Political Correctness Week continues with this essay from a college student who addresses the changing notion of privilege, and the same old stigma of a private education.
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These days a prep-school education is something that is met with hostility by the general public — especially one’s fellow college students. Even though I currently attend a private university in New England with rowing, sailing, and squash teams, my friends and I that were privately educated often have to dance around the question or give a vague answer when asked, “Where did you go to high school?” We are often made to feel guilty of where we went to school, as if a private education was akin to wearing a sign on your back proclaiming you are an elitist. Furthermore, it seems as though whenever people hear that you went to a prep school, they automatically deduce that you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, an “entitled WASP,” so to speak.
This is false, however, as several of my friends attended prep school on scholarship, are of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.
For example, my Choate-educated friend who wears Lacoste shirts and khakis every day like he was born in them, is Indian. Another friend of mine who attended New York’s prestigious Regis High School is an African-American from South Brooklyn, while another, who attended St. Paul’s, is of Filipino descent. Additionally, my father’s Jesuit preparatory education was financed by my immigrant grandparents, who had to work overtime in factories and New York City subway terminals in order to afford it.
In an era where people tend to lash out at others over the slightest disagreement, and are quick to call others a slew of insults (at least for my generation), I would say that specifically PC culture’s concept of privilege needs to change. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the term “white privilege” thrown around, when in fact privilege has no color: it’s simply a matter of socioeconomic status. Many impoverished, uneducated whites in rural areas can attest to that.
For example, I attended prep school with the daughter of a Yale-educated African-American physician who drove an Alfa Romeo, was a member of a country club, and was in a social circle of traditional WASPs and other well-to-do African-Americans. Similarly, every day at school I see Chinese and Saudi Arabian students driving to campus in Maseratis, Porsches, Audi R8s, and even Bentleys.
I would also argue that privilege manifests in different ways. Yet if one were to ask, “Would someone who received a scholarship to a college preparatory institution or was a minority still receive judgment?” the answer is yes. Regardless of being a less-fortunate minority or not, the stigma of elite schools still exists among the general public. And yes, the students would still be labeled pretentious or elitist, regardless of their socioeconomic status or racial background.
In today’s world, it appears that academic merit — and good fortune — isn’t politically correct. — ALBERTO CASTIEL III
Al Castiel previously appeared on Ivy Style with his school paper on The Andover Shop and J. Press. He runs the site Regattas & Repp Ties. He is half-Cuban and half-Dominican, via Spanish Jews on his father’s side.