White privilege in America - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
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White privilege in America

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

I first arrived in America from the former Soviet Union on Feb. 1, 1978. An agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service greeted me at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He gave me $8 for travel expenses, a small booklet titled Introduction to a New Life, a packet titled United States Refugee Program, and wished me “Good Luck!”

On that same day, I traveled to Philadelphia, where my new life began as an immigrant in America. The concept of “white privilege” certainly was unknown in 1978, so I apparently underestimated how my skin color was going to make my transition to a new country so easy.

I arrived in the United States at the age of 25 with two suitcases and a guitar. Several days  later, I was shoveling snow by hand in Philadelphia for $25 per day and later did many odd jobs in order to pay for my living expenses.

Initially, my assimilation and integration into American society was rather complex and bumpy. Nevertheless, within a few years I managed to get my second MA degree in Anthropology from Brown University and was enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College.

Forty-two years after my arrival in the New World, I feel proud of my accomplishments as a father, an educator, scholar, author, social activist, and contributor to my community. My daughter was born in Juneau, Alaska, and I always was a good provider for her, including a college fund for her education.

Today, I enjoy my modest and comfortable retirement lifestyle in Juneau. My accomplishments in the United States are the results of my personal discipline, applied intelligence, hard work, and opportunities that this country made available to me.

My experience in the United States was in many ways similar to that of nearly 80 million legal immigrants who arrived in our country from different corners of the world from the 1950s to the present. Eventually, most immigrants succeeded in the New World.

I love our constitutional republic and will always defend and protect U.S. federalism and our constitutional freedoms.

I am very disturbed, however, that in today’s social environment in our country I am now considered a “white privileged” individual by “progressive activists” who know only the color of my skin. What exactly is my “white privilege?”

I and millions of other immigrants faced challenges not encountered by people born and raised here—learning English as a second language while competing for education and career, learning and adapting to a whole new culture, living half way around the world from my family and support network, being easily recognized as a “foreigner” and in many cases suffering discrimination because of it, just to name a few.

Few immigrants complain about such challenges, but they certainly do not experience them as privileges.  

I came to our country as a poor man, worked hard, educated myself in the excellent U.S. universities, paid my student loan in full, did not abuse any social programs, have been a loyal citizen to our country, contributed to our society in many different ways; and now I and many other Caucasian immigrants are supposed to be ashamed because we are white? I am offended by this racial slur—or stereotype.

 I feel very privileged to be a United States citizen, but it has nothing to do with being “white.” In fact, the “white privilege” accusation, which is based entirely on a person’s skin color, is clearly a racist accusation that has no legitimate place in a country founded on the idea of “equality for all” regardless of race and ethnicity.

Alexander Dolitsky is an author, anthropologist and historian who lives in Juneau. Born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union, he received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1977; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and attended the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. 

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  • My white privilege is that I get to get up every morning to go to work, and pay taxes which helps fund all the Freebies that those who don’t work get for free.

    • so true, keep it up the poor need your hard work !

  • There has been tremendous push-back against Dolitsky in Juneau on account of what he has written here. Suggesting personal responsibility is a worthwhile value is considered racist by many in Juneau apparently. Crediting “personal discipline, applied intelligence, hard work, and opportunities that this country made available to me,” as Dolitsky does here is an anathema to the Black Lives Matter crowd, the same people who were marching in Juneau wearing pink hats only a short time ago. Instead, the Juneau Left sees the government as determining who wins the race (remember Obama talking about that in 2012?), and in their view the government needs to re-balance the scales by taxing the privileged whites, paying people of color, releasing convicted black people from jail, etc. etc. To the Juneau Left a white person taking credit for any of their success in life is, at best, delusional. The Juneau Left will tell you that homelessness and addiction are diseases caused by white privilege. Public broadcasting and some legislators here often apologize for living on land stolen from original owners – another manifestation of white privilege apparently. The mantra extends into every corner of contemporary politics; climate change, the upcoming November elections, the pandemic and its economic impacts, education outcomes, reducing police, and the state operating budget. Just imagine if you are a long-time Juneau teacher or UAS professor espousing the National Socialist agenda long enough that your first tranches of students are now adults marching for BLM, and against white privilege. Finally, you believe you are about to be rewarded, but here comes Alexander Dolitsky, raised in the Soviet Union and after 40 years in the USA, mostly in Alaska, he writes about hard work, personal responsibility and discipline, and opportunities given him by the USA.

  • Mr. Dolitsky can be a guest in my home anytime.

  • Well said, sir.

  • Well said. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Did everyone catch that? Mr. Dolitsky earned a Masters’s degree in Russia and one year later was willing to work for 25 dollars a day shoveling snow in Philadelphia. I’d venture to say there are men today, no matter their skin color, with much less education that would be unwilling to do this kind of labor for 4x the price.
    It is privilege for us all to have you in our community.

