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A matter of Privilege-

I grew up differently from everyone else I knew, my parents divorced when I was 4, and my brother and I lived with married relatives, (grandparents for a very short amount of time) for the next 5ish years until our father finally got temporary custody of us, and 2 years later permanant; 9 schools in 5 states; a lot of new people, frequently. It was the 70's, then the 80's, nobody knew about privilege and if they did it certainly wasn't acknowledged or talked about.


We were poor, maybe. Our power or phone was off at least once a year, we may have not had heating oil all of the time, we didn't have a television and therefore no need for cable. Vehicles were often broken down, and we were evicted 3 times at least. But my brother and I (and later a younger brother too) graduated from a private school, we read a lot of books, we went to orchestra and symphony performances, we listened to the opera on Saturday afternoon on public radio, went fishing, camping, and were shown an excellent work ethic, not financial savvy, but what we took away was what not to do, and that in itself is a pretty good lesson.


But all of that being said, we had privilege. We were white, in fairly wealthy communities. My father made friends easily, and these friends took us children into their homes, gave us birthday parties, bought us school clothes, and made sure our cupboard wasn't empty. My father remarried a younger woman, who worked hard and long hours, she made clothing for her and I, learned to cook and brought other cultural opportunities into our lives, including more musical genres. When I earned my drivers license, the first week of my senior year of high school, my parents had a car for me to use to be able to get to school and work, a car I didn't have to spend any more than maintenance and gas for the next 11 months. This is all privilege.


Being a female becoming an adult in the age of equal rights and affirmative action, especially in blue and green states, what a time of immense privilege. What I would like to say is that all of this privilege I appreciated, but no, I didn't even know to acknowledge this until many years later. In my 40's I got not 1, but 2 commercial loans for investment properties in my name only and even with having to prove myself a little more than a man may have had to, I finally became aware of the privilege I had been allotted, for my entire life.


So all of this brings me to Chevrolet. This company has an amazing advertising firm. They make tearjerking memorable end of the year commercials. In 2022 the holiday ad featured a family that lived somewhere that looked like Detroit or Chicago, I apologize as neither of these cities I have been to for any length of time, but this is where it appeared to be in the commercial to me. This family had the same one Chevrolet for their entire lifetime, through love, and some tragic losses. An older woman is in the Chevrolet and it won't start in the parking lot of a grocery store. Short version, a kind male neighbor fixes the car and brings it and all of the memories back to her.


The 2023 ad starts with a lovely house full of family and an elderly woman in a wingback chair alone, her granddaughter talks to her and they go out to a garage where a pristine Chevrolet pickup is under a tarp, she starts it and drives around town taking her grandmother down memory lane and prompting her to remember where she was and what activity was going on at home. During the drive all of the newer vehicles were around the town.


At first glance these are seemingly just heartfelt ads, but maybe there is more behind these. You see, all of the people in the first commercial, the woman that had the same car for 40-50 year, the neighbor and everyone else is black, and the large bustling multi generational family that had multiple vehicles, including a 50+ year old truck in a garage are white, this is what I observed and it started to bother me, and then I got a little angry. Why does it bother me so much? Because of the privilege exhibited in the 2023 ad campaign, and that privilege to Chevrolet seems to be only for white people in the suburbs.


So now its been a few weeks and my anger is now just simmering frustration. Frustration that more than one major corporation in this country can still be so blatantly racist, perhaps, because the 3 elderly women in the also tearjerking Amazon "sled" commercial are all white too. Only white people have the ability to order off the internet extra things for joy alone? And if I have only observed two obvious (to me) incidents how many more are out there? Flaunting privilege and giving putting people in categories of who can and who can't have the same opportunities or privilege.


So now that I have put this out there, what are your thoughts?


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