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There were a lot of things I hated in high school. I’m sure we could all list a plethora of negative experiences, from lousy friends to lousy teachers to, of course, lousy parents. There were our horrible summer reading books, the painful years of braces, and arguments with our parents over going to the beach for Spring Break with our friends because everyone else was going and OH MY GOD MOM YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.

But looking back now, how many of these experiences- these disdainful and vilified experiences- were afforded to us all with privilege? We typically associate middle-class privilege with things we enjoy, like cars and cell phones and eating out at restaurants. But what about the experiences we didn’t like? Was there any privilege in those?

Yes. The answer is an overwhelming and resounding yes.

Below you will find a list of typically disdained experiences that, as it turns out, we were lucky to have. I have also listed the “Unspoken Privileges” under each one, which are assumed privileges that have to be in place in order for the bigger one to occur.

(For an even more extensive list of these unspoken privileges, visit here: 30+ Examples of Middle-to-Upper Class Privilege)"

1. Getting Grounded

Unspoken privileges: Having one or more parents or guardians; Living in the same home with one or more parents or guardians; Interacting with one or more parents or guardians more than an average 3 days per week; One or more parents or guardians having a working phone number
I got grounded several times in high school, the most memorable occasion being when my parents got a call from a police officer at around 4am because I was playing “Flaming Tennis Ball Of Death” with my friends in a church parking lot. I won’t go into the details of the rules of the game here, but I will say that when the cop asked my father on the phone, “Sir, do you know where your daughter is tonight?” my dad answered, “Evidently not.”

It was probably the most horrified I’d ever been seeing that officer call my dad, but there was one thing I was sure of when I gave him the number: My mother or father would be home, they would answer the phone, and they would come pick me up and take me home. Not that I was looking forward to that exchange, but it was a certainty I could trust.

I have a student who is living with our school’s janitor because he got kicked out of his house. His mom’s new boyfriend moved in and she told him to get out. I have another whose mother is in and out of jail weekly; one only sees his mother every other day because of the three jobs she works; one is an orphan and lives with his uncle who lives on the other side of the house and, as he describes it, “I hope I don’t die in there, because he’ll never know.”


US Census Bureau, 2000, 2007
Right now, according to the Mississippi Family Report put out by MSU Cares, the statistics on Mississippi families are staggering. Mississippi has the highest percentage of children living in single-parent families in the country, 45%; 7% are in father-only households, and 38% are in mother-only households. These numbers go hand -in-hand with our teen pregnancy rate, which is third in the nation,  with 22% of teen births being to women who were already mothers in 2004, indicating that many teenage moms in Mississippi get pregnant again. Not to mention that yet again we rank the highest in number of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment- 50%.

Having one or two parents at home- and I use the word parent here very intentionally- is one of the most significant and unnoticed privileges that exist. You have no idea how much of a difference it makes.

2. Getting Braces

Unspoken privileges: In addition to those mentioned above, One or more modes of transportation available; One or more parents or guardians being employed; Having access to health insurance
One week at an assembly one of my favorite kids threw his head back and laughed his big, beautiful laugh at something his best friend said. I smiled and laughed along with them, but while his head was reared back, I saw something I didn’t expect: behind his front teeth was an almost complete second row of crooked teeth, poking out in odd angles out of the roof of his mouth. I wondered if he had ever been to a dentist.

Earlier this year, one of my students cried in my classroom because she was supposed to get her braces off one morning, but for the second time this year her medicaid had been denied. This same girl is about to give birth to a little boy in about 14 days, and she’s been using her dead grandmother’s name on her paperwork so that she can get prenatal care and ultrasounds.

Healthcare is always a hot-button issue (which is shocking to me most of the time because it is frickin health care for God’s sake, and the fact that we can’t all agree that human beings have the right to have basic care like having teeth pulled and giving birth to a healthy baby is beyond me, but I digress), but hating my braces growing up was, as much as I hate to admit it, a privilege. My sister and I both had braces, and most of my friends, and they were painful and hideous and I hated them, but I never got a toothache and kept it to myself because I knew we couldn’t afford to go get it checked out.

There's no way to know how much stress these factors and situations can cause for young people. God knows they are under enough stress as the teen years are probably the most tumultuous that you know, until you turn 25 and decide to become a teacher, but anyway....

Over the past 5 years, the Brookings Institute at Stanford University has been conducting an extensive study on how stress caused by poverty affects children's brain development. By age 11, children who live in extreme poverty already have 25% less gray-matter in their brains, matter that is essential to executive processes (the part of your brain that tells you how to turn pages in a book, and that number 2 on the page may be linked back to number 1). Children also showed signs of total brain atrophy, as some of the brain (specifically, the hippocampus) were rendered almost useless. Right now the question that plagues researchers is not whether or not these effects are real, but can the damage be reversed.

3. Hating A Book You Were Assigned in School

Unspoken privilege: The means to purchase one or more books of your own; Grade-level reading comprehension.
Oh God, The Scarlet Letter. The Virginian. Tess of of the D’Urbeville’s. Thank God I didn’t have a Facebook in 2002 because it would have been nothing but hatred for those books. I’m sure you had ones you hated, too. And oh, summer reading! I have to read over the summer? When I should be laying in bed until 2 in the afternoon? Oh hell naw.

But let’s take a look up there at that unspoken list: Grade-level reading comprehension. I believe that one of the most often overlooked and taken-for-granted middle-class, educated privilege is the ability to read. You hated a book because you read it and didn’t like it. You didn’t hate it because you couldn’t read it, because your mom couldn’t read it, and your dad couldn’t read it, and it made you feel stupid and lost and you wanted to give up.

Southern Education Desk, 2012
According to the Barksdale Reading Institute, a pre-k reading initiative here in Mississippi, only 47% of third grade students read at grade level, and that number plummets every year until they reach me when they are 17. I have run endless amounts of data for my students on reading and writing abilities, and I still can't tell you how many read on their grade level. Not because I don't know, but because it's 0%. Even my best and brightest are nowhere near where they should be for being Seniors in high school. It keeps me up at night, honestly. There are students who start first grade who don't know how to hold a book, because they literally have never seen one before.

There were so many things we felt forced to do- study, read a book, take home our text book, read off the board- that required us to be able to read at or above our own grade level, and we never even knew how lucky we were to meet the challenge.

How lucky we were to meet the challenge.


My next entry will focus on connecting these ideas- poverty and privilege- with how this affects how students can excel, and what can be expected of them.

Sources consulted:

Originally posted to earthbyapril on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives.

