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With all this talk about “white privilege” lately, I thought it might be time that I indulged in a little self-examination.   I mean, it’s painfully obvious that since I’m a rich white dude who is independently wealthy because of my skin color, shouldn’t I take a little time out of my busy day of clinging to my guns and my Bible and take a long, hard look at my undeserved status in life? 

Oh, I wish it were so.   My “privilege”, such as it is, involves a job that doesn’t pay that great, a mortgage, a 1992 rusted Jeep Cherokee Sport with 230,000+ miles, and as of this this year, a pile of medical bills from surgery back in February.   I’m getting up there, and my old white privileged carcass ain’t what it used to be. 

At my age, I thought that by now things would be a lot better.   But, I had the privilege of making some choices that at the time I thought would turn out better.   Most guys my age went to college right out of high school and started their careers afterwards.  Me….I went on the road with a Christian rock band.  Granted, that band eventually went on to become very well known.  Due to bad management, egotistical band mates and underlying music biz politics, I wasn’t in the line-up during the big years.  Guess my white privilege let me down.   So, who do I blame for this?

Since the privilege of being a successful musician didn’t happen, I settled for a series of jobs doing everything from blue collar factory and warehouse type work, to white collar office work and free-lance journalism.   I guess my white privilege was also not functioning when I got laid off, and, I have to admit, even fired a couple of times.   Since I’m white, under current thinking, that should not have happened…right?  

I went back to college in my 30s in an effort to better myself.  My white privilege failed me yet again, though, because I wasn’t able to complete a degree program.   The fact is, I ran out of money and it took a few years to pay off the student loans I did have.   At that time, I had a wife, a young daughter, and a mortgage, so my privilege dictated that I had to work instead of stay in school.   What happened to my white guy affirmative action to keep me in school and pay for it?

So, after all this, why hasn’t my white privilege kicked in yet?   I mean, it’s time, I’m entitled because I’m white.  I shouldn’t have to work at this stage of my life, right?  

To borrow a phrase from Susan Stamper Brown, none of this is really “worthy of worry”.  (, 6/16/15)  I’ve learned that the only real privilege I have is the ability to make choices.  I’ll admit that I’ve made several bad ones in my life, but I’ve also been blessed with more good things than I deserve.   And the source of all the good in my life is God Himself, and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.    I have two grown, wonderful children and two grandsons that make me proud; I have a wonderful wife who puts up with me; I have great friends; I still get to play music, and I’m even grateful for my job, such as it is. 

Back on May 12th of this year at the Georgetown University Summit on Poverty, President Barack Hussein Obama made reference to  “society’s lottery winners”.   Of course he was once again promoting socialist class warfare.   The reference here was yet another attempt to blame white people in particular for the fact that some have more than others.   Concepts such as work ethic, personal responsibility, pride and attitude never entered into the equation. 

I do have to confess to being one of those “lottery winners”, but not for the reason you think.  You see, I’m adopted.   God arranged things for me in such a way that I ended up in the family I did.  My folks were hard working business owners.  I didn’t want for much growing up, but I still had to work.  When I showed an interest in music, they bought me my first cheap guitar and small amp for my 14th birthday.  After that, I was on my own when it came time to buy better gear.   They gave me the privilege of working for the money I needed.   They also gave me the privilege of making the choices I did.   Granted, they wondered about my sanity a time or two, but that was part of growing up.   They especially gave me the privilege of learning how to own up to my failures, learn from my mistakes, and show gratitude for what I had.   I also learned the privilege of how to say “please”, “thank you”, “I’m sorry” (when needed), and how to use such arcane phrases as “Sir”, and “Ma’am”.  

In short, my “lottery winnings” amount to a white privilege built on a work ethic and the ability to be introspective. Okay, so I don’t have the huge house, the gold records on the wall and the Mercedes 450SL I’ve always wanted…but for what I do have, I know that yes, I am privileged to have it.  


John DeGroff

John DeGroff is the original bass player for the Christian rock band Petra. He currently plays for the band GHF which is comprised of other original members from Petra. DeGroff has extensive experience as a freelance music journalist and newspaper reporter as well as an on-line music reviewer. He is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and lives in Warsaw, Indiana where he is employed as a care giver for mentally challenged adults.

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