

Phoebe Varney,
Albion, MI

Based on the way things are now, everyone assumes that I grew up in a perfect life full of white privilege and smooth sailing. I go to a private college, I am a cheerleader who is in a sorority who enjoys name brand clothes and has an expensive taste. I am usually very generous with money and items with other people. I have a car, a phone, a laptop and never go without anything that I “need”. All of these things add up to make it seem like I live a perfect life but looking back it was never easy. When I was younger my family rarely went on destination vacation due to the fact it was too expensive. We went tent camping instead, until my parents decided to buy a camper. A few years later the camper was repossessed because we couldn’t afford to make payments. My parents tried hard to make sure that me and my sister had everything we wanted. We played sports and were involved in many things. Everyone assumes that when I say that I was involved in cheerleading and dance for 10 years that I was super expensive competitive teams but that definitely wasn’t the case.

When I was 12 my parents got divorced. This created so much havoc for everyone in the family. It created many problems for my parents that took me a long time to realize. They no longer had a joint income, were both making payments on housing/rent, and were still trying to pay for all of our involvement. I can recall going to the store with my dad multiple times where he would spend all that he had left in his bank account to make sure me and my sister had enough food to eat even if that meant he wasn’t eating a proper meal. My mom made substantially less than my dad at her job but she managed the best she could with the financial help of her parents and some good budgeting skills. Eventually they both of them were able to get back on their feet. The second vacation I ever went on was my senior year of high school for spring break. Once I got to college both of my parents got remarried. I go to a private college but out of all my friends I pay the least to go here thanks to FAFSA.

I have two jobs on campus so I can be financially comfortable and be generous because I know what it’s like to not have much. I am in a sorority but have been on the payment plan every semester. My parents help me as much as they can. I have gotten my car and technology as presents for holidays and even though none of it is top of the line and is outdated I am happy with what I have. All of my name brand clothes have been gifts. I rarely buy things for myself but will not hesitate to spend money on other people. White privilege does exist and the stereotype of the perfect white family living overly comfortable does’t apply to every white person.


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