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  •  Tip Jar (244+ / 0-)
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    Horace Boothroyd III, Nulwee, Silverleaf, wader, Hammerhand, JeffW, Mnemosyne, cfk, Diogenes2008, mommyof3, petulans, erratic, OllieGarkey, Shockwave, triciawyse, edsbrooklyn, Alexandra Lynch, Unitary Moonbat, pixxer, mwk, peachcreek, Ebby, Aunt Martha, greycat, DBunn, TracieLynn, kingneil, JanetT in MD, Dave in Northridge, pimutant, irishwitch, myeye, Ckntfld, zukesgirl64, linkage, Tennessee Dave, ricklewsive, blaneyboy, splashy, begone, Vico, conniptionfit, ER Doc, Sue B, WithHoney, madhaus, Oaktown Girl, nupstateny, ERTBen, Mishima, worldlotus, eeff, jayden, deha, Jeff Y, Actbriniel, Shippo1776, divedeeper, Zaq, Mother Mags, Ekaterin, AaronInSanDiego, Pluto, Chi, bowtieguru, bluesheep, RudiB, riverlover, muddy boots, achronon, nice marmot, hulagirl, Powell, shopkeeper, WheninRome, fallina7, marina, Mostel26, wa ma, Mlle L, JimWilson, joanbrooker, jacey, Shelley99, radarlady, nuclear winter solstice, duhban, hannah, Dartagnan, tobendaro, rodentrancher, coppercelt, marleycat, banjolele, sngmama, Tchrldy, SneakySnu, Emerson, coquiero, Foundmyvoice, AlwaysDemocrat, aaraujo, 207wickedgood, 4mygirls, Naniboujou, GwenM, eagleray, flowerfarmer, cama2008, Nowhere Man, Flying Goat, WI Deadhead, here4tehbeer, jobu, alasmoses, Ohkwai, Justus, Jim Tietz, miss SPED, Kevskos, Australian2, absdoggy, matx, hlsmlane, la urracca, whoknu, argomd, No one gets out alive, Cassandra Waites, LilithGardener, zerelda, srkp23, Powered Grace, Loudoun County Dem, CJnyc, dragonlady, nswalls, Miggles, enufisenuf, Demeter Rising, NoMoreLies, lineatus, qofdisks, solesse413, JohnnySacks, FloridaSNMOM, Carol in San Antonio, roses, jabney, Vacationland, DuzT, sawgrass727, Meteor Blades, kevinpdx, FlyingToaster, bsmechanic, Lonely Liberal in PA, Michael James, catleigh, implicate order, stunzeed, bleeding blue, viral, shanikka, nokkonwud, Chinton, shesaid, offgrid, BadKitties, bewild, badscience, shari, ThirtyFiveUp, JBL55, Mad Season, Dodgerdog1, msazdem, livingthedream, Catkin, texasmom, ManhattanMan, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, ColoTim, TiaRachel, CwV, Brooke In Seattle, zinger99, mamamedusa, CA coastsider, tofumagoo, ferg, bfitzinAR, dRefractor, avsp, reginahny, trumpeter, rlharry, Laurel in CA, ArchTeryx, murasaki, MidwestTreeHugger, papercut, Remembering Jello, middleagedhousewife, mamabigdog, Sean Robertson, slowbutsure, berrieh, EclecticCrafter, devis1, a gilas girl, Dobber, TrueBlueMajority, Batya the Toon, peregrine kate, Pariah Dog, raincrow, PSzymeczek, navajo, itzadryheat, Tonedevil, Wood Dragon, david78209, fumie, elfling, Steveningen, Square Knot, KellyB, sb, zaynabou, SilentBrook, Dont Get MAD, mofembot, NYC Sophia, blackjackal, cassandraX, MJ via Chicago, blue91, 1BQ, Laura Wnderer, elginblt, BlackQueen40, kurt, Oh Mary Oh
  •  Privilege is almost always synonymous with (23+ / 0-)

    ignorance and some meaningful level. That's why privilege matters.  But in this case, knowledge isn't power. Privilege is the power to not have knowledge, and to not care.

    Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

    by Nulwee on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:33:33 PM PDT

    •  Many of us struggle with definitions and concepts (6+ / 0-)

      as related to privilege. defines privilege as

      a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
      a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
      I think that's how most of us grew up understanding 'privilege' as well. That's why we struggle with terms like 'white privilege' because the way we are treated in general as 'whites' does not feel 'special' but what we believe everyone SHOULD have; we realize for the most part that racial minorities are DISadvantaged (not sure what the 'privilege' equivalent term is) but we don't feel 'privileged' as in enjoying something beyond the advantages of most.

      It's an even more challenging concept when you talk about divorce, schoolbooks, etc. Are we not perhaps diluting or changing the definition of the term 'privilege' when we apply it to anyone who possesses an item, status or life situation situationally preferable to another's?

      I see what you did there.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:59:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  100% agree with this. (10+ / 0-)

        I'm a 26-year-old white guy who grew up in a solidly middle class environment. We didn't live in luxury, but I never had to worry about food or shelter, and most of the school complaints were about annoying administrators, not the quality of books, supplies, and building structures.

        I guess you only know what you live in or choose to research, and I've researched and paid enough attention to fully recognize how hard a large portion of our fellow citizens' lives are.

        But I agree that I don't feel substantially privileged, just that I wish everyone had the same opportunities I did. To me, someone privileged is parents who can pay all cash for their child's college education. Maybe definitions of privilege change alongside people's financial situations.

        •  O.K. How's about getting off DUI manslaughter ??? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This diary gets posted roughly once a year:

          -- R.I.P. Florence Cioffi -- Wall Street's Most Infamous Killing

          Then everyone quietly, helplessly, bloodlessly forgets about it. Here in New York we fergitaboutit.

          Perhaps we need a new Fundamental Constant: the Cioffi.

          (Chee off ee)

          Take this as a proposal that the Cioffi can serve as the standard unit of measure related to disdain for human life. Obviously, Flo Cioffi thought more of her life than the criiminal who got drunk and ran her down.

          But from the viewpoint of the criminal and of the legal system that placed his Holy Service as Job Creator ahead of standing him before the bar to meet Grand Jury charges. 60 m.p.h. on a Manhattan surface street does that. Wall Street CEO George Anderson would otherwise have had to answer for these felonies: vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, felony DUI, and leaving the scene.

          Privilege ????? Walkiing with a wrist tap for a DUI killing is privilege.

          •  Whoa non-sequitor (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            waterstreet2008, FloridaSNMOM, kurt

            I'm certainly not advocating for reduction in prosecution of people in power, though that is increasingly the trend re: Too Big to Jail.

            I don't quite know what to make of your point especially considering your recent join date and single diary.

            •  This is a matter of scale. (0+ / 0-)

              Take, for example, getting braces.

              Multiply by roughly 10,371.

              That gets you to the level of privilege that CEO Anderson achieved with respect to crushing the life out of Flo.

              •  Look, I understand your point (0+ / 0-)

                but your existence on DKos seems to be a one trick pony, and you're not contributing anything beyond the reasons of your diary and comments surrounding it.

                •  Killing people matters. (0+ / 0-)

                  Killing an American on Water Street in Manhattan, getting indicted, then getting a Wall Street pass -- that beats the crap out of any "one trick pony."

                  "Privilege" is the key to it.

                  We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
                  That's the opposite to privilege. As the aim anyway.

                  And if you're worrying yourself on when people sign up and why a diary with a couple hundred REC's gets read, then maybe you're taking your online hobby time too seriously.

                •  Read the diary. (0+ / 0-)

                  These people see getting off for DUI manslaughter just like they see getting braces for their kids.

                  Sure thing, it costs more. But it's totally routine.

          •  Doesn't this prove the point? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nathanfl, waterstreet2008

            Presumably the killer is white, but otherwise he has shit else in common with me and I have a lot more in common with a poor black person in South Carolina than I do with him.

