It's a privilege to be me.
When U.S. CATHOLIC interviewed the self-described "white Catholic racist theologian" Jon Nilson ("Racist like me," pages 24-28), I learned that the G.I. Bill, which partially funded my dad's M.B.A., had restrictions. Had my dad been black, he might not have earned the degree that helped him make the money that paid for my education. I am truly privileged.
During Nilson's interview, we struggled with the question of what to do with "white privilege." One answer, it turns out, was underneath our noses the whole time, in the very pages of this magazine. This month's articles remind us Catholics to prepare the way of the Lord in this season of Advent by working for justice.
The reality of privilege makes us take another look at the Christmas story and our holiday traditions. Timothy Matovina learns that we, like Christ, are all migrants by reading the birth story though the eyes of immigrants in "Following yonder star" (pages 29-31). Hurricane Katrina refugees showed Lupe Ruiz-Flores a new meaning of Las Posadas, she explains in Practicing Catholic, "Gimme shelter" (page 48). Alice Camille tells us in Testaments ("Have a very moral Christmas," pages 39-41) that our question is, in fact, the same as the one asked by John the Baptist's followers: "What should we do?" The Catholic response, she explains, is to work for the common good and share our wealth.
This message is echoed in the Reader Survey, "What do you get from giving?" (pages 18-22). In compiling the survey I read countless responses from readers saying they give out of gratefulness for all of God's gifts--their privileges, in other words. Warren Buffett, I was interested to learn, also recognizes his privilege: His wealth comes from no "special virtues of mine," he says. So rather than give all his money to his children who, he told Fortune magazine, already have "a gigantic headstart in a society that aspires to be a meritocracy," he hopes to level the playing field by giving his wealth away.
Not all the problems with race and privilege can be solved with money (even Warren Buffett's), but Catholics' sincere desire to right the wrongs of society reflects well on our faith. While it may be difficult to be Catholic sometimes, newcomers to our religion remind us of all that is good in our faith, as we see in Leslie Scanlon's cover story, "Trading spaces: The moving experience of converts" (pages 12-17).
My dad has given me many gifts in my life, including my Catholicism. And for that, I am truly privileged.
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|Title Annotation:||editors' note|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2006|
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