Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Privelege Meme

Yeah, I am a sucker for a meme, but this one made me do some thinking.
One of the things I think about is my complete inability to do yes or no answers.

This meme is from “What Privileges Do You Have?”, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois Indiana State University.
Done in a classroom setting, students would line up and take one step forward for every statement that is true.

I have made bold those which I answer yes.

1. Father went to college: Nope. Father graduated in the middle of the Great Depression. He got accepted but his parents couldn’t come up with the cost- a whopping $200. He got sent to the CCC.

2. Father finished college: Nope.

3. Mother went to college: Nope. She graduated during the Depression, too.

4. Mother finished college: Nope. She went to work as a cook as soon as she graduated high school, and counted herself lucky.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. Not first degree, and none of my parents’ generation. Two of my cousins- the only two families that moved away from our neighborhood- did become professors. My cousin is a lawyer and my cousin’s daughter is an MD. I am a PharmD and dammit, that is no small potatoes!

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers: hard to tell- they were nuns. I guess that made them as poor as the rest of us!

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home: Definitely. And 49 of them were mine!

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. No, but I sure had more than 500 in the home I raised my kids in. I’m pretty sure I have nearly that many now; 5 bookcases full.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent: Nope- I could read by age 3 so I basically read to myself.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18: I had piano lessons for one year. It was a very good year.

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. Nope. My mom put me in dance lessons when I was 6. I loved it until I discovered I was expected to dance on stage in a recital. I flatly refused and she never forgave me. The only reason I got piano lessons was the nun spoke to her directly about my musical talent and kind of bullied her into it.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively: I don’t think any people like me are in the media.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. No. I think I was twenty-six with two or three kids.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs: Nope. I got an allowance of ten dollars a week for bus fare. I worked 3 jobs and it took me 5 years to get my BA. And they wondered why I ended up in a hospital.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs: Goose egg.

16. Went to a private high school. Yup- my parents felt that their friends who went to Catholic school had a huge advantage, so they scraped to send us to convent school. Wish they spent what they wasted on college!

17. Went to summer camp: Nope.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18: Nope. But I never would have needed one.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. We took a road trip once & stayed in a cabin in the Berkshires, but my parents had a fight so we came home the next day. When I was a teen, they were fond of a resort place in New Hampshire and we went once a year.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. With two older sisters? I think not.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. Not on this planet.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. Nope. My mother has this thing about fake wood and fake wrought iron…We had wallpaper that looked like wood, vinyl floors that looked like wood, and when she discovered sheet paneling, she went incredibly overboard. She was given her first original art by my sister’s boyfriend when I was 20. (He is now well-known and it’s worth a lot!) I bought her two paintings by a local artist that she is very fond of. But her idea of art involves plastic that looks like wrought iron. And Hummels.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house. Hhhhmmm. Kinda sorta not really. We lived in a duplex and my grandparents and uncle lived upstairs. After Pappy died and my uncle married, my parents had the house opened up and we moved our bedrooms upstairs when I was 8.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home. They bought my grandmother out, so I guess yes.

25. You had your own room as a child. No. At first all three of us were in one double bed. Then I shared a room with my sister (twin beds made of imported Vermont maple as my mom used to say).

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. Nope. I’ve only had a phone in my room since I bought my current little farmhouse in 2002.

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. Nope. I signed up for the SAT and took it. I counted myself lucky, since my poor sister was placed in a city 40 miles away- my mom dropped her off and left her with a few bucks and instructions to find her own way home. No wonder we’re so self-sufficient.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school: Nope. I would not have wanted one. I could never understand why my family would sit like zombies for hours. I was too nudgie and TV bored me so easily.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college: Jeez, who made this thing up? I barely managed to pay for college, and I had to put grad school off because I couldn’t afford it!

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16: Actually, I flew with my family to Ontario to visit my great-uncle Paddy when I was 4. My sisters promptly came down with German measles and were quarantined, so I got to spend my entire vacation with Nana and Uncle Paddy being pampered and adored and spreading rubella through Port Colbourne (I got it when we came back!).

31. Went on a cruise with your family: Nope. But I did get to visit my daughter on her cruise ship…

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family: Nope.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up: Nope. But mom insisted I go to Bingo at the parish, which I hated. I discovered museums at age 16 and became a museum-a-holic. I had memberships when my kids were little.

34. If you had a computer at home. They didn't even have them in businesses when I was young!

35. If you had your own computer at home. See above.

36. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family: Nope. Every time the bill came in, BOTH parents griped.

37. If you have been to Europe. I scraped and saved enough to visit my family in London and Dublin and got bombed by the IRA. But it was not given to me to go.

38. If you had your own cell phone in High School. They didn’t HAVE cell phones when I was in high school. Phones still involved cords and were usually black.

When the questions have all been asked, the following instructions are given:
“Now everyone recognize that you are at the same place academically. Everyone turn around. Everyone has permission to talk. No one has permission to accuse any one or any group of anything. Everyone must use “I” statements.

Note that the people on one end of the room had to work harder to be here today than the people at the other end of the room. Some of you had lives of more privilege than others. There is no one to blame, it is just the way it is. Some have privilege and some don’t.”

Anfa’s score is a whopping TEN/36. I guess I flunk Privelege 101.
Whatever. If there's an Experience 101, I passed that with flying colours long, long ago.

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