Thursday, January 03, 2008

Doing the privilege meme

I found this via the Dirty Librarian. I reproduce it as stated there. My observations are in parentheses:

"From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright. Bold the true statements, then put on a Scottish accent and complain about the kids nowadays."

  1. Father went to college.
  2. Father finished college.
  3. Mother went to college.
  4. Mother finished college. (They both went. Neither managed to finish. I think my father, if I recall my mom once mentioning it, was only about 6 credits shy or so of a degree).
  5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. (One of my uncles is a physician).
  6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. (I would say about the same).
  7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home. (I don't think they quite got to 500, but I remember there was a good number of books in my homes. I say homes because we moved a lot when I was a kid. Anyhow, mom was big on having books in the house. When you used to be able to get reference book sets in the supermarket, we got some of those. Actually, we had a very nice history of art set of books we got that way. It covered everything from classical Greece to contemporary art).
  8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
  9. Were read children's books by a parent. (Mom would have done this)
  10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18. (swimming lessons. I also had art lessons briefly. These were offered free in one of the towns I lived in. I think it was probably some municipal grant or other. I learned to paint oil and watercolor. Anyhow, mom took lessons too at that time.)
  11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
  12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
  13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (are you kidding? Heck, my parents barely had a credit card themselves as it was. Kids having one before 18 was simply unthinkable)
  14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (parents paid a lot of it, but I also had to take out college loans. Still paying them. That was undergrad. I paid for the advanced degrees.)
  15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
  16. Went to a private high school. (Catholic schools mostly, except for a brief two year stint in a military academy when I was in elementary. Considering my parents, especially my mom, were not exactly very pro-military, it was curious choice, in my estimation. I will add that I do have various family members who have served in the armed forces. In Puerto Rico, public schools overall are pretty dismal. My dad worked his butt off to get his kids an education. I went to a LaSalle school for a while, and I remember we had the tuition on payment plan. How do I remember? Because one of my brothers or me had to bring in the payment book with the check every month or so. One of the Brothers at the school came around the classrooms, took the check, and would stamp our book. In fact, dad always told us the one inheritance we would get from him would be an education. And I have to say, it's probably the best thing he could have gotten us. Well, that, and a sense of decency and set of good values).
  17. Went to summer camp.
  18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
  19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (When we traveled from Puerto Rico to the States we did, assuming we did not have relatives nearby. Relatives nearby meant we stayed with them).
  20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. (I was the oldest, so I got lucky. Brothers usually got new, but also got some of the hand-me-downs. My parents made sure we always had decent clothes and shoes, even if it meant dad did without a pair of shoes for himself for a while. I know because once in a while he would come back with a pair of shoes he had resoled.).
  21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. (Not until I was out of college, and then they gave the down payment for a new '93 Dodge Shadow. I had that car for ten years or so. So I got my money's worth for it. In high school, I did have a station wagon hand-me-down).
  22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. (If you count my mom's paintings as original art, yes. If you mean some Picasso, no).
  23. You and your family lived in a single-family house. (I think my parents rented when I was a baby. They later bought, but they moved around a lot, so I don't think they ever owned any of the houses since we were not in a place long enough to have paid off a mortgage. If I sound vague is because these things were not exactly spoken about in front of the kids).
  24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
  25. You had your own room as a child. (Privilege of being the oldest son).
  26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. (Are you kidding? See my note about the credit cards above. Phone was in a public spot).
  27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
  28. Had your own TV in your room in high school. (A 13 inch black and white. No cable. So, back then, it meant, about 3 channels, or four depending if the fourth station was in or out of bankruptcy).
  29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
  30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. (This is one of the fondest memories of my childhood, vacations where we took a flight. We flew in those big L-1011's with wide cabins. Those planes were huge. We mostly flew on Eastern Airlines; Puerto Rico was one of their big hubs. I think just about every other Puerto Rican flew on Eastern in those days. Heck, Eastern had quite a good amount of advertising on TV targeting us to fly their airline. We never flew Pan-Am, but it was still around at the time. Service was actually good in airlines back then, and the food was pretty good. They had real silverware too. My mom still speaks highly of how well they treated us kids when we traveled and how thoughtful overall the stewardesses were with a family with kids. And yes, in those days, they were called stewardesses. The Spanish word is "azafatas."Anyhow, those were the days. There is no way now I get on a plane.)
  31. Went on a cruise with your family.(I have to qualify this one. I went on a cruise for our senior class trip. So, it was not with the family. However, it should count since my parents paid for it, and it was a very big deal. While I was not too thrilled about going, since I did not feel particularly attached to my high school, mom sort of insisted on me doing the once in a lifetime thing).
  32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
  33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. (Oh heck yea. Museums, historical sites, art galleries, trails, archaeological digs, festivals, fairs, so on. If there was some educational place or experience that you could drive to and did not cost too much, we went there. When in the States, we would go to all sorts of places. Going to the Smithsonian as a child is one of the highlights of that time. My parents were very big on exposing us to all sorts of educational experiences. It had to be affordable though. So we never did stuff like the opera. However, for example, mom made sure we had records of classical music, including opera, at home. So, we did get the exposure, even if it was not always live.).
  34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. (I had no idea what the bills were overall. Heating is not applicable in Puerto Rico. Some air conditioning, though we had window units, not central, and we got those units gradually per room. By the time I got to high school, I had a unit in my room.).

    Grand total: 20
Overall, I can say I had a pretty healthy and happy childhood. My parents made sure their three boys had whatever opportunities they could get them. We were close to our extended family as well, which added to the sense of family. Weekends were often spent at some relative's home. My father had a bit of a gypsy spirit, so Sunday drives were common. We were not rich by any extent of the imagination. My dad worked long hours and drove a lot in his job as an industrial salesman to provide for us. One of my memories from those days is when he came home, his hands were often cold from the A/C in the car. Apparently, he kept it cold. Money was tight at times, and yet, we were fortunate to be able to do a lot of things many of my other peers were not able to do. So, papi and mami, gracias.

Clearly, the questionnaire is very dated by now. I mean, nowadays getting a cellphone is no big deal. We did not have them when growing up. For example, one time my dad had to borrow a different company car than the one he usually used (yes, back then, his company did provide a vehicle),. Anyhow, that one car had a mobile phone in it, and it was like a regular phone, except mounted in the car (I think the darn thing actually had a rotary dial on it). It was a very big deal. Later, as cellphone technology took off, dad did have a vehicle with a cellphone in it, but it was one mounted on the car; the whole tiny mobile thing, like the Motorola Razr I have now, did not come until much later. I think for us, my brothers and I, a lot of our good fortune is that our parents took us just about anywhere. They did not take a whole lot of time to themselves. Sure, we were dropped off at grandma's once in a while for them to go out, but overall, they took us everywhere. It meant we had a lot of time together as a family, and we got exposed to a lot of things. I wonder how the questionnaire would change or be updated to reflect young people today. Might make an interesting exercise.

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