42 years after immigrating to the U.S., they consider me ‘white privileged’


    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 feel very privileged to be a United States citizen, but it has nothing to do with being “white.”

    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 an education and career, learning and adapting to a whole new culture, living halfway 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.

    The views expressed here are those of the author.

    Click here to donate to the Alaska Watchman.

    Alexander Dolitsky
    Alexander Dolitsky
    The writer was raised in the former Soviet Union before settling in the U.S. in 1978. He moved to Juneau in 1986 where he has taught Russian studies at the University of Alaska, Southeast. He is now director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center and has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography.

    Share this article

    Related articles


    1. Happy for you. My ancestors came other lands, some from rent a soldier and descendants of founders and signers of the sacred founding documents of this country for which they lost everything. Having arrived and naturalized they married honorably women of the land. We their offspring were denied opportunity maliciously maligned and worse. We have been lucky to marginally survive in the northland. You have observed the impedance we experienced and thanked God it wasn’t you and yours this time. Now Alaska finds itself being used by unscrupulous international heathens in abysmal places of government. So confused. No scruples, no morals, no way out or up. How will they continue.

    2. In the professional work force I have had the honor of meeting people from every background, including black Americans, black immigrants from Africa, other races of immigrants and natural born citizens, and one thing I have observed is how upstanding the characters are of people who have overcome various levels of adversity to achieve their dreams, big or small. I have always respected that and notice it the most among successful people of color. I am not blind. What I see around me in the professional realm is a lot of humble, hard working people who don’t want to be treated differently than anyone else. Its something to be admired. But the racist overtone we now live with is so pervasive, its like we almost can’t show admiration for people who inspire us. How dumb is that?

    3. Alexander, you said you “….will always defend and protect U.S. federalism.” I suggest being careful with that particular phrase. It is decentralized government, emphasizing the rights of state’s, local governments, and primarily individuals that has enabled our republic to avoid disintegration. As you know, centrally-controlled federalism is a dangerous development that we must reverse to preserve our republic. Other than that point, I must say, your story is very compelling and spiritually uplifting. Your immigration was a very positive contribution to our republic.

    4. With all the studies, and concerns of daily number of cases of COVID 19; how come their isn’t a total number of people who have already had the Virus. Now with all the social concerns shown with who is, or isn’t going to get the Vaccine. Why isn’t it mentioned the percent of people who already have natural immunity built by already having survived it. While pushing people who already survived the Virus to get a Vaccine seems Crazy??

    Leave a reply

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here


    Alaska Watchman relies on the generous support of our readers. All donations go directly to supporting and expanding our news coverage. Please consider becoming a regular supporter.

    Select a Donation Option (USD)

    Enter Donation Amount (USD)


    Personal Info

    Donation Total: $100.00

    Stay Informed

    Receive breaking stories and analysis from the Alaska Watchman directly to your inbox for free.

    No spam ever. Guaranteed.

    Latest articles

    News tips