  • Thank you! I also get up in the morning, put on the uniform of the day and head out to my job in order to maintain my house, children and lifestyle (such as it is.) I worked hard at getting an education, I speak passible American English in order to be heard, I am respectful to others and dress appropriately for the day and situation.
    My children go to school and I shop for bargains. I am white, not entitled and really done with the low life hipsters around me. Including the one trying to date my daughter…and you know who you are.
    Take that personal responsibility and all of that racism you imagine will magically disappear. Its not based on your skin color, its based on your behaviors.

  • Alexander is a shining example of what is right with US immigration policy. And also an example that the American Dream is alive and well. Thank you Mr. Dolitsky for taking the time to share your story.

    • maybe this short idea will help:

      the concept of white privilege doesnt mean the lives of white people are easy. many white people face other difficulties, because they are born poor, or because they immigrated and were forced to leave their lives and savings behind. there is no doubt that Dolitsky is a great example of how hard work has allowed him to overcome difficulties he faced. but one thing he did not face, despite facing difficulties as an immigrant, was difficulties because of the color of his skin.

      systemic racism exists, and the concept of white privilege exists not to make white people be paralyzed by shame, but recognize that they did not have to face some or all of the difficulties faced by people of color.

      as a half white person, i never had to be afraid of police officers. as a half white person, i never had to worry about watching movies or shows that contained characters of my skin color. as a half white person, i never had to worry about my face being online and employers finding that and choosing not to employ me as a result. as a half white person, i never had to worry about going to jury trial, where people of color are convincted at higher rates even controlling for other facts of the case. as a half white person, ive never had to worry about being stopped at the airport by TSA for “random checks” like my Indian mother and her family were. as a half white person, i never had to worry about the education i received, knowing that i could zone exempt without fear of being persecuted by school administrative staff at risk of losing my exemption.

      weve built a system that makes it easier (not necessarily easy!) to be white. thats all white privilege means. now, its our responsibility to share some of the generational wealth and power we as white people have built into the system with people of color. that means ensuring equal opportunities and eliminating systemic racism.

      • No doubt individual prejudice exists. But the “white privilege” crowd suggests that those of a different skin color are not prejudice. I have lived overseas 8 years and I know that is absolutely an unjustified belief. History documents it well. There have been so many regulatory and statutory changes in the past 50 years, including police departments, that any claims of “systemic racism” in the U.S. is nonsense.

        What you are describing is the standard twisted interpretation of statistics to create victim status at the hands of another group.

        Under the principles of the U.S. Constitution, there is no country on earth in history that has given more opportunity for personal growth, financial security, creativity, true democratic ideals, community participation for anyone of any color, background, education, religious belief, or gender than the United States of America.

        I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Dolitsky.

  • You are a True American

  • Well said Mr. Dolitsky!! A proud American ??

  • Good to see my old friend Alexander here at MRAK. He and I had many excellent if sometimes dark philosophical and political conversations punctuated by shots of his excellent Russian Vodka. Alexander typifies what immigration to America should be about; you bring skills and ambitions to America, and make a good life for yourself. You don’t come here to become a parasite and a Democrat fraudulent voter.

    • Thank you, Art. Yes, we had few shots of vodka and more in the past…..

  • People born here could learn a little from this guy.

  • There is no White privilege. It’s an invention of Democrats who hold a left winger, anti-Trump agenda. Whites have to compete with each other for just about everything. Many minorities of color actually get “special privileges” to circumvent the White competition that might otherwise exclude them.

    • Well said. An example: getting into law school. One must score high on their LSAT scores in order to become considered for admission. But now, some minorities with low scores get “special privileges” for acceptance into law school, and thereby bumping many better scoring Whites. Affirmative Action. This is minority privilege. Barak Obama was the first Affirmative Action POTUS.

      • Yes. And what about Obama’s college test scores? His birth certificate? Crickets. Never produced. Yet, the mainstream media and Democrats keep pestering Trump for his private tax returns.

  • Won’t be long before Juneau will be the next Portland. Good thing they have plenty of water available.

  • Thank you Alexander, for telling your story! You are to be commended, as a representation of the reality of what it takes to advance your standing and well being in our country! I for one, salute you for taking the high road, especially living in the swamp in Juneau!

  • Re:
    “There has been tremendous push-back against Dolitsky in Juneau on account of what he has written here. Suggesting personal responsibility is a worthwhile value is considered racist by many in Juneau apparently. ”

    This is the liberal, democrat mantra. They want to keep the poor and minorities down and dependent, rather than encouraging and helping Them become independent…….

    Mr. Dolitsky, I’m proud of you and your efforts to succeed in a new country. I’m sure it was uphill most of the time. All my best to you and your family and good health to you and your family.

    • Thank you, Marlin!

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