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The Definition of Privilege

Author: Adam Falkner

Nathan and Davis had the wad of bills we stole from Davis’ father’s work coat so when they led us down the block to Hop In we followed because we were thirsty and had no idea the darker skinned of us would only minutes later end up with their chests on the pavement,

a stranger’s hands scaling their waistlines and thighs while the lighter skinned of us would watch from the sidewalk with our tongues pretzeled into knots like the barrels of cartoon rifles

and I was nine-years-old on the verge of a fifteen-year obsession to prove I was not whatever it was that kept me off the pavement alongside Nathan and Davis,

first by quitting classical piano lessons and growing my hair out and studying the blues then traveling across continents with groups of quasi-guilty Christians to build schools in Peru or community centers in Israel or soccer fields in Mexico or Wherever

and then working up the nerve to rock matching track suits every day in the upper lot at Pioneer High School and basketball jerseys two sizes too-big and start drinking forties of Old English malt liquor like Ice Cube with kids who lived in Eagle Point and North Maple and reciting Too Short verses to my crush at the bus stop where I eventually started smoking so much weed before school that I got suspended for vomiting in the trash can during my third period English class

and had to go to summer school which I really used as an opportunity to distribute the first of many mixtapes in my very serious rap career that I swore would be my “ticket outta here” on which I used spoonfuls of words my mother didn’t understand until I finally (not somehow) landed in college

and registered mostly for classes in which I was the only white person where a professor asked me to share the earliest memory I had of race so I told the story of Nathan and Davis and Hop In and the stranger’s hands

and she asked why whiteness made me so uncomfortable and I said It doesn’t

but then I said Because I don’t ever think about it

and she replied Not having to think about something sounds like a pretty amazing privilege

and then I started seeing kids who looked just like me (everywhere) whose whole lives were bending into knots like the barrels of cartoon rifles just to prove they weren’t whatever it was that kept me off the pavement when I was nine-years-old,

which is to say guilty for something they didn’t do

which is to say I never owned slaves,

I’d never say the N-word – ever,

which is to say invisible

which is to say I don’t really have a race

which is to say the option of silence.

DMU Timestamp: February 19, 2015 14:07





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