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that privilege meme

Swiped from everybody

Acknowledgment to http://quakerclass.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-privilege-do-you-have.html. The list is based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University.

You know, for me it will be more efficient just to include the items that didn't apply and/or have complicated answers.

* Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Technically speaking, possibly not—mom was big on getting rid of stuff we weren't using. But I had access to all the books I wanted.

* The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Insofar as I am white, yes. Insofar as I was/am fat and a geeky dresser, no. And I might argue that women and girls in general were not portrayed positively in the media in the 60s and 70s.

* Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
This trend must have come along after my time. None of my peers did, as far as I know.

* Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
I worked in the summers and that paid for a little bit.

* Had a private tutor before you turned 18
I wonder if these came along after my time, too. I mean, I know they existed before, but they seem more common now.

* Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
The clothing my mother bought me was bought new. I bought some of my own clothing at thrift stores, but that was my choice, not a necessity.

* Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
I got hand-me-down cars, but my dad worked at GM and was required to buy a GM car every year. So the hand-me-down cars I had were almost new.

* Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
Parents didn't approve of the idea, I guess. Actually, despite all the time I spent on the phone just like most teenagers, I think it never even occurred to me that I might want a phone in my room.

* Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
After my time?

* Had your own TV in your room in High School
See the bit about the phone in my room.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how many people I see responding with dismay that they score as "highly privileged" on this test, as if that meant there was something wrong with them. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. It just means you were given some of your opportunities and resources, and didn't start from zero. It's important to be aware of that.


( 59 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
The big problem I have with this quiz is it covers class privilege quite extensively, but only has one line devoted to other kinds of privilege - people portrayed in the media are portrayed positively. Class privilege and sometimes being able to pass as white are the only two privileges I have. I really appreciate those privileges. And class privilege can help with a lot of other disadvantages. However it doesn't take away my daily pain or struggles with bureaucracy just to get what I and my son need to live. The main reason I'm not working (a class privilege it's true but also a disadvantage for me personally and I'm not talking about money) is that I don't have the time to work and deal with the bureaucracy. The employment figures for people with disabilities are appalling. Below 50% and I can see why. If I didn't have class privilege, I'd be on welfare, and that is the honest truth.
Dec. 31st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)

The authors/creators label this as "A Social Class Awareness Experience" and are therefore very up-front with the scope of the information revealed/focused on. I agree that there are more aspects of identity and privilege and oppression that can be illuminated by these things. But I was actually grateful to see one thing tackled at a time.

(no subject) - waterowl - Dec. 31st, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Dec. 31st, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dreamalynn - Jan. 1st, 2008 03:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - waterowl - Jan. 1st, 2008 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 31st, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
I grew up very privileged but the quiz didn't cover most of my privileges. Stuff like intelligence which was recognised and encouraged, accent, the peculiarly useful mother I had, being given the ability to make and sell my own crafts as part of a necessary contribution to household finances, growing up bilingual - the quiz mainly covered financial privilege, not class privilege. Although the two are connected, they're really not the same at all.
Dec. 31st, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
I was just thinking somewhat similarly to this. I didn't have any class privileges, but I was smarter than most people, performed professionally starting when I was five, and adults treated me as another adult. That's a lot of privilege.
(no subject) - ailbhe - Dec. 31st, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjlayman - Dec. 31st, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xiphias - Dec. 31st, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ailbhe - Jan. 1st, 2008 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Dec. 31st, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjlayman - Jan. 2nd, 2008 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 2nd, 2008 12:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjlayman - Jan. 2nd, 2008 01:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 1st, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
One other issue is that, at least for some of us, our circumstances could have changed dramatically while we were growing up. It certainly made a huge difference to my answers when my father graduated from college and was able to get a better job, leading to our move to suburbia and so on. The public school I would have gone to had we stayed in the Bronx later became the first bilingual drug treatment center in New York City.

I also think I was always aware of my father as a true example of the American dream. He was a Holocaust survivor who came to the U.S. at age 17 with pretty much nothing and worked his way up to be an assistant director of a municipal government agency. Whatever privilege I did / do have derived from the hard work of somebody who had none.
Jan. 1st, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
Hear this, if you will, in a curious tone, not an accusatory or argumentative one:

What difference do you think it makes in your privilege if you came by it because your parent(s) worked hard vs. if you came by it because you were born into a family that already had lots of assets?
(no subject) - fauxklore - Jan. 1st, 2008 12:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 1st, 2008 05:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fauxklore - Jan. 1st, 2008 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunnybutt - Jan. 2nd, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ailbhe - Jan. 1st, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fauxklore - Jan. 1st, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 1st, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ailbhe - Jan. 2nd, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 1st, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
Class privileges that I didn't see. I am most definitely upper middle class by any metric, but I didn't get a new car or clothes or phone or a credit card. Those are not the values of upper middle class intelligentsia, but more what might be considered the nouveaux riche.

