January 25th, 2008

ewe

Privilege

There was a meme a while ago where people had to take a list and bold the "privileges" they experienced growing up. I know I've left it too late to address this, but I think it leads to some interesting ideas in general, so I'm going to babble a bit.

To deal with the meme itself: it originated from a teaching exercise developed at Indiana State University. Most people who filled in the meme commented that it isn't terribly well thought out. Some of the criticisms are a bit off-target; yes, it is US-centric and yes, it concentrates on class to the exclusion of other kinds of privilege, but that's because it was designed to teach American college students about class, not to be used as a meme in the rather international and highly varied context of LJ, or to make a profound statement about privilege in general. Several people argued that it fails even to address even American class privilege in a sensible way; I don't know enough about that to be able to comment. My reading of it is that somebody who bolded most of it would have the following advantages: a financially stable background; guardians who were committed to education; to some extent, though the list doesn't cover this as well as it might, a culture which is socially valued. Those are definitely advantages which some people have and others lack, which is not to say that everyone who has them must have a wonderful and perfect life and everyone else must be living in misery!

But I think the reaction to this meme is a good example of why those privilege lists don't really make the point they are trying to make very well. Collapse )

Well, what do you think? Someone complimented me recently on posting thoughtful essays to LJ, which made me realize I haven't done so in quite a long while. And now I've got past the major worst of work panic, I can write up things that I've been ruminating on for a while.
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