• White, Middle-Class Student Identity Privileges

    Posted on February 17th, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    As I read McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, I couldn’t help but think about the privileges I have had due to my family’s middle-class economic status. The article also made me think about the privileges I have had as a white, middle-class student in the classroom.

    1.     Each school you attended had up-to-date educational materials (textbooks, computers, chalkboards, etc.) as well as a well-respected faculty.

    2.     Your parents enrolled you into countless sports and/or extra-curricular activities as a child to expand upon your abilities (athletic, artistic, etc.).

    3.     You were encouraged to learn outside of school through reading books at home or even going to local museums/plays with your family.

    4.     Your parents may have paid for a tutor to enhance your academic abilities (SAT/ACT prep tutor).

    5.     After you graduated high school, you were expected to go to college.

    6.     You were expected to attend an academically competitive college (mainly Ivy League).

    7.     If you made the choice to not attend college, your parents would allow you to stay with them (AND continue to pay for your living expenses).

    8.     It is assumed that you will attend graduate school after acquiring an undergraduate degree.

    9.     You may not have student loans to pay off when you graduate.

    10.Your academic ability is never questioned because of your physical appearance/qualities.

    11.You have the ability to walk into a 500-person lecture hall  (or any classroom, for that matter) and “blend in” due to your physical appearance.

    12.You are expected to have a life plan that goes something like this: graduate college, have a successful career, get married, and start a family (especially if you’re a female student).

    The list of privileges as a white, middle-class student that I have compiled has made me realize a key factor in my success as a student: My parents have always had a huge presence in my educational endeavors. My parents have always gone above and beyond to help me succeed in both academics and extra-curricular activities so that I had the opportunity to attend college. Their financial support is something that I have taken for granted, but parental support (financially) is pretty customary in the area where I grew up.

    Not only do these privileges provide overall success to build a life of equal or better economical status as your parents, but these privileges also create pressure to be perfect. In severe instances, you are expected to maintain a 4.0 GPA while balancing three seasonal sports, countless school clubs, and community service activities. There is an automatic pressure to impress your community, your family, and your peers. In my community, this unspoken pressure has lead to many heartbreaking instances of self-harm (drugs, alcohol, suicide). So although the white, middle-class student may seem to have a “charmed life” from the outside, in certain instances it is usually much more complicated than it seems.