Friday, November 02, 2007

what privilege do you have?

From Jeanne, who often rocks my world

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college

Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

Had more than 500 books in your childhood home (I don't know, I think so?)
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Had to take out less than $5000 in student loans in order to go to college
Didn't need student loans to go to college out of high school
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
(a YMCA one, but still)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels (occasionally, when I was young)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 (I adored hand-me-downs, but I didn't need them)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (in order to wangle the scholarship that allowed me to go to college without student loans)
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
(true, but we also couldn't always pay them)

Wow, I figured I'd have a lot bolded, but this is particularly a lot.


Of course this list is flawed, or at least incomplete.

Someone else somewhere mentioned that it doesn't ask if you went to, or finished college, if you worked your ass off not to have college loans, or took 8 years to do it cause you were working full time...

I went to a private (Friends) high school, but in grade 4-5 I went to public school, where my compatriots were much richer, one of my classmates was the FDR's granddaughter. Bill and Hilary Clinton bought a house in that suburb when they went to New York. So if I'd graduated from that public high school, would I have less privilege? I don't think so. The most working class school I went to was Catholic, not public. I'm not sure if that would have been "private" or not.

Also, in my experience having a tv or phone in your room was a status symbol of much greater interest to my working class friends. I'm pretty sure my best friend, who was clearly more "working class" than me had both of these well before I did. She had a greater awareness of them as status symbols, and to some extent it was easier for her family to provide those than, say, a college fund.

Also, lots of my wealthier friends had hand me down cars. Getting your parent's 4 year old audi when they get a new one certainly isn't less privileged than getting a 10 year old junker that's new to your family cause your parents aren't done with their 10 year old junker yet :)

And original art. My grandma's house had tons of stuff that she'd made, perhaps falling in the category of crafts ratehr than art, but how do we count that? we had *my* original art, from middle school art classe, on the walls :)

Which actually reminds me of a conversation I had with Jeanne about grade school classes. I left my main room for art, gym, music, and I think science in grade school. I think she said they didn't leave for any of those. That's a difference I had no clue about, I thought all kids did that. Though I know those programs are getting gobbled up in public schools these days, I thought they were alive and well everywhere in the 70s.

Oh, PS, I'm not tagging anyone, but I'd love to see lots of people do this.

3 comments:

Plain Foolish said...

Actually, it's wierd. As I look at this list, what it makes me think of is how different the list would be if it took into account where I come from. Of course I lived in single family housing - there aren't a lot of apartment buildings in the country. Now, for part of my childhood, that meant a singlewide with a stoop made out of concrete blocks, but we didn't have another family in there with us.

And yes, when I was about 14, I got my own room - a converted utility room, because I'd had enough of being kicked by my sister in her sleep, and had slept first on the couch, and then on the back porch.

Similarly, of course we had original art in our home. We had hand crocheted doilies and tp cozies (yes, the kind made from dolls, with big skirts out of cheap yarn - the kind people make fun of). We had a bit of slate with some tole painting on it. We had quilts and afghans that the women of my family, and sometimes family friends had made. We had a turned wooden stand on the kitchen counter that held our paper towels. Other folks we knew had paintings - often landscapes, right over the couch.

As for the people like me in the media, well, which ones? The Beverly Hillbillies? The goodhearted folks in "Nell"? Or maybe the guys from "Deliverance"?

As for our heating bills, I know exactly how much they were - we didn't have them, because we heated our house with natural gas, and let the utility folks have a right of way over our land in return for an unmetered line straight to our house from the well. We knew to leave the orange pipe well alone and to fetch an adult if it looked like anything had been messing with it. And we also had wood for the living room, because natural gas demand is high in winter. We'd go out after my dad had gone through our woods, culling a couple trees for heat with the chainsaw, and help him load the firewood onto the wagon that the tractor pulled.

Amanda said...

I'll do it tomorrow....it's fascinating. Interesting to think that growing up sometimes desperately poor in a family with twelve kids, I was still very privileged.

Some of them are weird for me too...like, I flew on a plane once as a kid, but we were immigrating. Does that count? I grew up in Canada where we heated with wood. I didn't know what the "bill" was, but I was part of the manpower, by age 11, that cut and hauled it, and I remember weeks where we couldn't afford a new load of hardwood and we slept in our snowsuits. So? I had one attempt at ballet lessons that were aborted before age 6 and then an attempt at piano lessons that lasted about 3 months before being similarly financially aborted three months later. Does that count?

I also think "your parents bought you a car at all" should be on there.

These lists, or rather, the public responses to them, are totally fascinating sociologically. Nobody (obviously including myself) is able to answer them without commentary and most are afraid they'll score too "high" as if scoring a lower privilege ratio was an indication of moral worth. I have some friends who could check off every single one of these, and their childhoods were not particularly exceptional or "Beverly Hills".

Hmm. People like me in the media were all in films from like "1939" called "cheaper by the dozen.":)

Canine Diamond said...

Slow out of the blocks here:

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers--> How would I even know this? As far as I know, I was no-higher-than-the-same (some of them were my classmates' parents), but I didn't know most of them that well.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
(Probably.)
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. (Two: Music and horseback riding.)
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively. (No. The ones that look like me are portrayed as losers.)
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18 (but if I used it, I was toast. Emergencies only. "Emergencies" did not mean "jonesing for pizza", either.)
Had to take out less than $5000 in student loans in order to go to college. (Ha ha!)
Didn't need student loans to go to college out of high school. (Double Ha ha!)
Went to a private high school.
Went to summer camp (One week at YMCA. Worst week of my life.)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (Motels, rather, and not routinely.)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. (No new clothes before I was about 10. Some new clothes after but we didn't replace stuff very often.)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. (My parents never bought me a car. My first car was a hand-me-down from them. They bought it from my grandmother.)
There was original art in your house when you were a child. (But only because my grandparents painted. We didn't buy art.)
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18. (Still don't.)
You and your family lived in a single family house. (Sometimes.)
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
You had your own room as a child. (Later on I did.)
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course.
Had your own TV in your room in high school.
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College.
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. (Once, when we moved.)
Went on a cruise with your family.
Went on more than one cruise with your family.
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (I didn't know the numbers but I knew it was expensive and we kept the house cold because of that.)

I'm with Elizabeth--the low-income areas where I lived did not have apartment buildings. Just because you rent a tract house in the airport flight path doesn't mean you have money. You live there because people who have money don't want to.