Sunday blogging against racism #42–privilege meme

I have done exercises like this one more than once in anti-racism trainings. This particular meme purportedly focuses more on class than on race per se, although I certainly am aware (more and more) that race and class are inextricably entwined, and attempts to separate out the two almost always prove futile.

I also know that people react strongly to this type of activity, and of course, no activity of this type is ever going to be perfect, but I suspect that the reason most of us shy away from such activities, or find reasons to criticize them, is that they put us dangerously close to the point where we need to admit to our own privilege. So you end up with reactions like this that remind me of the people who protest the (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) characterizations on Stuff White People Like. “But I’m not THAT KIND of white person!” And on it goes . . . 

Anyway, here’s the meme. The goal is to BOLD the items that are true for you and to see how many you end up with. Let’s see how I do . . . 

Father went to college [um, does trade school count here?! I guess I’ll mark it.]
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
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
[I had about six months of piano lessons when I was in high school. however, it was made abundantly clear to me at a young age that the reason I could NOT take dance lessons was because “we couldn’t afford it”.]
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
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 [we never took a vacation!]
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 child
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  
You had your own room as a child 
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course [free ones at New Dorp High School]
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 [when I was 20]
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

That’s all I’ve got. If you want to read more about people’s reactions, you can go here. But in the meantime, as “impoverished” as I like to believe myself to be, I know that I am still struggling with the legacy of white privilege, and that I’ve barely begun to unearth all of the ways in which it’s been manifested in my life. So there is much to do, and I know that I have barely started.

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