Tuesday, January 8, 2008


describes how much scope your parents bequeathed you to shape your destiny. This operates in multiple and often subtle ways. It can be reading in the home, or a peer group carefully selected (usually through real estate purchase) to ensure that you "choose" to go to a competitive college instead of dropping out of high school and selling drugs. Or it might be the way having affluent, stable families enables people like me to opt for high-status, low-paying, personally enriching careers, because we know that if something really awful happens, our families can help out.
But until then, you're a rugged pioneer, bravely facing medical conditions without insurance, except for the cc in your wallet that's billed to your parents.
This long arse post on privilege largely breaks down into two halves. The first half is Megan railing at how those damned academics confused her by not using questions entirely specific to her experiences and by not ending up in a simple, binary, privileged or not equation. Megan wasn't claiming she wasn't privileged,
Which is not to suggest, as a few bizarre commenters/emailers suggested, that I was under the impression that I was deprived, or that my childhood in any way resembled growing up in the rough-hewn arms of the proletariat. Rather, the opposite: that many of the status markers chosen do not, in fact, meaningfully contribute in any way to privilege.
Tricksy academicses, they uses things like demographic data and other empirical thingses to fools us with ideas of what are reliable indicators of privilege. The second half of the post is basically Megan arguing that her own individual experience as a child of privilege gives her the expertise to dismiss the Indiana list without so much as, say, emailing the professor and asking how that list was put together. Y'know, like a journalist might do, as opposed to an econoblogger. (I'd do it, but I don't really care.)
But thats ok, Megan knows she has no idea what she's talking about,
Obviously, any list will be imperfect, if only because wealthy Manhattanites will always be the outliers.
Which is, in fact, central to her point.

--random notes on this post--

- Megan sez,
My house had two bedrooms for four people, and one television that I was barely allowed to watch.
This completes the trifecta of NYC rich kid excuse lines. Your house was an apartment, Megan, which your family most likely owned. I know she's sort of trying to be cute and show how you can quibble with the wording of this list, but she misses the irony that she has a privileged position to debate privilege from.

- Finally, a wonderful display of missing the forest for the trees,
One of the falsest moments in movies and television shows is when the "rich kids" make fun of the poor kids for being poor. I went to school with pretty much the most privileged kids in the nation, and I never once heard anyone make fun of someone's lack of money, or even the quality of their material goods.
You mean at an exclusive school populated only by rich kids no one made fun of either of the poor kids? Because they were black guys who played football and basketball, right? Or because the kids there on scholarships or whose parents barely scraped enough together to pay tuition tried hard to hide that fact? Those aren't stereotypes, but my own experience of boarding school, though Megan's half right. It wasn't class so much as race that the rich kids I was around fixated on. I wonder what Megan's classmates had to say about their neighbors to the north in Harlem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why is it "rich kids," but not "poor kids"? Does being poor mean they don't deserve meaningless quotation marks as well? But how obtuse does one person have to be to believe that they know from experience that rich kids never make fun of poor kids because she never once saw a rich kid make fun of a poor kid that wasn't fucking there?