Lucky

I don’t think the public education system is fair. As it is today, I don’t think it has the potential to help every kid reach their potential for success.

This opinion is mainly based on the grading system. The public school (kindergarten through 12th grade) grading system is created for one type of learner: the machines. Me and mom talk about everyone as a creator or a spit back. When I was in school, mom said I was a mix, but mostly a spit back. (Now I’m blossoming into my full creator-ness, but that’s a topic for a different post) Spit backs are built to memorize things and regurgitate them. That’s the formula for getting good grades in high school. You study, you get good grades. You memorize the vocab words, you get an A. You memorize the math formulas and practice problems, you get an A. You memorize facts in science and history, you get an A. Essays were more about regurgitating what you learned than making an argument.

People who don’t learn by memorization and regurgitation are at a disadvantage. I got lucky. My brother isn’t great at regurgitation. Not his fault. Getting good grades is harder for him because of it. That’s not fair.

I hate building things. I hate educational games. I used to hate figuring things out. I like instructions. I love lectures. I still love lectures more than anything.

Other kids might have gotten As and I might have gotten Cs if we were graded on finding solutions without instructions, doing hands-on activities, and that kind of stuff. I got lucky.

Speaking of luck, let’s talk about white privilege. First of all, don’t say it’s not a thing because it’s a thing. You know why it’s a thing? Because “white privilege” is just a term for the statistical likelihood of a white family making more money and living in a safe neighborhood is greater than the statistical likelihood of a black family who makes more money and lives in a safe neighborhood.

I’m lucky to be born into a family in upper-middle-class America living in a safe, suburban environment. I’m very spoiled compared to low income urban families. My only tool against being spoiled is appreciation. I feel that it’s important for me to fully accept that I’ve been spoiled and appreciate how safe and happy my childhood has been. I continue to try to constantly, deeply appreciate my family and our luck (and/or blessings) when it comes to my Notre Dame education and the job(s) it will get me. Yes, it takes work for me to get where I am, but it takes a heck of a lot less work for me to get this point compared to other people. I don’t have a scholarship to go to Notre Dame. My parents have paid the last 4 years. Yeah, I agreed to be an accountant before I pursue my true calling so I could pay them back my half, but that’s not sacrifice. My parents are still paying half my $300,000 tuition (realistic estimate after interest). I will be paying my parents back while at a cushy job that will pay my cell phone bill, feed me, and teach me everything I know to make more money than I should. I have friends at Notre Dame that could only go here with a scholarship. I am lucky. I am spoiled. I am so, so appreciative.

Class is a big part of it. Class isn’t all of it.

I am more spoiled than middle class or upper-middle class person of color. They have had to deal with people who treat them differently because of their race. This could be anything from straight up won’t-sell-to-you racism to “You’re Mexican, right? Where can I get the best tacos?” If your skin is brown in this country, people will assume your race and make comments based on their assumption. Society identifies the main races: Latino, Black, Asian, and White. From PFresh, I’ve learned that the stereotypes and cultures vary significantly within those groups. Puerto Ricans and Cubans hate being called Mexicans. Ali Wong, a comedian, referred to Chinese and Japanese people as “fancy Asians” while referring to Vietnamese and Filipino people as “jungle Asians.” Though the black community seems to band together according to social media, there are distinctions between “light skinned” people and “dark skinned” people. My friends have told me that there’s an assumption that “light skinned” people are somehow “less black.” In my experience, I’ve always been “white.” Yeah, I’m Irish, Polish, German, French-Canadian, and Norwegian, but I just refer to myself as “a white mutt.” I don’t identify with any of those nationalities outside of a joke between me and Cory that I’m more German and he’s more Polish (I love that joke! It’s because our 5th grade heritage projects turned out differently. I tend to be more angry and aggressive. He tends to not match and be silly.) Dealing with people assuming your race and culture sounds terrible. Since I’m white, people will make fun of me for running a hip hop group. As a white girl, I’m made fun of for liking fall, Starbucks, and Taylor Swift (I like a few songs – I’m not a big fan). Those are not bad things to be made fun of. They barely qualify as negative at all.

I’m straight. I’m really happy with my sexuality. People who do not identify as straight tend to have a much tougher time and will continue to have a tougher time.

I was born a female. I like being a female. I don’t match all the female stereotypes. I’m a little power hungry, bossy, aggressive, etc. My parents make fun of me for the acne-reducing pill I take that reduces my testosterone level. I have to pluck/shave some hair on my chin. None of that has a significant negative impact on me. There are people who are not comfortable being the gender (sex? etc?) they were born with. Those people certainly have a tougher time than me.

I’m a female. Does this qualify as minority status? Kinda. Should it? I really don’t know. Society’s pushing for equality but they also seem to highlight how girls are more at risk for sexual assault. I’ve never experienced real sexism. Old male professors wink at me, and it’s awkward. That’s about it.

Now let’s talk about American middle-to-upper-class privilege. Whenever anyone in my town, my school, my environment says anything about hating their lives, the listener’s automatic response is, “Think about the children in Africa. They would be so grateful for the roof you live under and the food you eat.” True, this shouldn’t be used to completely ignore someone’s feelings – that’s called emotional neglect. However, it’s true. I try to always focus on accepting that I’m spoiled, and appreciating what I have.

It’s not my fault that I was born into a middle class family, or that I’m white, or that I’m happy being a straight female.

I understand my privilege. I appreciate the safe, happy life I’ve been able to live. I pray for those who are not so lucky. I find it extremely important to be kind and respectful of all people, and respect that they may not have the same privileges.

I don’t know what to do about white privilege besides be a good person.

I’m not informed enough about economic classes, but I am part of the group that’s trying to reduce social preference on white people. I encourage social preference on good people who respect people – no matter your color, gender, sexuality, etc.

That’s all I got for now. I’m really hoping to have more later.

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