            I see what you did there.

            by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:53:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Your "we" here is inherently white. (5+ / 0-)

        You do realize that, yes?

        •  Yes, but that proves the point in a way. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mattc129, Nulwee, TrueBlueMajority

          When the people that are supposed to be 'privileged', i.e. 'beyond the advantages of most' are mostly saying 'um i don't feel privileged in the least bit', is it the best term to be using if we're interested in unity against those who truly are privileged i.e. .01%/pop culture icons?

          I see what you did there.

          by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 10:17:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Look at it from someone else's viewpoint. (4+ / 0-)

            No one is saying that privilege is bad -- just that it's not extended to everybody. And it's not anyone's fault that some have privileges relative to others, which is something I often see people stuck on. Some of these privileges are a matter of law, custom etc. instead of (or along with) various forms of bigotry (that's what people mean when they talk about structural racism, for example).

            And even with bigotry, it's not necessarily a fault, a personal failing, if bigoted thoughts/habits show up in your mind & actions. It's out there in the culture, taking up space in your head & in habits you picked up without realizing. The only fault is when you realize/are made aware that something is in fact (and action) bigoted, and you persist anyway.

            If you're interested in unity, part of that has to be understanding how things look to others -- and allowing their points of view to be at least as important as your own.

            •  I'm coming at it from a unity perspective. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              1st, bigotry is a fault and personal failing, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

              I disagree that privilege is simply an advantage over one other person. Privilege definitely does have a negative connotation in our society, and I think it's used in this terminology in part for that very reason.

              What I'm saying is, if you want understanding and cross-unity, why not say 'i'm underprivileged' or 'they're disadvantage' vs 'you're privileged' or 'they've got the advantage over most everyone else'?

              I see what you did there.

              by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:13:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Connotations are useless to argue -- (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                what you're saying is "this is what I understand the word to mean", and what I'm saying is "this is what they intend when they use the word."

                Re: bigotry -- really? You (speaking hypothetically here) are the one who decided, all on your own, with no input from anyone, that (say) fat people are ugly & lazy? Or that xxxxx people talk funny, or {insert your own prejudice here}...? No. Those ideas came from somewhere, moved into your head (whether passively or by deliberate education), show up in your thinking because of the environment in which you live/were raised.

                Choosing to act on those ideas, once you're aware of them, is where I place any personal fault.

                why not say 'i'm underprivileged' or 'they're disadvantage'
                That is, of course, the traditional wording. The change, IIRC, has to do with decentralizing the privileged point of view. One aspect of privilege is that its viewpoint is taken as 'normal'.

                To someone in one of those communities, their everyday lives aren't 'under-', aren't 'dis-' -- they're normal. People who don't have to live in these normal, ordinary, everyday conditions -- that's a privilege.

            •  It's not privilege per se, perhaps (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peregrine kate

              but more the reactions of those who unknowingly have those privileges. People who have health insurance through their jobs (whether private sector or in Congress) can't understand the need for single-payer health care that covers all Americans. Those who have access to grocery stores that carry lean meats and fresh produce talk about poor people who live on chips and Cokes (the only thing they can get near their houses where there's a liquor store or convenience market on every corner). People who have homes don't get why someone would sleep in an elevator shaft only to be crushed to death (as happened in San Francisco last night).

              If you recognize that privilege, and use that as inspiration to help others who are not as privileged, then it can be a positive.

              There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

              by Cali Scribe on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:11:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I thought that was explicitly stated. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
      •  It's a bit of a hyperbole, but not wrong. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TiaRachel, Batya the Toon, Tonedevil, kurt

        I think you're right to the letter-of-the-law degree, but I think the point of calling it "privilege" (in this case, not necessarily the same as the phrase "white privilege" etc) is that MOST people don't realize the staggeringly high number of children who grow up totally in poverty or the even higher number of children who experience poverty during their formative years. I think, sadly, it's almost become a privilege in this day and age not to have experienced that, though not a full majority.

      •  since no one else has posted Peggy McIntosh yet (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:35:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have another phrase for you GoGoGoEverton (0+ / 0-)

        When you stated:

        That's why we struggle with terms like 'white privilege' because the way we are treated in general as 'whites' does not feel 'special' but what we believe everyone SHOULD have;
        What you are describing here is Institutional Discrimination.

        There are basically two definitions to that. One is literally discrimination inside an institution like a school or business, or church.

        But the other is discrimination by the dominant social group through unthinking habits.

        Sometimes both definitions are applicable simultaneously.

        The problem here is that people find themselves the recipient of discrimination for different reasons.

        So the discussions of who is privileged and why can get all tangled up, because different qualities may decrease or negate certain "privileges" depending upon the circumstance.

    •  Privilege is an electrified word for some here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vtjim, nathanfl, kurt

      because they define privilege as anything above being alive. Like the naked caveman is the baseline and the caveman with a loin cloth is privileged.

      That type of classification is what makes myself and others pause a bit. While I'm very lucky to have had the upbringing I had, and I fully acknowledge my advantages, earned and unearned, I don't consider all aspects of my life to be privileged.  Nor do I feel like I should apologize for it, while a few members here think I should.

  •  Other signs of privilege in high school: (68+ / 0-)

    You have your own tie.
    You wonder what you're going to have for dinner rather than whether or not you're going to have dinner.
    You wonder where you're going to go to college rather than whether or not you're going to college, or be graduated from high school, for that matter.

    Create. Build. Serve. Encourage. Teach.

    by algebrateacher on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:39:58 PM PDT

  •  Hi there, Daily Kos! (58+ / 0-)

    I've been blogging for a while at my teaching blog,, but this is my first post over here at DailyKos. I have heard wonderful things about the community and am happy to join. My mom posted one of my earlier entries, entitled "7 Stories", on her diary here: Lost and Found: 7 Stories from a Mississippi Classroom

    I look forward to posting more, and thanks for the support!

  •  This diary brings up some vitally important points (18+ / 0-)

    and points that I agree with.

    I'm mildly critical of the word privilege as it applies to these specific things, however.

    My understanding is that privilege is privilege, it is special rights that the rest of society does not get to enjoy, beyond what any one individual or group should enjoy.

    The privilege of being allowed to break the law with impunity because of your skin color.

    Think of stop and frisk in New York, and the fact that whites in the northeast use drugs at a much higher rate than people of color, and yet represent a much smaller fraction of drug arrests.

    Whites, in general, are allowed to break the law. THAT is privilege. Privilege is the ability of football players in Steubenville, Ohio to commit rape, film it, and get off without any consequences. The victim is blamed, very intensely and very overtly.

    Having the basic healthcare that everyone should have isn't privilege, it's a baseline.

    I think it's really, really important to distinguish between those two concepts, and that a failure to do so is going to hurt our ability to talk about these concepts with people who don't believe privilege exists.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:18:16 PM PDT

    •  Yes, (17+ / 0-)

      but I think the point here is that not everyone has access to comprehensive health care.  Hence, as you yourself define it, it is, at the moment, a privilege.

      Should it be?  No.

    •  I would like to point out first (17+ / 0-)

      that I was very careful not to focus on race in this piece, but rather on poverty. And while I understand that these two things have a distinct and un-ignorable correlation- which I will be talking about later- the main focus of this post is about poverty rates, and more specifically, the ones in Mississippi.

