Monday, February 11, 2008

what privilege do i have?

answer: a lot. before i even complete this "privilege meme" that has been circulating (and which i picked up from what tami said via racialicious, which originated at social class and quakers), i know that i will stepping forward quite a bit.

i am an african-american woman who was born to two "upwardly mobile" black professionals who themselves came from what would be considered the black upper crust in their towns of origin. not doctors and lawyers, mind you, but highly regarded people in their communities. my grandaddy on my mom's side was the first black mayor of his town (this is especially impressive because he was an ex-con). my grandaddy on my dad's side was the contractor that built much of grambling, louisana (go tigers!). i have privilege up the wazoo. my family had to work for it, harder and probably for longer than our white counterparts, but i have it.

what does this mean? i dunno, but it reminds me of the exercises i used to facilitate in college (PDAC, stand up!). go figure.

my "meme" below.

and yes, i'm a month late on this, but i don't care. i wanna!

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

so i've had a chance to think about this a bit more, and what i think is most interesting about this privilege exercise is what is left out. for every relative i have this is an attorney, physician, or lawyer, i have at least one who works for UPS, is a high school or college dropout, or is sick with an illness that will probably kill them, even though it shouldn't. i don't want to go into a lot of "excuses" for the privileges i have, but i do think that this exercise, and others like it, do little to usefully complicate discussions of power and privilege. it was interesting to think about these markers of "class," i guess, but i'm not sure what it really tells me about the things i have access to that are important. as usual, what interests me more is where these things intersect with markers of other aspects of my identity. that checklist might take awhile to put together. anyone have any suggestions?

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