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My White Privilege and an Apology for Thanksgiving

white privilegeI was born into white privilege, although no one was talking about it back then.

As I grew up I learned that the Pilgrims and “Indians” as we said back then, celebrated the first Thanksgiving because the natives taught the newly arrived folks how to farm and catch food.

The scene was always portrayed as a friendly happening and never once was the exploitation, killing, disrespect and theft of property and language by those with European roots who “settled” much of our country. See Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong.

Nor has our countries’ land-theft from Mexico gotten much play.

Which is s somber, but perhaps a bit more mindful, way to introduce my transitional gratitude list.

108 Things I’m grateful for

  1. I am grateful for a video from Jane Elliot because it puts the whole white privilege into perspective for me.
  2. And yes, I’m grateful I was born white – I really get that it’s made things easier for me and still does. (Yes, it pains me to admit that…)
  3. I am grateful for my Master Mind group of four very white women who under the urging of one member have spent at least six weeks really looking how this country’s history of slavery created much of our wealth even today. of black slaves and their help building this country, including much of it’s wealth.  The article in The Atlantic magazine Slavery Made America discusses this at some length.
  4. I’m grateful to live in coastal southern California.
  5. I’m grateful to the original settlers here in San Diego County. The Chronology of the Indigenous Peoples of San Diego County gives a look at some of our heritage here.
  6. I am grateful  Alternet which published Tal Fortgang, The ‘I’ll Never Apologize for My White Privilege’ Guy, Is Basically Most of White America which confirms my white privilege while giving me some idea of how those who deny it think.
  7. I’m grateful for Sweetwater Zen Center where I live, learn and practice.
  8. I’m grateful for the almost 100 year old cottage I live in.
  9. I’m grateful for the gardens that we have at SWZC.
  10. I’m grateful for the fresh water we have to water the gardens.
  11. Fresh, clean water available from several taps in my home is another thing I’m grateful for.
  12. I am grateful for the incredibly complicated system that brings San Diego it’s water – right in the middle of a  desert.
  13. I think hot water is one of God’s finest inventions – particularly when I do the dishes and take a shower.
  14. I’m grateful for the instant hot water heater that keeps me from fearing running out of hot water.
  15. I’m oh so grateful for flush toilets.
  16. Which means I’m grateful for the sewer system.
  17. I’m grateful for the people who pick up our trash – if only we can find ways to reduce it.
  18. I’m grateful for electricity.
  19. I’m grateful for the electric grid.
  20. I’m grateful that the San Onofre Nuclear power plant is shut down.
  21. I’m grateful for the system that fuels my gas stove and heater.
  22. I’m grateful for my three kids.
  23. I’m grateful for my kids’ spouses.
  24. I’m grateful for my four grand kids.
  25. I’m grateful for the network of roads and highways and streets that allow me to drive so many places.
  26. I’m grateful for the train that takes me north so I don’t have to drive on the freeway.
  27. I’m grateful for my car .
  28. I’m grateful for my car’s tires.
  29. I’m grateful for the gasoline that arrives at several near by service stations.
  30. I’m grateful for my mobile mechanic.
  31. I’m grateful for my mobile vet.
  32. I’m grateful for the two cats that live with me.
  33. I’m grateful for my computer.
  34. I’m even grateful for spell check on my computer.
  35. I’m grateful for my smart phone even though it’s auto correction drives me crazy.
  36. I’m grateful for my Kindle.
  37. I’m grateful for my iPad.
  38. I’m grateful for my stove.
  39. I’m grateful for my kitchen sinks.
  40. I’m grateful for my ‘fridge and it’s freezer too.
  41. I’m grateful for the original wood floors that look so good in my cottage.
  42. I’m grateful for the big rug in the living room.
  43. I’m grateful for my roommate who pays his rent on time.
  44. I’m grateful for Cait.
  45. I’m grateful for Carol.
  46. I’m grateful for Claudia.
  47. I’m grateful for the other Claudia.
  48. I’m grateful for Joanne.
  49. I’m grateful for Seisen.
  50. For Herb.
  51. For Rosie.
  52. For Ando.
  53. For Doshin.
  54. For Ale’.
  55. For Jennifer.
  56. For Zoe.
  57. For Jody.
  58. For Wednesday the dog.
  59. For Bella the dog
  60. For Laura.
  61. For Jimmy.
  62. For Jay.
  63. For Hans Peter.
  64. For Nichellie.
  65. For Amalia.
  66. For Gordon.
  67. For Ellie.
  68. For Trish.
  69. For Dwight.
  70. For Lori.
  71. For Cathy.
  72. For Jenn.
  73. For Sharon.
  74. For Nickie.
  75. For David.
  76. For John.
  77. Hanna.
  78. Paula.
  79. Ashley.
  80. Cheryl.
  81. Anna.
  82. Chris.
  83. Rob.
  84. Rob.
  85. Liz.
  86. Hector.
  87. Trader Joe’s.
  88. Smart & Final.
  89. Blue Host.
  90. WordPress.
  91. My land line.
  92. Ceiling fans.
  93. Chanting.
  94. Kim.
  95. Ron.
  96. The yurt zendo.
  97. The original zendo.
  98. The dharma.
  99. Teachers of the dharma.
  100. Cafe Moto.
  101. Moto coffee.
  102. Twigs on Park.
  103. Casa del Taco.
  104. Libraries and librarians.
  105. The Trolly.
  106. Heating pads.
  107. My desk.
  108. Every single one of my readers known to me and unknown to me.

There you have it… my 108 things I’m grateful for this year. And yes, I do want to apologize for my white privilege as well as for my long-term misunderstanding of Thanksgiving, and so I do. I am truly sorry.

Write well and often,


{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Geo, I think it was https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFQkLp5u-No – and I’ve made the change in the post… thanks a ton for surfacing the error or change.

  • Geo, I think it was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFQkLp5u-No

  • Geo M

    Hey Anne, it looks like the link to the Jane Elliott video is a link to a Facebook post that’s not publicly viewable. Do you know the title of the video? There may be a publicly viewable version somewhere.


  • Thanks!

  • I am grateful for this piece; if we all share our frailties and leaps into knowledge it builds and helps and changes the hearts.

  • You’re more than welcome.

  • Thanks Sue.

  • Sue Chehrenegar

    I am also grateful for my white privilege. In 1969, when I found that I had a chronic medical condition there was no Obama Care. I was lucky enough to have a father that was willing to pay extra, so that I could get a private room in the hospital.

    Later, when I had to look for work, I began to feel sorry for myself. Then one day, when I went to a job fair, I saw an African American man, a man that was blind. I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

  • Wonderful, wonderful post. I am also white; grew up with privilege to a certain extent and prejudice. In 1966 I became a member of the Baha’i Faith and learned about the oneness of mankind.

    Now at the present time after 50 years of work in the racial justice field, I belong to Coming to the Table, or Gather at the Table,
    whites and blacks coming together (great integrity and love); there is so much needed as far as race awareness and I loved your post. For me, I will always have to be aware of every irregulation from myself re race until my last breath, but my life is deeply filled with friendships and closeness to many in the African-American community. It is not as if I am so terrific but that I consciously work on this pithy and trouble-filled issue. It is a disgrace; and whites have to become more aware; and you can never fill up with too much awareness. Thank you so much for your post, love, esther bradley-detally

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