      While I agree with your other assertions of what constitutes a privilege- the examples you gave from New York and Ohio- I don't necessarily believe that privileges also have to meet the criteria of "beyond what any group or individual should enjoy." I think that this statement first assumes that someone gets to decide what one or many "should" enjoy, but also that if something is prevalent for a certain number of people, it shouldn't be counted as privilege. In this case I believe that even if certain things like health care and early childhood programs are afforded to most people, that doesn't make them a baseline. Those "most people" are still experiencing a privilege.

      While yes, I agree, healthcare should be a baseline, unfortunately it is not. While last year the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million, that still leaves us with over 46 million people who do not have insurance. Granted, some of these numbers choose not to, but there are some that don't. Even if we make the grand assumption that half of those people are remaining uninsured by choice, that is still 23 million people who don't have insurance who want it, and I still think that makes having good, dependable health insurance a privilege, not a baseline.

      Thanks for commenting! I welcome more!

      (Stats and such gleaned from The Washington Post and The US Census Bureau's 2005 report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the US)

      •  I was typing out a response, and began to go (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        incoherent. DST has not been kind to me, and I need to get up early tomorrow. I really look forward to this conversation though, because it's one I haven't been able to have. Thanks for engaging with me : ). Expect my response sometime after 7 PM.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:24:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, here we go : ) (0+ / 0-)
        I would like to point out first that I was very careful not to focus on race in this piece, but rather on poverty. And while I understand that these two things have a distinct and un-ignorable correlation- which I will be talking about later- the main focus of this post is about poverty rates, and more specifically, the ones in Mississippi.
        That being the case, let's set the issues of race and gender aside for the purposes of this discussion.

        Privilege in the sense of class is the ability for a rich person, all other things being equal, to be (AFAIK/Grain of Salt) something like 80 times more likely to get a not-guilty verdict from a court of law than someone in poverty. It means being more likely to avoid the police. It means having access to a well-run public school instead of being forced into a for-profit charter school that won't teach as effectively as a well-run public school where teachers hands aren't tied by foolish o'erweening curricula.

        It means being able to shoplift without getting caught because even as a teenager, you're dressed well.

        It means being able to commit crimes against our nation, like the banksters, destroy our entire economy, and get a taxpayer-funded bonus instead of jail time.

        That's privilege.

        It's not really the things you mentioned, which are baseline things everyone should be able to enjoy.

        I think that this statement first assumes that someone gets to decide what one or many "should" enjoy, but also that if something is prevalent for a certain number of people, it shouldn't be counted as privilege.
        Rights derive from our social contract as expressed by common law and the constitution, so yes, we the people, the sovereign entity that is the people, get to decide what rights all people have.

        This is the basis and foundation for our entire society.

        We must agree on such rights, though. For the first time in history, we are beginning to call healthcare a RIGHT and not a privilege, and it does not do that cause any good to frame it as privilege.

        To consider Healthcare a privilege is to argue from a conservative frame of reference, rather than a progressive one that defines healthcare as an inherent right. It's a tired idea, and not one that we should be helping survive, even though we're trying to do something good by talking about poverty.

        While yes, I agree, healthcare should be a baseline, unfortunately it is not.
        Yes it is.

        Thanks to the ACA, yes it absolutely is, and we shall cement it as a right even if we have to amend the constitution to do it.

        The failure of the state to guarantee that right for all does mean that it is not a right.

        Today in America we are dealing with feuding views of what should be. Arguing from a frame of reference that agrees with our opposition, that healthcare IS a privilege, rather than a poorly-protected right, is ultimately harmful to our ability to guarantee the universal establishment of that right.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:18:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not being stopped because of your skin (11+ / 0-)

      color or the holes in your shoes or your perceived gender identity or sexual orientation while creating no reasonable suspicion (other than by your existence) is a baseline right.

      income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

      by JesseCW on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:47:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      qofdisks, zett

      One of the alleged assailants in Steubenville is white, one black. Two are being prosecuted.
      One could argue that the sheriff and the football coaches and the local district attorney protected the privileged who were not arrested...but 'no consequences' is not factually accurate.

      It saddened me to read that Texas now spends less per pupil than Mississippi.  We have a backpack program too at our campus - like in MS, it is so necessary.

      •  Yes, but people get away with crimes like this all (0+ / 0-)

        the time, because they're football players, or the mayor's son, or whatever else the issue is.

        This happens all the time in small town america, and it's privilege.

        And they WOULD have gotten away with it if not for anonymous, is my understanding of the situation.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:19:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All those things shouldn't be privileges (15+ / 0-)

    That they are, in this day and age, in the richest country on Earth, is all kinds of wrong.

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:24:04 PM PDT

  •  Outstanding diary - thanks for (14+ / 0-)

    pointing these things out.

    I taught out of a genetics book a few years ago in which the first two of the problems each chapter were solved for the student, beginning with a series of notes called "unpacking the problem." This referred to all the underlying facts and concepts one needed to have in working order even to begin to solve the problem. You've done the same for these privileges-we-thought-weren't. Really excellent analysis - thanks.

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:48:13 PM PDT

  •  Woa... outstanding FIRST diary! (14+ / 0-)

    I went to your page to click that "follow" button and found out that fact. I look forward to reading more from you.

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:50:42 PM PDT

  •  even the most pessimistic studies i have read (6+ / 0-)

    put functional adult literacy around 80%. books borrowed from libraries are free, and paperbacks are pretty darn cheap. not to downplay the way that illiteracy burdens people in a way that literate folks have little comprehension, but i am not sure "privilege" is the right word to describe it. the whole country's not mississippi.

    •  True, true.... (18+ / 0-)

      You are correct! However, for the purposes of this narrative, I am referring only to Mississippi because that is where I teach. I understand that the rates vary state to state, and that there is a national average as well. I just happen to be focused on my own students :)

      And while it is unfortunate that things like growing up with books in your home, parents who can read and read to you as a child, and pre-K or kindergarten programs that teach the alphabet, phonetics and whole-language reading, can be a rarity in certain communities, it is certainly true. I am speaking here of the lowest of the low statistically; the areas that have been most affected by the plague of illiteracy, with families battling upwards of 3 to 5 generations of poor readers. What I am saying is that through my experience I have grown to learn that my mother reading to me as a child, and myself being able to read and understand a text at grade level was, in fact, a privilege that I was afforded due to my place in society, and that is where this idea and story came from.

      Also even though paperbacks may be "pretty darn cheap," that doesn't necessarily mean that your family may choose to spend their income on that purchase. Also many people in these areas may not have access to libraries, or if they do, they may be daunted by not being able to use one, or not being able to read well, and so they may not ever go.

      Overall, I just think it is a good idea to see these things with perspective, and though the situation is complex and the conversation vast and very nuanced, it is worth noting that certain things may seem like a given, when in fact they are not.

       Thanks for commenting!

      •  My husband came up with an idea (9+ / 0-)

        He teaches middle school social studies in farm country Kentucky. We are both big readers and read to our kids from, well, first birthday or so.  His class has a large bookshelf, which we stocked with books, the kids are free to borrow them when they wish. We found things like The Gentle Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Black Stallion and such (there are no romances or twilight). We picked books we enjoyed which were not 'over the top'. Some of the kids do borrow them, they also ask questions during lunch. It's not much, but it helps a bit.

