A disorganized and possibly rambling continuation of my thoughts on my privileged stupidity when it comes to money: how did I get this way?

I try to be fairly open about the fact that I come from a very privileged family. For starters: I'm white, started out as Catholic, and my family has a lot of money. My dad is an executive for start-up biotech companies, which means he does very well financially. My mother works very part time and doesn't make much; she could afford to make that choice. Both of my parents are college educated. They both came from upper-middle-class white families. My background is a continuation of theirs.

We did not talk about money in my family when I was growing up. Apparently, it's partly because my father really hates to. I think it's a combination of his being proud of how much he makes and wanting to spend it on his wife and children (quite the patriarchal sentiment, that) and feeling awkward about being richer than most people and living in luxury. Not ridiculous luxury, but luxury nonetheless. There's a nice big dose of white, wealthy guilt in my family and the way it manifests itself is that we DO NOT talk about money.

My dad hands his credit card to waiters at restaurants before they bring him the check, and he just signs it. My mother doesn't check the price tags of things we buy at the grocery store or jeans at the mall. I don't know how much money my dad makes in a year, or in a month, or in a week, or in an hour. I don't know how much our mortgage costs. I don't know how much our food costs. Off the top of my head, I don't even know how much this computer cost.

Maybe sharing all of this is just rubbing the privilege in people's faces, and I shouldn't. I guess my point, though, is that things really shouldn't be this way. One of the things about privilege is that it allows you not to be aware of things like money or race or gender or sexuality.

If you're white, that's supposedly the default race and most white people don't even have to think about their race until they're confronted with a minority person who's bringing it up. I think white people who give in to this option of ignorance are socially irresponsible. I think financially privileged people who give in to the option of ignorance about money are socially irresponsible.

I hate that my parents didn't talk about money just because we didn't have to talk about it. Just because we didn't need to discuss what we couldn't afford or what we needed to miss out on due to lack of funds doesn't mean we shouldn't have been talking about what we could afford and how special that was. It's something I needed to be aware of.

Yes, I heard from time to time that we were lucky people and that we shouldn't take it for granted, but the taking for granted was happening on a daily basis and that's a much stronger message.

I probably won't ever be truly poor. I won't know what that's like. I don't want to let that stop me from feeling empathy for people who are poor or from appreciating what I have. I don't want to let it spoil me, which it seems in part to have done. I don't want it to keep me from being a good, responsible person. I don't want it to stop me from helping people.

So I've got to figure this shit out.


erotictoys said...

i think it pays to be cautious too...

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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