am I privileged?

I found this interesting meme through Gabacha’s blog.

The premise is that you “bold” all the statements that are true. The more bold lines one has, the more privileged one’s formative years were.

Please note: 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. The exercise developers ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

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 – Social class? Maybe the same, definitely not higher

Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

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 – swim, trumpet, voice, I don’t know if soccer counts. Not a slew of lessons for sure; I would say less lessons than many kids have today.

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

Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

Went to a private high school

Went to summer camp

Had a private tutor before you turned 18

Family vacations involved staying at hotels – sometimes. More often cabins in northern Wisconsin though, so I’m not going to bold this one.

Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

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 childmy grandmother is a painter, so yes

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 – Maybe they had some mortgage left, but they were well on their way to having it paid off

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

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 – museums, definitely, art galleries, not quite so much

You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Upon review, I’m not sure how much this particular meme really says about me. I didn’t actually bold that many of the lines, but I feel like I had a privileged childhood. Is having attended a lot of lessons really a sign of privilege, or overbearing parenting? Fermin wouldn’t be able to bold much on this list at all, and certainly he had far from a financially or materially privileged childhood, but he comes from a stable, loving family who did the best they could to make sure all their kids had what they needed.

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5 Responses to am I privileged?

  1. Jack Bruss says:

    It’s an interesting exercise, but basically meaningless, other than it shows the bias of the originater of the survey.

    Examples:

    1. If you have a lawyer, doctor, or professor relative, you are privileged, but no such mention for police officer, soldier, farmer, engineer, etc.

    2. Going on a cruise makes you privileged, but going to a cabin up north or Disneyworld doesn’t.

    3. Having parents pay your college costs makes you privileged, but I would argue you are more privileged if you paid your own way, thus learning more about responsibilty and self sufficiency than the “privileged” student. (Admittedly, I thought differently while attending college and stuffing newspapers on Saturday nights for money).

  2. laurafern says:

    Definitely. Maybe a sort of east-coast mentality? There are some good ones in there, but a lot of it doesn’t really mean much. I think the point of the college tuition one is not to prove that you are hard-working or diligent, but privileged. I mean, in many ways I am glad I paid my own way for the most part, but that doesn’t really mean I was privileged. I would still argue that my friends who don’t have that debt when they graduate are more privileged (read lucky, better off financially) than I am. Still, it’s certainly a good thing to learn to be responsible with money earlier on.

  3. Amy G says:

    Funny how this works. Just for fun I did this, and then had my husband do it for himself. He had 4 more privilege factors than me! I always swore that he had a more conventionally privileged childhood than I did, and this exercise confirms it in its own way.

    Frustrating that it wasn’t enough for his family and they had to go risk my husband’s future in such a foolish way…I still struggle with this. When there are people immigrating all the time out of such desperation, his family basically did it on a whim. At least it gave me the love of my life. For that, I’m grateful.

    I guess this meme also calls into question how we actually define privilege. I feel like I was privileged in childhood to have discovered creative ways to entertain myself without TV, that I learned to love the public library, that my friends came from all over the world, that I learned to be grateful for everything I have, that I learned to think on my feet and adapt quickly to new situations. However, if privilege means certain entitlements and special rights, then no, that isn’t me.

  4. LG says:

    I fall under 20, but that’s all useless considering I’m undocumented.

  5. peculiaroldbird says:

    Hi! I just posted this on my site, too! So your blog came up as a related topic. My understanding, is that this exercise is about recognizing and acknowledging privilege. Its not meant to “say” anything about you on a personal level. And if you gain some understanding of your own privilege, then it makes it easier to understand people who are less advantaged. I think its an exercise in compassion. Its cool that you did it!

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