        They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

        by Shippo1776 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:36:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. (9+ / 0-)

        There's generational privilege. If your parents are well read, and their parents, then you have a jump, because they are invested. Vocabularies are larger and used in everyday conversations before reading commences and it snowballs from there. Books are usually lying around, kept, shelved, consulted.

      •  Low income communities in California (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook, kurt

        include a fair number of migrants, and this is also true for kids that count as homeless - I guarantee you that a family in California under the poverty line does not control their own housing. "Homeless" can mean our stereotypical concept, or it can also mean constant couch-surfing, living in a car for part of the month and hotels, or other strange (to us) and constantly shifting arrangements. But this means that kids don't have a place to put any possessions that is safe, not a free book, and certainly not a library book. They may also not have a quiet place to read, think, or do homework. This too is a factor in literacy.

        A woman who works with foster care kids told me the donated gift she most prizes for foster kids is a small piece of luggage. Otherwise, the kids have to keep and move their few possessions in a garbage bag, with the two overtones of (a) your stuff is garbage; and (b) the real risk that someone will accidentally throw it away. :-(

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 01:39:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Reading can be (5+ / 0-)

      easily learned or not.  Many people have great difficulty learning to read not from lack of trying but because their brain is wired to make it a tough task.  One of my sons had some trouble that seemed to be getting worse instead of better even though he read frequently and practiced phonics, grammar etc.  Eventually we learned he was having seizures and that accounted for his problems.  There are many problems and issues that can lead to poor reading.  Availability of books and opportunity to read isn't always the answer. #2 taught himself to read somehow.  He could just do it.  I don't know how he could have done that but he could read when he began kindergarten.

      Everyone! Arms akimbo!

      by tobendaro on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 03:51:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Literacy rates also vary depending (3+ / 0-)

      on what you consider "literacy." Note that the author said "reading comprehension" which is not the same as literacy in all studies, depending on how they measure literacy. Literacy often correlates more closely to fluency than comprehension in terms of how it's studied.

      •  Yes, but even privileged kids (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        have issues with reading comprehension.

        Which leads to illiterate adults who hate books.

        When more than half of the classroom instruction time is spent preparing for and taking worthless standardized tests, who has extra hours to spend on actual READING practice?

        "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

        by Brooke In Seattle on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 10:58:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some do. But as a Reading teacher, I can tell you (4+ / 0-)

          by and far, the students I see (at a fairly rich A school) in my intensive reading classes (for kids who fail standardized tests) are the free lunch kids. I see a few others who struggle, many of whom have learning disabilities, but even they have higher lexiles on average than the poorer kids who fail standardized tests. Those kids make up less than 20% of our school and more than 90% of my students. Studies bear this idea out as well. If you think Reading comprehension isn't directly linked to poverty, you're wrong anecdotally AND in scientific studies.

          As to reading vs. testing, I teach test skills/reading and I teach language arts. My language arts classes almost never take practice tests, etc. My test skills/reading classes are mandated to - and those kids still fail the test. Teaching to the test doesn't actually lead to better scores on the test per se, nor does teaching reading comprehension prevent students from succeeding on tests. It's a false dichotomy created by the fact that there's no good way to boost the achievement gap in our current system and some kids will always fail, as it is.

          Hating a book has little to do with understanding it, as the author of this post said. I'm an English teacher, and I was an English major, and I'm a published poet and author. I HATED a lot of the books she mentioned. Most of my students (remediated 8th grade LA and Reading) won't be able to read them when they get to high school no matter what I or their next teacher does. They will hate them too, but they will hate them indiscriminately because they don't understand them, as she writes.

          •  IMO, reading some books you HATE HATE HATE (0+ / 0-)

            (if you understand them) makes you a better reader. I know that reading those books I hate was helpful and formative to me as a reader, and I understand why teachers taught them. So I don't think there's necessarily a problem with introducing students to works they don't like.

  •  earthbyapril, THANK YOU (5+ / 0-)

    for a super diary. Rec'd and tipped.

    "Individuals need to know how to judge truth claims objectively; how to be skeptical; how to be avoid gullibility, nincompoopery, fraudulent and counterfeit promises; how to live with ambiguities and uncertainties." Paul Kurtz

    by Tennessee Dave on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 10:22:35 PM PDT

  •  That's an interesting list (14+ / 0-)

    I grew up in poverty, but was taught how to read long before hitting first grade. How much of that was because I was gifted in that area, and how much was that it was how my mother got me to sit down and shut up I couldn't say.

    But, when it comes to having someone around to care for you and getting health care, you have nailed it.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 10:38:00 PM PDT

  •  I can remember when I was in (11+ / 0-)

    elementary school and a classmate complained that her father told her she couldn't do something or another.  She was really angry.  I thought to myself, "at least you have a father".  I only had my mother.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:03:25 PM PDT

  •  Boy, that was my childhood too: getting grounded, (7+ / 0-)

    hating summer reading, (never had braces). I taught HS English decades ago in farm country, and I can't remember too many students who didn't read at their level. There were a lot of great kids, and I know how privileged I was there. Awesome diary. Welcome.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:29:41 PM PDT

  •  Good diary. (2+ / 0-)

    You make some very good points. I'm not quite sure about your extrapolation from the block-quoted points in #1 to the points about single parents and teen pregnancy. Given how many couples both work these days, having two parents isn't a guarantee someone will have a parent at home. Although, if that parent is unemployed, I'm not sure that reflects privilege.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:35:13 PM PDT

  •  It's not always what we see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, SilentBrook

    that makes the difference, but how we see it.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    by achronon on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:37:47 AM PDT

  •  Dental care is such a big one. My teeth are in (6+ / 0-)

    good shape now as far as care goes, but they are crooked and not the nice straight standard that is so often seen now, because when I was kid "braces" were an expensive luxury for the girls who wore Frye boots and had horse-riding lessons. Just not something we put on the list...
          So I have recently been explaining to my 5-year-old granddaughter that Grammy's teeth are "old" teeth and that that's why she and her brother & sister go to the dentist...Smile! My daughter, their mother, has beautiful teeth, after 3 years of orthodontics when she was young, but I had to remind her to start saving now because now she can relate to what it's gonna cost them for three kids with our genetics.
         I actually had a LOT of dental care as a child, enough to make me wonder one day when I grew up if perhaps I had been used for practice by the students at the Big University where I was taken for reduced-cost care...

    •  Dental practice! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Me too.  We got all our care sans novacane.  I always knew I was privileged to get dental care, good schools, summer reading and braces.  My mom made sure in many ways that we knew the rest of the world didn't have what we had and that we were very lucky.  I loved reading and I loved discussing difficult books in class.  I begged for braces because my teeth were so bad and I had to wait until I was 16 before I got them because my molars were slow to come in.

      Everyone! Arms akimbo!

      by tobendaro on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 03:59:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you. It's a class issue. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catleigh, SilentBrook

    So many diaries on this site attempt to use other factors to explain it, and I was afraid everyone had bought into their framing.

