Being Privileged


I must give credit to two sources for this list: first, the blog where I saw it, Faraday’s Cage, and second, the blog where she saw it, Exponential Book. Like both of them, I am adding my answers, in italics.

1. Father went to college? No, 8th grade graduate.

2. Father finished college? No.

3. Mother went to college? No, completed half of 8th grade and then turned fourteen, so she had to quit school to get a job.

4. Mother finished college? No.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor? No.

6. Were you the same or higher class than your high school teachers? Lower class.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home? No. But I read every book in the house at least fifty times.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home? No.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent? No.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18? No.

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18? No.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively? Yes, mostly.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18? Heavens, no.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs? No, scholarships and grants and a small loan paid for it, thanks to Senator Pell.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs? No. I paid off the small loan over ten years after graduating.

16. Went to a private high school? No.

17. Went to summer camp? No. but from age sixteen through age nineteen, I worked at a summer camp.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18? No.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels? My family never went on a vacation.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18? No. I wore lots of hand-me-downs, but I did have new clothes for most special occasions.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them? No. I learned to drive at age twenty-five, and I bought my own car with money I saved from working.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child? No, unless you count Hungarian embroidery.

23. You and your family lived in a single family house? No, we lived in the projects.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home? No.

25. You had your own room as a child? After age five, yes. Before that I shared a bed with my teen-aged sister. I got the bed to myself when she went to college.

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18? Amazingly, I got a blue princess phone in my room at age sixteen.

27. Participated in a college entrance exam (e.g.. SAT/ACT) prep course? Heavens, no. I don’t think they existed in the 1970s.

28. Had your own TV in your room? No.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College? No. I didn’t even know what those things were when I was that age.

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16? Yes, flew once, to visit my sister.

31. Went on a cruise with your family? Goodness, no.

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family? No.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up? No.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family? Yes.

**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 State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you please acknowledge their copyright.

This questionnaire made me think a lot about what being privileged really means. I feel that my childhood was one of privilege because my parents modeled a good marriage, loved me, gave me lots of attention, and made our home a very comfortable and secure place. My mother passed on her love of learning and respect for education to all of her children, as well as her love of music and language.

Many children now have a lot of the material privileges listed here, although my child does not. I’m not saying that taking your children on a cruise is bad, and I do believe that taking them to art museums is good, if they want to go. But really, what makes us see ourselves as privileged? I think that the lack of some of the things listed in the questionnaire, such as a car at age eighteen, improved my character. And not having many books in the house simply meant that I became familiar with the library at an early age.

Were you privileged?
Are your children privileged?
Why?
It’s something worth thinking about.

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