Friday, January 11, 2008

Talking about class

Bint Alshamsa has a post up about markers of class privilege. This came from The Paper Chase. Copy the list of privileges and bold those that apply to yourself:

If your father went to college
If your father finished college
If your mother went to college
If your mother finished college
If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

If you were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
If you had a computer at home
If you had your own computer at home

If you had more than 50 books at home
If you had more than 500 books at home
If you were read children’s books by a parent
If you ever had lessons of any kind

If you had more than two kinds of lessons

If the people in the media who dress and talk like you were portrayed positively

If you had a credit card with your name on it
If you have less than $5000 in student loans
If you have no student loans
If you went to a private high school
If you went to summer camp
If you had a private tutor
If you have been to Europe
If your family vacations involved staying at hotels
If all of your clothing has been new and bought at the mall
If your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

If there was original art in your house

If you had a phone in your room

If you lived in a single family house
If your parent owned their own house or apartment
If you had your own room

If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
If you had your own cell phone in high school
If you had your own TV in your room in high school
If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline

If you ever went on a cruise with your family
If your parents took you to museums and art galleries
If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

If your body does not bear long-term signs of malnutrition. (For example, my teeth are marked up from poor nutrition when they were forming.)
If you had orthodontia.
If you saw a doctor for anything other than emergencies or school-mandated shots.
If you heated your home with clean-burning fuels or had properly vented heating.
If you grew up in a house without vermin. (We had rats in the house.)
If you had running water.
If you had a basement or foundation under your house.
If you had an indoor toilet. (not until high school)

If your parents and immediate family were outside the criminal justice system.

If you yourself remained outside the criminal justice system.
If your parents had a new car. (not in every context in the US, but most)
If you never went barefoot so that you could 'save your shoes for school.'

If your parents never argued in front of you about having enough money for food to last out the month.
If you ate hunted and fished meat because it was a recreational activity rather than as the major way to stock a freezer.
If your laundry was done at home in a washer rather than in a lavandaria. (laundrymat)
If your hair was cut by a professional barber or hair stylist instead of your parent.

These are interesting to me because I've spent my life going in and out of these situations. I have lived in situations without running water or an indoor toilet. I lived in my grandmother's house, which did not have heat outside of the living room. Yet I did not consider that fact a matter of poverty. There were so many other riches to be had. Safety. Comfort. Love. Not having an indoor toilet, indoor heating, running water in the winter, etc. That was a small price to pay for safety. Freedom from constant abuse. Freedom from constant police presence.

But it really is a good list and an interesting exercise.


belledame222 said...

yeah, kactus had a discussion going about that as well. and yeah, i think the framing's flawed. it was still interesting, though.