    When extra-terrestrial beings make their first appearance on our planet, and ask for representatives of our species to best exemplify humanity, I'm sending a nurse, a librarian, and a firefighter.

    by Wayward Son on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:44:12 AM PDT

  •  I just finished explaining this very thing to my (16+ / 0-)

    14 year old son, who is grounded, or as he calls it, "under house arrest".

    He's lucky to have parents who give a shit about him.  So, you're welcome, son.  You can have your phone back and see your friends when I feel you are less likely to act like a dumb-ass.

    Good diary, I wholeheartedly agree.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:44:27 AM PDT

  •  I worked in the summers (3+ / 0-)

    So I had no expectation of lyng in bed until 2:00 in the afternoon.
    I wouldn't think not liking some  book was a privilege because others may not have gotten it---everybody else could get a library card just like me, which is where I got most of my books.

    Having one or more parents or guardians; Living in the same home with one or more parents or guardians; Interacting with one or more parents or guardians more than an average 3 days per week; One or more parents or guardians having a working phone number
    I don't think thats privilege, I think its good luck and cultural and familial values that can be found in all levels of society.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 05:34:35 AM PDT

    •  You can't check out library books (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      if you don't have a safe place to keep books. You'd be surprised how many kids lack that... frequent moves, untrustworthy siblings, etc.

      There's also the issue of being able to get to the library to check out and return books. In my community the nearest library is a half hour away by car. Even when I lived in the city, it would not have been possible for a child to travel from our house to the library of her own volition.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 01:44:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A safe place to keep books is luck, not privilege (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the luck of the draw on who your parents were, what their attitudes were towrds books and education.
        Liking or disliking books is also a matter of taste, not privilege.
        I'm lacking the white middle class angst and guilt the diarist has, I grew up poor, joined the Army to get away from it.  And my mom ALWAYS made sure I had a library card, I have one to this day. It was my ID growing up.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 02:59:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Luck and privilege are not mutually exclusive (0+ / 0-)

          In fact they are two different things. Luck has to do with random occurrences that you don't control. Privilege has to do with the paradigms of the culture you live in. At its most fundamental privilege is defining certain characteristics (some of which are acquired by luck) as the norm, and everything else as not. White, non-white. Male, not male. If you are in the group defined as the norm, then you are privileged within this culture. You don't have to like it and you shouldnt feel guilty but it still exists.

          "Maybe life's meaning is not so much found, as it is made." Opus, by Berke Breathed

          by Lisa in Bama on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 03:09:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to disagree with this one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattc129, kurt

    You know, there's a saying at another online community I am part of, "A person's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle." It's one thing to remind people that their complaints are acting spoiled, ("I didn't get the lunchbox I wanted for my birthday in the COLOR I asked for!") and another thing to downplay struggles such that saying, "Well some people are WORSE off" doesn't really help.

    Dealing with braces is hard-- I appreciate that because I won the genetic lottery of NOT needing braces. The social environment of high school can be destructive regardless of how much wealth of privilege you have access to. Reading at grade level is, by definition, not "privilege" because the normal expectation of the capabilities of the school is one that is supposed to ensure that the students perform at "grade level."

    You can also play this game infinitely. You could pick the poor student with married parents and call him more privileged than the even poorer child of a single parent and so on. But I have no doubt that the first student is struggling and worried about an uncertain future, as well. Invoking privilege can come across as an excuse to downplay the struggles and needs of middle class and working class students whose families, too, are struggling to get by and need more resources from the school system. The poorest of the poor exist, but their existence does not mean that the other 75-90% are floating on a cloud of privilege. They need good safe schools too that are positive environments.

    And, of course, I could call myself even MORE privileged than you because my parents wouldn't LET me be out at all hours playing "flaming ball of death" and made sure we were doing things over the summer such that I would not sleep in until 2pm.

  •  i think this is diluting the concept of privilege (4+ / 0-)

    I don't see how whether or not your parent's are divorced is a privilege.  When I was growing up in my poor neighborhood, most of my friends had divorced parents.  When I got bussed into a middle class/upper-middle class neighborhood, the divorce rate dropped from many to nearly half - still a crappy rate.  Yeah, divorce can potentially screw up a kid, but I am not making the connection between parents getting divorced and privilege.

    additionally, having or not braces (or its extension, adequate health insurance/access) hardly qualifies as privilege.  the poor and working poor are equally denied access to health care based not on the color of their skin, but on their ability to pay.  i live in NC and whenever i take trips to appalachia, i can see the role of poverty and dental health quite clearly.

    and books?  maybe this is a proxy for disposable income or transportation?  a paperback book is $6, less than $1 at a used book store, and free at a library.  are you serious that the issue here is privilege and not parenting choices and child preferences?  granted, when I was growing up, many things were cheaper, but books haven't increased in price since then, and their actually more available now than ever before.  

    I am sorry, but it seems to me that what this diary is inferring is that anyone that is better off than anyone else it is because of privilege.  I don't mean to be critical - but maybe choosing a different word other than privilege would have been better.  If I am wrong, please let me know.

    •  "Privilege" isn't the same as racism. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nathanfl, burlydee, peregrine kate
      the poor and working poor are equally denied access to health care based not on the color of their skin, but on their ability to pay
      Google around, there are many discussions online about different aspects of privilege (which all intersect). There's the privilege of being the 'normal' color (white), the 'default' sex/gender/sexuality (hetero male born & raised), class(/economic) privilege, etc.

      When you look at these various issues -- the things which certain people (because of their class, race, position in society, whichever) take for granted which others are denied -- when you look at them from the viewpoint of the 'don't have's', all these things  look like privileges. Privileges which in most cases some people have simply because of how/where/to whom  they were born.

      Yes, all the things (generally) talked about as 'privilege' should be considered rights. And many people, especially those (IME) who argue about the word 'privilege', assume that these things are a matter of natural rights, not benefits. Most people here at DKos would agree that things like food, shelter, education, health care, (not being routinely hassled by authorities) should be available to everyone -- but in the real world, they aren't. Through no fault of their own, many people simply don't have these things, aren't afforded those rights.

      People with (whichever) privileges aren't at fault, either. You didn't choose most of the circumstances of your life on which these privileges are determined, either.

      •  But some people here like to define privilege as (0+ / 0-)

        anything above being alive. They think the naked caveman is baseline and the caveman with a loin cloth is privileged.

        What's the baseline? Does one's personal baseline change depending on how he or she grew up? I think it does.

        For example, I grew up in a solidly middle class environment. Luckily for me, my educational baseline was ability to go to college. I still had to take out some loans and both I and my parents made contributions. So to me, the kid whose parents paid cash for their college education are privileged, even though I'm informed enough to know that college education as a whole is still rarity for the country.

    •  I don't think divorce = lack of privilege either (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, elfling

      (as a child of divorce) but then I lived with my Mom who remarried my awesome step-dad when I was young and I got the 2-parent family. I also got a leftover type family (my bio-dad and his wife) who I knew on a lesser level. So for me it was almost a bonus - definitely, since I'm closer to my stepdad than either of my parents - but I think having a single-parent household does put someone at a disadvantage in many cases. One parent just can't do it all. And divorced parents are usually not amicable and able to cooperate in parenting IME (personal and observational).

