Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How privileged are you?

I find this is pretty poor taste, and yet I feel compelled to answer it... it's a "how privileged are you?" test, and I have bolded the true statements. The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
Does it matter if it was when I was in middle school?
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician or professor
Am I forgetting anyone?
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
What does this even mean?
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
I assume this is definitely true.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
Piano was the longest-lasting one but there were some brief attempts at other stuff.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Well, unless you count the mocking in "Stuff White People Like" or the Obama "elitism" bullshit...
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
No! God bless scholarships.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
Assuming "GATE" camp didn't count.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
I mean, not like the Four Seasons.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
Nah, but this year I bought a hand-me-down, but for really cheap, so it almost counts?
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
It was my grandma's old one and it was pretty retro and kick-ass. But I suspect there is a generational difference in answering these questions. Lots more TVs sitting around when I was a kid.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
Hell, I don't own one now!
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
Man, apparently privilege is synonymous with "artsy."
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
Who isn't? I just knew Dad wanted us to turn off the lights when we weren't using them. Something I still am not always sure my roommate knows.

I got 20 out of 34. I will say that I think that I was very privileged growing up because my family cared a lot about arts and education and about me and my sister getting the most out of every opportunity. So even if we couldn't really afford stuff, we made it work. At least, that's my perspective on the whole thing. What's interesting to me is thinking that in comparison to so many kids I knew in college, I never really thought of myself as super privileged. I mean, these kids went to Disneyworld every year, their parents were neurosurgeons or what have you, they had gone on trips to Europe with their families instead of with their high schools, and my parents just finally got to Europe while I was there studying abroad. I feel really lucky, I guess I should say, that I got all the things I got. Anyway, this is a much bigger subject than this blog can really get into, and I feel somewhat touchier about it, even though it's actually a major issue for me. I can't count the number of times people in school assumed I was a trust-funder or that my parents were lawyers or something, maybe because I was white or maybe just because I went to Stanford. And it always bugged me a lot, because I felt like people didn't get that you could be smart and not have some legacy going back generations at some Ivy League school. That you could be a good person and not make a lot of money. I don't think anyone ever meant it that way, except for a rare one or two, but it always got under my skin, so these issues of "privilege" are important to me. Hence my posting this survey despite my cringiness about it.


1 comment:

Lisbeth said...

"Had more than 500 books in your childhood home." We had the public library! and we used it all the time. We also had/have extended family who cared about literature and movies and music and other arts and who took you cool places.

You played in the snow before you graduated from high school. The first time I played in snow, I was practically a grown-up, in my twenties, anyway. And you had birthday parties and a dad who was home in the afternoons (when your mom was belatedly finishing college) so friends could come over after school.

Your mom even played the hokey-pokey to set a good example about participating (despite a heartfelt urge to run for the exit). So if you are overly tolerant of "dorky" things, you know who to blame.

It's more about resourcefulness than "privilege." Sorry if I sound self-congratulatory, but those were good times. Hectic and happy.