My dad was an Italian/Irishman who grew up in the Bronx and Harlem areas of New York City. He grew up tough and he grew up mean. He was the only white kid in many of the schools he attended. He was involved in gangs, had been in and out of jail and had made some horrible decisions, until his mother made him choose between the military or prison. He chose the military where he later met my mother.
My mother was half Irish, half Scottish and was abandoned on my now grandparents door steps when she was two years old. She struggled growing up, trying to fit into the perfect molded “white” society my adopted grandparents had been raised in. When she could no longer mold into their image of what she should be, she left and later met my father.
My parents gave life to me and my younger sister. My father retired from the Navy and started a career in aerospace mechanics. My mother became a nurse. A short time after they sailed off into the sun set, however, their demons came back to remind them of where they came from. After the mortgage was gambled away and the rest of savings found at the bottom of a bottle, it didn’t take long for them to lose their jobs and become homeless. We lived in a motor home for the first two years of my life and they traveled the country looking for whatever jobs they could get. They ended up in a very small, very white town 3 1/2 hours outside of Seattle Washington.
We lived in the boonies in a town where everyone knew everyone and no one liked us. By the time I was 5 my parents marriage had dissolved completely and soon after, my dad packed his bags and left us. I never heard from him again. My mother often times worked 3 jobs. There were many Christmas’s where all we had was each other, not even enough money for a tree or food. My mom would be away from the home for days at a time, trying to work as many hours as she could to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I remember sleeping in a garage and in the back of my mom’s car when she had been evicted from her home. There were days where there was no food, no electricity and no hope. I heard my mother cry more times growing up than I ever heard her laugh. The town we lived in was so small, everyone knew everyone and they all knew we were poor.
I remember being told by other kid’s parents that their kids couldn’t play with me because of who my mother was and how they didn’t want their kids to be around my mother. There were times where I hated her for being poor. Times where I didn’t understand why I was treated differently for something I couldn’t control. If I wasn’t being teased for being poor I was being called “white trash” by other white kids just because I wasn’t in the same tax bracket as them.
As I grew up, the town I lived in also grew and in came a new group of people. The Hispanics. They traveled up the California coast and when picking season was over they went back home. Every year more and more Hispanics showed up and stayed. I never viewed them as any other race. They were the only race of humans that actually took me in. I worked in the orchards with them, picked cherries with them. I saw the hard work it took and understood their way of life and I loved it.
I’m older now, at this point and it’s my senior year of high school. Halfway through the school year, my mom had lost her job and decided she had, had enough of this life and committed suicide. I was a 18 year old kid who now had to support a 15 year old sibling. I dropped out of school, got my G.E.D and enrolled in college. I lived in the back of my truck after sending my younger sibling off with distant relatives to give her the best shot she could get in life. I found myself right in the same place my mother had been so many times and I wasn’t angry with her. For once, I understood her pain and I was determined to break the chain.
The first year of college went great until the Financial aid rules changed and minorities were given the financial aid first and this meant that I no longer got free college. I couldn’t qualify for FAFSA and my dreams of beating the stigma that was placed on me slowly faded.
I tried to get a higher paying job to pull me out of hole I was in but surprise, surprise, only bilingual people where given the best paying jobs due to the high population growth of Hispanics that couldn’t speak English. This is still a problem in the town I grew up in so not only was I up against highly educated white people, I was also up against bilingual individuals in a fight for a better paying job.
For the past ten years I have been working 2-3 jobs. 15 hour days just to put a roof over my head. I have self studied multiple subjects so that I would not fall even farther than I already have from my peers. I have had to claw my way out of the darkest of places, on my own to get where I am and I am sick of being made to feel guilty and blamed for being white. White privilege is a lie told by those who hate white people. I have been discarded, overlooked, beaten down, lied to. I have been told that because I’m not bilingual I don’t get the job, because my last name is not Escelara I do not get help to pay for school. I have gone without help from DSHS because I’m white.
I’m tired of being blamed. My ancestors didn’t come to America until the 1930’s. The truth is, we have all been enslaved at one point, we have all been hurt, we have all been victims. We have all been tossed to the side because of our skin color or because of our income. We have all been judged. I’m not going to feel guilty anymore for being who I am but I will treat everyone with kindness, the type of kindness I longed for from others. I will chose to make a positive impact and to help people realize that with hard work, dedication, humbleness and kindness that anyone is capable of becoming better then they are now. Anything that comes easy in life is not worth having and being angry all the time will just make you sick.