There is a lot of talk about privilege these days. The word “privilege” means, a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. The word “privilege” is used against people like a weapon. It is a pejorative. If you can hang that word “privilege” on someone, especially a political opponent, you can discredit them, and even silence them. The privileged didn’t earn what they have in life, so their privilege prevents them from having the proper perspective to offer a legitimate opinion. They are not legitimate people. It seems that it is always the other guy that has privilege. But in reality, nobody really knows what anyone else has gone through in their life, no one knows how much privilege or struggles anyone has, so making assumptions about people based on their exteriors is, in itself, prejudiced.
“White privilege” is a term that has been used a lot in recent years as a political weapon to delegitimize white people, their successes, their opinions, their points of view. “White privilege” is a racist term. Any expression that employs someone’s race, and it is used to malign that person and their entire race is racist. People who use the expression “white privilege” know it’s racist, they just don’t care because they know they can get away with it. There are many real, consequential privileges that people have that they never acknowledge, privileges that are available to everyone beyond race, ethnicity, gender.
Does anyone talk about American privilege? People born in America are born into the wealthiest country in the history of the world, where the opportunity to succeed is so available that impoverished people from all over the world of all races are risking life and limb to come here. The United States leads the world in GDP, individual net worth, and personal income. For as many people who like to trash America, how many people leave? What is the net migration of the United States? In 2019, 843,593 immigrants became US citizens, while only 2,577 US citizens renounced their citizenship, for a net migration of plus 841,016. There are countries on this planet where the leading cause of death is starvation. Approximately 9 million people worldwide die of hunger each year; more than the death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis combined. 17 people die of starvation every minute. That’s 1 every 3½ seconds. But we live in a country where one of the biggest health issues is obesity. There are kids in the world who died while you read this because they did not have enough food to eat, and one of our biggest problems is eating too much. Weight loss has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Having more than enough food to eat is a privilege.
What about 21st century privilege? How many people acknowledge the privilege we have to live in the time that we do? One hundred years ago, most homes didn’t have indoor plumbing, electricity, a washer and dryer, a refrigerator or freezer. No one had a TV, or a computer, or a smart phone, or the internet. Traveling from California to New York used to take 4 days by train, not 4 hours by plane, and no one complained. They felt lucky to get there that fast.
A hundred years ago, most babies were born at home by a midwife. 9 of 1,000 women in the United States died in child-birth, and 100 infants died before age 1 year. Today, less than 1 out of 1,000 women die in child-birth, and the infant mortality rate declined to 7 per 1000 live births. Vaccines and anti-biotics had yet to be developed; people died of polio, smallpox, measles, diphtheria. The invention of penicillin in 1928, and other anti-biotics have saved upwards of 200 million people lives, millions every year. Do we realize how extremely difficult, painful, grief-stricken our lives would be if we were born in the 19th century? Do we realize how lucky we are to live in the United States of America in the 21st century?
One may ask, if living in the 21st century America is so great, why are there so many people in this country struggling? There is another privilege that is more important than white-privilege, 21st century-privilege, and American-privilege. It is a privilege that supersedes and facilitates all other forms of privilege. It is a privilege that I gladly acknowledge for myself. It is a privilege that is the root cause of any of the successes I have had in my life, and the main cause of the successes in many people’s lives. This privilege is what I refer to as Two-Parent Privilege. I had the great fortune, the unbelievable privilege to be born and raised by two parents who loved each other, and stayed married for 59 years until my father’s death. Not only did they love each other, but they loved each one of their children, and they worked and sacrificed every day to give their children opportunities, to give their children a better life than they were born into.
Being raised in a two-parent household is one of the greatest privileges there is because it is the best predictors of success in life in America. If you break down life outcomes; income level, education level, high school drop-out rate, crime rate, by race, you will find that Asians have the best life outcomes in the United States, whites are next, followed by Hispanics and then black people. But then if look at the rate of children born and raise in a single parent household, Asians (15%) have the lowest in the United States, whites (24%) are next lowest, followed by Hispanics (42%), and black people (64%) have the highest rate. There is a direct relationship between children being raised in two-parent households and successful life outcomes. If you compare life outcomes between the races and account for single parent households, the racial disparities in life outcomes will shrink substantially.
If we believe that black lives matter, and even all lives matter, we must acknowledge and promote the importance of the privilege of being raised in a two-parent loving household. It is a privilege that transcends race, ethnicity, religion, gender, social and economic status, it is the most important privilege and preempts every other privilege. So, if you want your kids to have privilege that leads to a successful life, you don’t have to be white, you don’t have to be CEO of some company, you don’t have to inherit money or win the lottery, all you have to do is be married when you have your children, stay married, love your spouse, and most importantly love your children, because that is the greatest privilege of them all.
Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a frequent contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.