Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Unequal Childhoods’

Earlier this semester I attended a panel in which three first year students were asked questions about their impressions of the first year reading and speaker series on campus for an audience of faculty and staff, many of whom had planned the series and will be involved in planning next year’s series. The panelists included a white American, a white Western-European, and an Asian. All three students handled themselves well but, in comparison to the American student, the two international students spoke less, and less readily. For example, it was common for the international students to speak only when asked a direct question, while the American often interjected after one of the international students had spoken. I got the sense that this student was raised with the middle/upper-middle class “concerted cultivation” style that Annette Lareau discusses in Unequal Childhoods, leading to comfort in interacting with the adults in the room.

After the panel, a staff member approached the staff member I was seated next to and, noting that a committee they were on needed a new student representative, commented on how well the American student would do in this role. I have no idea whether this student was offered the position, but it struck me that the doors of opportunity were already opening for this brash, white American mere weeks after arriving on campus. It also struck me that if student representatives on various campus committees are chosen for their cultural capital, the voices of first-generation and working-class students are likely not being heard in these spaces. If it had been up to me to choose a student committee member, I would have chosen one of the quieter students whose voices need to be amplified on campus. The voices of privileged white Americans are already heard loud and clear.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links from a privileged white American via your news feed.

Read Full Post »