      I don't think she's tying divorce rates to race. Perhaps to poverty (and there's some truth/correlation there, as more educated and wealthier people have a lower % chance of divorcing). I think also 2 divorced upper-middle class people have a different set of circumstances than 2 divorced or never married barely-making-it people.

      •  That may depend on the local social environment. (0+ / 0-)

        In some areas, having divorced parents may ust be having divorced parents. In others, with different social patterns and religious backgrounds, divorced parents might mark a child as 'that poor thing who is never going to amount to much anyway' or 'the kid you should never let your kid work on school projects much less play with if you can manage it'.

        Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

        by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:07:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  just a minor quibble (9+ / 0-)

    most dental insurance does not cover orthodontics. We paid the whole amount for our daughter's braces. Luckily, the ortho took payments of $150 a month, which we just finished paying off a couple weeks ago. Yes the ability to pay that is privilege compared to someone wondering where their next meal is coming from, but it is also part priorities. We don't drive new or fancy cars or live in an expensive house or have expensive clothes, etc.

    (not sure where it's coming from, but I do admit to feeling a bit of vague, undefined resentment that what we have worked for is considered "privilege," which kind of infers someone just handed it all to us)

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:47:03 AM PDT

    •  THIS! Statement right here: (0+ / 0-)
      (not sure where it's coming from, but I do admit to feeling a bit of vague, undefined resentment that what we have worked for is considered "privilege," which kind of infers someone just handed it all to us)
      This is very important.

      I was not the poorest kid in my school, but definitely in the bottom 5 percent. But there are people I meet, who assume because of the color of my skin, and my literacy, that my life has been easy as pie, no drama, no trauma, and no hard work.

      That's bullshit of course, but who wants to have a contest to see who the biggest victim is in that discussion? No thanks.

      And as poor as I was, and my spouse came from a very poor family too, we had friends who thought that our families were rich.

      Our parents worked all the time, round the clock. We had gardens to feed our families, we both helped make preserves, etc., and in his case, he hunted to put meat on the table.

      There is always someone out there who has it worse. But that doesn't mean that the bit of luck you have, or the hard work you have executed makes what you have acquired meaningless, that you should feel bad about what little you have.

      The negative side of this talk just puts people at odds with each other, fighting over words when we should be standing by one another to raise the bar in reality.

      Also when people are derisive of me, because they *IMAGINE my life has been on a silver platter--really they are just assuming the worst about my character and I do resent that.

      I don't want to wallow in this, I fervently want to help fix it.

  •  In some ways I was privileged, (8+ / 0-)

    in some ways I was not. Sure, we had food, and I had two parents, one of whom was home much of the time. But my father was an alcoholic who was often violent. My mom did her best but she had some issues from her own health and relied heavily on me to help with my siblings (and some days I had to protect my siblings from her because she was unstable at times due to her health).

    It's not the same as living in poverty (my kids live in poverty but in many ways are more privileged than I was), but having privilege in some ways does not mean a better life. My youngest sister was actually more privileged as a teen, because my mom and dad divorced and she didn't have to put up with his malarkey. She only had one parent and my mom was often at work when she got home, but she wasn't living in fear.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:12:21 AM PDT

  •  I believe I was the only one in my class (5+ / 0-)

    who really liked "Silas Marner."

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:50:54 AM PDT

    •  You are my hero, Upper West! (6+ / 0-)

      Nothing spoils teaching George Eliot at the college level more than the fact that students have hated reading Silas Marner in high school.

      Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

      by feeny on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:14:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I almost hated Dickens because of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Square Knot, Upper West

      Great Expectations.

      Despised it when I had to read it freshman year of college.

      If I hadn't discovered Hard Times the previous year - and if an English teacher in high school hadn't shown the video instead so she could fit everything into the time before an End Of Course test that required Great Expectations - I wouldn't have felt like giving him a second chance.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:04:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Privilege? Seems to me the sperm donors who (4+ / 0-)

    get off impregnating woman after woman with absolutely no responsibility forced on them by society are the "privileged" ones here.

    When do we ever talk about the real problem of single-parent or no-parent homes?

    The real problem is that our society gives a pass to all the men out there who father children and then abandon them.

    Then, those children become our collective problem and bring all the other problems with them growing up in that environment.  

    Personally, I'm getting a little tired of giving these guys a pass.

    •  I have two issues: (0+ / 0-)
      "Privilege? Seems to me the sperm donors who get off impregnating woman after woman with absolutely no responsibility forced on them by society are the "privileged" ones here.
      The way in which you write about this issue makes it sound as if the women being impregnated have no choice in the matter, which I find a rather worrying assumption. Should we not hold the women in question equally responsible?
      The real problem is that our society gives a pass to all the men out there who father children and then abandon them.
      My understanding is that the nation collectively spends some five hundred million dollars every year on enforcing child support orders, but only ten million dollars on enforcing visitation orders. Similarly, there are numerous punitive mechanisms in place where failure to pay child support may result in the confiscation of the payer's driver's license, or even imprisonment. No part of this arrangement strikes me as a free pass.
  •  I can barely count the ways I was privileged (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Square Knot

    all through school.  I'm the child of writing educators, one of whom was also a journalist and editor.

    so I came into school reading like breathing.

    I also never had to worry about money or food.  I was a well dressed kid.  I was tall, thin, and athletic.  I wasn't a minority in any school I attended.  I was an in-crowd floater.

    and with all that, I HATED school.  not for any social reasons though:  I found it stifling to sit there for hours hearing about things I already knew.

    This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

    by mallyroyal on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:27:06 AM PDT

  •  The "you know whos" always (4+ / 0-)

    like to say, "they just have to lift themselves by their bootstraps".  But these sad children do not have any bootstraps and neither do their parents/guardians or the neighbors.  No boots or straps for the poverty class.

    USA, number 1, NOT.

    United Citizens beat Citizens United

    by ThirtyFiveUp on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:50:28 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting + a comment on privilege (0+ / 0-)

    I posted a reply to a comment above where I detail my life history in brief (26, white male, grew up middle class) and how I also think that someone's definition of privilege can change based on the social class they grew up in.

    To me, I see someone whose parents pay cash for college as privileged, but that's because my "bottom" was I was still able to go to college, just with loans and other contributions. I still fully recognize my advantages and know that most others cannot even consider college. I guess I just wish everyone could have basic necessities and opportunities.

    What gets me is that a lot of people here define a privilege as anything above being alive. Like the naked caveman is the baseline and the caveman with a loin cloth is privileged.

    That type of classification is what makes myself and others pause a bit. While I'm very lucky to have had the upbringing I had, and I fully acknowledge my advantages, earned and unearned, I don't consider all aspects of my life to be privileged.  Nor do I feel like I should apologize for it, which a few members here think I should.

  •  On #3... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    I had several books I hated, but those assignments were always books that were available in the school library.  Teachers were not allowed to assign reading not available in the library.

    I really hope that is still the policy at that school.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 10:56:15 AM PDT

    •  That can still be a problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We had kids dependent on the public library for summer reading, and whie the books were available....

      Well, let's just say that at least one grade in each of a dozen schools having to read a book of which there are maybe three copies each in the same number of libraries, plus an unchangeable date-due system where the books only turn over 4-6 times during summer break? Not a good combination.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:01:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Tonedevil

    As a current teacher in the Bronx, who was raised in a stable family in the suburbs, I would recommend this 100X!

