This holiday season marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the Christmas movie Home Alone. The film fascinated a generation of latchkey children and their baby boomer parents with its portrayal of eight-year-old Kevin McCallister, who not only survives while his family is out of the country but anchors them when they forget the real meaning of Christmas. It spent four weeks at no. 1 in box office sales and grossed nearly $300 million in the United States. It also sparked a debate over the authority of parents.
Like many others, I have lived the last few weeks from one devastating news event to the next, aching for the people lost and left hurting from mass shootings, trying to imagine myself into the shoes of refugees and those caught in the Syrian War, letting the pain of Paris, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, and the U.S. presidential campaign compound my sense of the world’s terrors, wondering if I can do something to stop the madness.
But while these thoughts have been in my head, I encountered, or re-encountered, a powerful song.
White privilege is knowing that when you are shopping alone you won’t be followed or harassed, says columnist Christine Emba. It means that when you buy a house in a nice neighborhood, you can expect your neighbors to be nice or neutral, not hostile toward you. “It’s the level of societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender, or other factors,” says Emba. “It makes life smoother, but it’s something you would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away—or unless it had never applied to you in the first place” (Washington Post, January 16).