I am aware that this was developed for use in a university setting, but it seems to me that the list is very questionable as more than a very blunt instriment indeed, and does not do very well at anything other than, perhaps, differentiating the traditional American middle class nuclear family from anything that is not that.
I illustrate by doing... there's hardly a single question I can respond to without questions and qualifications. The instructions are to bold that which is true, but it doesn't tell me which part of my childhood or youth I'm to consider. Since I went through several changes of class before hitting 18 and/or finishing college, both of which events are mentioned in this list, I'm going to have to discuss what was true for me when.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. (If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.)1. Father went to college.
(That is, my most likely biological father, whom I have never met and who hasn't had any effect on my life experience, and who did not at any time, to my knowledge, contribute to my financial support. My mother's husband, who had a profound effect on my class status for the first few years of my life, did not attend university, but did, I think, attend some community or vocational college. In Canada, in the 1950s, this is a huge difference in class.)2. Father finished college.
(See above. My putative biological father not only finished university, he taught university, which is what he was doing when he got his student, my mother, pregnant. She had to leave school, of course. This was the 50s.)3. Mother went to college.
(See above.) 4. Mother finished college.
(Much later, when I was around nine or ten, she completed her BA and her MA. She got her PhD when I was about 16, and got her law degree when I was in my early 20s.)5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
(See above. On the part of my biological father, this would have had zero effect on my own class or access to professional class privileges or values while growing up. My mother taught constitutional law later in life after retiring from a long career in the civil service which started when I was 10, after she finished her MA - but that had no effect on my class or access to professional class privileges either, as it happened after we'd pretty much stopped speaking altogether. I have other relatives, but I had little to no contact with most of them, ever, and most of them, I have no idea what their profession or occupation might have been. I was raised for a time by my maternal grandmother, who was completely estranged from her own family. My biological maternal grandfather was an engineer - definitely professional class in the 1920s and 30s, but since my grandparents divorced when my mother was two, he's not a class influence. My grandmother ran a whorehouse during the war - what class would that make her - do you know? I certainly don't. The only one of her husbands I even knew was her last, a farmer who did not complete grade 6. He helped raise me at some points in my life.)
All of these questions assume a stable nuclear family, or at least a family in which one's relatives are ongoing influences. It assumes that you know who your parents are and stayed with them throughout your childhood, that changes in family structure such as divorce or death of a parent did not affect your family's circumstances.6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
(By the time I was 11 or 12 and my mother was fully established in the professional class and out from under the debts her husband had dumped on her, yes, I was the same economic class as my teachers.)7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
(Yes, even if many of them were second-hand or my mother's textbooks when I was very young. Having a very strong aspiration to complete her own education and move up in class, my mother went to some lengths to provide me with access to the cultural advantages of the class she wanted us to become accustomed to. She did without so that I could have books, when we were poor. She gave me as much money as I wanted to acquire books once we were middle class.)8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
(See above. By the time I left home, the walls were covered with books, hers and mine.)9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
(My mother read a lot to me when I was very young, but as I began reading spontaneously when I was about three, she didn't continue this once I could read on my own. She did, however, encourage me to write.)10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
(Yes. But (there's always a but)... I had free gym lessons for a while when my mother worked for the YMHC in Montreal. Later, I had more free sports and gym lessons for a while when my mother's husband worked for the YMCA in Saskatoon. I had some free piano lessons courtesy of a friend of mt mother's who was paying for a Conservatory student to come and teach her two daughters - she let me sit in and use their piano for practice. I had some free art lessons when I was young becasue many of my mother's friends were struggling artists and she'd let them come to dinner sometimes. I had free swimming lessons through a community pool. And later, in high school, I had a whole year's worth of private art lessons that I arranged for myself by doing housework and shopping for an artist I'd met through some school program.)11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
(See above.)12. The people in the media who dress and talk like you are portrayed positively.
Often people who talk like me are (but more often than not their voices are baritone or tenor or even bass rather than contralto or soprano), but never people who dress and look like me.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (This really didn't happen in the 60s, unless you were really upper class.)