My accent is seen as the norm and/or educated.
My parent/s expected me to go to college.
My parent/s read parenting books even if they didn't necessarily apply the theories in said parenting books.
I had two or more parental figures actively involved in my life i.e I was not raised by a single parent, so parent and stepparent count or two co-parents living separately but I shuttled between both or I had other family figures in my life.
My parent/s took me on activities that were designed to educate me or enrich my life regardless of the cost - by this metric trips to the library would count.
My parent/s helped me with school work.
My parent/s had white collar profession/s. (I know several software engineers who never finished college)
One parent stayed at home to look after me or took time off work to spend time with me. (This is a privilege of particular kinds of jobs, but not others)
My parent/s told me I was intelligent and taught me things outside of school.
Jan. 1st, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, "I was expected to go to college" is huge.

On the distinction between upper/upper-middle class and nouveaux-riche - I'm not sure how old you are, but I think the personal phone has trickled way down to many people by now, since phones are much less expensive now than they were when I was growing up, and many kids have cell phones in case of emergency.

I think the credit card companies started setting up on campus a few years after my time, offering students cards in their own names secured by their parents. So I don't think that's nouveaux riche any more either.

A new (not hand-me-down and not used) car might still be.
(no subject) - miz_geek - Jan. 1st, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ailbhe - Jan. 1st, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - micheinnz - Jan. 2nd, 2008 04:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Being expected to go to college - bastette_joyce - Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 2nd, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
GM new car purchase
my dad worked at GM and was required to buy a GM car every year

seriously? wow, that is ... weird. was this a demand for all employees or only those at a certain level? did GM financially compensate their employees for it in some way?
Jan. 2nd, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Re: GM new car purchase
Only executives I think. (My dad was a medical director.) The whole deal was this:

He was loaned a free company car that changed every three months. He could choose any model (can't remember if it was any GM model or any Chevrolet model).

He had to buy a car at cost once a year. He could sell that car for retail value if he chose, so it was theoretically possible to make a profit on it.
Re: GM new car purchase - pir_anha - Jan. 2nd, 2008 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: GM new car purchase - firecat - Jan. 2nd, 2008 04:49 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 2nd, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
I'm having trouble with this one: The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively

If you have anything other than a TV accent (I've heard the TV accent comes from the Great Basin), you aren't portrayed positively (with some exceptions for New York accents). Southern accents are universally condemned by the media, which also doesn't look kindly on Northern Plains or Boston working class.

Furthermore, you could be really rich and really educated, but dress shabbily or eccentrically, which wouldn't play well in the media.
Jan. 2nd, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
I think that eccentric plays better than it used to, but overall I agree with you. I think the media mostly doesn't portray anyone positively.
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 4th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baratron - Jan. 2nd, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 3rd, 2008 02:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 4th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 4th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 4th, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 4th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 4th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 4th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 7th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bastette_joyce - Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 3rd, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 3rd, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
It's also interesting to note how many people feel strongly that they need to emphasise that "I had privilege because my parents started from zero and worked to give me privilege" as though that somehow *deprivileges* it.

I'm pretty sure the word "deserve" is lurking here somewhere.
Jan. 3rd, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah. If you read through the other comments on this post, you can see someone did that, and I asked them why it mattered. I found their answer interesting.

I agree with you that privileges are still privileges even if the parents didn't have some of them and worked to provide them.

The person who said that people whose families have been rich/powerful for generations are less likely to understand that they are privileged. That might be true.

I don't think that changes what a person "should" do (by my ethical system), though. I think anyone with privilege, however or whenever they acquired it, "should" understand how the system gives them things they didn't earn. It doesn't matter how long their families had the privilege before they had it. I also think they "should" use their extra resources to help distribute power and opportunities more fairly.

But I don't expect other people to share my ethics.
(no subject) - ailbhe - Jan. 3rd, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 7th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 4th, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
More on class in the USA
Oooh, ooh, I'm enjoying this discussion.

Here's a graphic about class in American from the NY Times. See where you (or your family) scores!


It requires Flash.
( 59 comments — Leave a comment )

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