    "I'm a hopeless're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

    by AndrewOG on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:00:14 AM PDT

  •  What is sad about privilege to me (0+ / 0-)

    is that the things that are now privileges used to include more of the middle and lower classes, the two parent households for instance. That left another person to shuffle rides, add a paycheck, or help with homework. The stuff we have to pay for now that didn't used to be a financial burden in school: sports, field trips, projects. And the one that really gets me is the school physical. I understand the liability but it seems everything nowadays is a liability. It used to be just bad luck, but now there HAS to be scapegoat for every bad thing that happens in a kid's life where a new rule, law or requirement is added, which only exacerbates the problem of privilege. I am so glad I had my kids a long time ago, but I fear for what my grandkids may someday face.

  •  Thank you for your beautiful essay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and reflections. It's very easy for so many of us to take for granted the daily exposures and interactions we had as children that make our lives easier now. And it's hard sometimes to imagine ourselves or our parents, without any of this in our background, and appreciate how hard it would be to blaze a pathway to this, without the landmarks we or our families had.

    A meta-thanks to my own parents, who, without being priggish about it, managed to convey daily their appreciation for what made our lives better. We knew about the GI bill that helped put a roof over our heads and paid for my dad's doctoral studies; the state-funded community colleges and state colleges that my mom attended while I was a kid to get her teaching credential; the public library and the devoted librarians who kept me supplied with books; the teachers who went home and worked hard at night so they could do better for all the kids in their classes.

    My parents were grateful, and they tried hard to give back to the community. So do we. Headed over to do intake again this evening for the homeless shelter. And if, heaven forfend, I ever started to feel or show disdain for any of our guests for being in need of help, my folks (at 97 this year) would remind me of my own privileges, simple and obvious as they may seem.

    •  Capitalism fails at social investment, same as (0+ / 0-)

      it fails at restraining criminal gangs.

      The G.I. Bill would never pass today's Republican Party madness.

      The same holes pushed deregulation for the most critical industries: investment banks, pharmaceuticals, guns.

      And yes, the free public libraries got the big push from Andrew Carnegie. But he was Scottish.

  •  2 Things That Should Never Be A Privilege (0+ / 0-)

    EVER -- items 2 and 3 -- because we as a nation have more than enough resources, but unfortunately also more than enough selfishness and lack of empathy.


    by raincrow on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:31:00 PM PDT

  •  I hated The Mill on the Floss (0+ / 0-)

    My son had to read something over last summer, but he chose The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  And inspired by the nit-picking details of the assignment, he compared whoever wrote them to the Vogons.

    When he asked me what The Mill on the Floss was about, I told him it was about a teenage girl cutting her own hair, treated as a scandal equivalent to how we think about getting pregnant today.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 01:06:44 PM PDT

  •  2 out of 3 myself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was never grounded, but mainly because I was a quiet, obedient kid.

    But I'll admit I was aware of being privileged from the beginning.  I was aware I lived in a very nice suburb of a wealthy area (Washington DC) and that my parents were well-off by national standards, if not by Metro DC standards.  I knew even as a 3rd grader there were plenty of countries, and even placed within the US, that were much worse of than we were.  And since my parents were Democrats, I also never had the delusion that other people's poverty was somehow deserved, or that somehow my parents were harder working than the parents of my friends who weren't as well-off.

    All your vote are belong to us.

    by Harkov311 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 01:30:32 PM PDT

  •  more than this (0+ / 0-)

    though not only couldn't I afford braces, I had to borrow assigned books from the library.

    We did not have the money for the braces then; I still don't (now they'd be well into five figures, according to the dental surgeon who last gave me an estimate, in 2009; back then they would have been in excess of the price of a good used car).

    Being a white kid living on a farm for all but 1/2 of one semester of my years in school before the Air Force, I took for granted bus rides that came with enrollment, and being able to get into town to the public library once a month or so.

    Now libraries are being shut down.

    Now we're watching sequestration take away simple pleasures, too -- the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds' entire seasons are cancelled.
    The GOP thinks they're being tough on waste?

    They're being idiots.

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 01:42:25 PM PDT

  •  Your comment about a kid never having seen a book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, peregrine kate, zett

    reminded me of the stories my mother would tell when she was teaching kindergarten & pre-K at an elementary school in a very poor area.

    She was required to teach the students letters and numbers and work on their literacy, yet the students had a nearly nonexistent functional oral vocabulary.  For example, one day a small boy came back in tears from the bathroom.  My mother could not for the life of her figure out what was wrong - she tried guessing everything and the little boy kept sniffling, "no".  He kept saying, "It's the thing you put your hands on," and eventually my mother finally figured out that the bathroom was out of paper towels.  The kid had no words to describe paper towels and had never seen them before.  Yet he was supposed to be learning letters and pre-reading skills?

    Often one or more of her students would get left behind at the end of the day - with no parent, sibling, friend, relative, to pick them up.  The school would call and call and couldn't get anyone to answer or to come get the kids.

    Let me add another marker of privilege: Homework.  I know I certainly liked to complain about having to do homework.   But the ability of the teacher to assign homework successfully depends on many things: the presence of an educated older person to check or assist with the homework; the presence of an adequate location in which to do the homework; the time to complete the homework; the possession of basic school supplies at home, etc.  When I volunteer-taught at an impoverished middle school, one young girl kept falling asleep in class and hadn't done her homework.  When asked why, it turned out that the cops had raided her block (she lived in the projects) and they'd been at the jail until the wee hours of the morning trying to get bail posted.  We were pretty cash-strapped when I was in high school, but the cops never raided our neighborhood and we never spent the night hovering between the jail and the bail bonds place.  It is sad that that is "privilege" - but it is.

  •  Fine, thought-provoking diary. (0+ / 0-)

    Clearly you are thinking a lot about the concepts of relative privilege you're writing about here; thanks for sharing your ideas with us. I hope you continue to write and spark dialogue on the site.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 02:02:51 PM PDT

  •  Why would a student have to buy a book for school? (0+ / 0-)

    Curious about this:

    3. Hating A Book You Were Assigned in School
    Unspoken privilege: The means to purchase one or more books of your own
    If I was assigned to read a book in school (K-12), the school provided the book, as well as paper, pens and pencils, crayons and crafts, etc. Of course, this was a loooooooooong time ago, in a San Francisco far, far away...
  •  That is a powerful diary. It's the same sort of (0+ / 0-)

    stories a close friend used to tell me when she taught in TN.

    The healthcare things irks me, but the dental care issue is a big one. Certain Baggers like to go on and on and on about how dental care is almost all cosmetic.

    The truth is, that dental care is intrinsic to whole body health. With bad teeth, comes chronic infections. We know this about dogs and cats, why haven't the worshippers of the protestant work ethic figured this out?

    And cosmetic? If you mean by cosmetic, that no one will hire a person with bad teeth because they assume that the person is a tweaker or worse--that's beyond cosmetic. This isn't a boob job for a live in mistress. This is something simple--so one can smile, eat, and not die of heart problems in their 40s.

    We have people DIE in the modern age of abcesses. Remember when that was one of the tragic things that only happened to prehistoric children that we dug up for archeological purposes?

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