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.([Edit] I neglected to discuss the whole issue of paying for university. I first went to university when I was 16. When I started university, I was still living with my mother, who paid my tuition. The universtiy I attended was located in the city I lived in, so I lived at home and my mother continued to pay all my living costs. However, I dropped out at mid-term, left home and hitchhiked around the continent for a while, having many adventures on little to no money at all before deciding to go live with my grandmother and go back to school. Still estranged from my mother, with my grandmother unable to help me financially, I managed to win a scholarship that covered tuition and room and board (in residence). I got a job working nights in a pizza joint to cover all my other expenses.)
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs. (See above) 16. Went to a private high school.
(For one year. On partial scholarship. My mother's husband lost the money that was supposed to cover the rest of it gambling, so I wasn't welcome back the next year, and they withheld my prize for best student in Form I becasue the bill wasn't paid. I should be glad that they didn't kick me out at half-term.)17. Went to summer camp.
(For one summer. When my mother's husband had a job with a summer camp and staff kids were allowed to attend free.)18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
(When I was going to high school, Greek was still taught in some schools. I loved Greek. But after my first year, it was phased out at my school. The Greek teacher, out of the goodness of his heart and for no pay, allowed those of us who wanted to continue to drop in on him to ask questions, run drills with him, do assignments and have them marked, on our own schedules. Does that count?)19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.
(After my mother joined the professional class, all the time. Before then, in summer, we camped. In winter, we stayed in cheap motels.)20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
(The older I was, the more likely this was to be true, but as an only child without any relatives living nearby, during the entire childhood, most of my clothes were either bought new or, more likely, made by my mother.)
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. (When I was around 25, my mother gave me her older car when she got a new one. I've never owned a new car in my life. Note how this assumes that one's parents were able to maintain a car.)22. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
(As I mmentioned, many of my mother's friends were struggling artists. Plus, both my mother and I painted. After mother pulled us up into the middle class, she sometimes bought original art from unknown artists whose work she liked.)23. You and your family lived in a single family house.
(Once, for a couple of years, we rented a small house in Saskatoon. Also, my grandmother and her husband lived in a farmhouse in rural Nova Scotia during the times I lived with them. The rest was apartments and flats.)
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home. (My grandmother's husband owned that farmhouse. My mother has never owned any houses to the best of my knowledge, except for the farmhouse which she inherited and sold when my grandmother died. At 52, I've just bought my first house.)25. You had your own room as a child.
(I was an only child, so this was mostly true. But even so, for a while, I shared a bedroom with my mother, after she divorced but before she paid off the debts. And for a time, when I was quite young, we all lived in a bedsit, my mother, her husband, and me.)26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
(Once my mother was well estabvlished as a professional, yes.)
27. Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course. (This was, again, something only for the very upper crust when I was young.)28. Had your own TV in your room in High School
(Yes. A very small, portable, black and white TV.)
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College. (Hah! I have only just this year, at the age of 52, been able to begin an RRSP, which is the Canadian version of an IRA.)30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
(My mother used to fly me home to my grandmother's whenever, for whatever reason, it wasn't possible for her to have me with her. Once I was into my teens and we were middle class, we flew often when vacationing.)
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
(When I was young, yes, on free admittance days. When I was older, often, particularly when we travelled.)
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. (Since we usually rented, there were for the most part no heating bills, it was included in the rent. I did have a basic idea of how much rent my mother paid and how it compared to rents in other kinds of housing. And of course I knew how much it took to buy a cord of wood for the wood stove at my grandmother's farmhouse.)
One of the assumptions in this list that hits me the hardest when I try to answer, aside from the whole issue of assumptions about family structures, is the assumption that one either gets access to intellectual experience (books, classes, private schools, art, museums, etc.) as a privilege or not at all. What about all the people who managed access, but it wasn't through privilege but through a combination of luck and planning and getting in through the side or even the back door, or even just looking very intently through a window, for some. I wasn't privileged to have access to cultural knowlege, my mother, during my childhood, fought hard and found unconventional ways to get me access. But I always knew I didn't always arrive through the front door, and so, while I have the knowledge, and I now have many of the privileges that knowlege has enabled me to access, I feel differently about it than someone who got those initial experiences as entitlements. I imagine there are a lot of people that got their intellectual privilege the same way.
For more discussion
of the unexamined assumptions in this list, check out Elizabeth Bear's journal (matociquala