Opening my Eyes to Privilege

I was able to attend Dr. Margaret Hagerman’s presentation on the research she compiled into her book titled “White Kids: Growing up with privilege in a racially divided America.” She did her research by spending time and interviewing the middle-schooled children, parents, and community members from different parts of one city area who were all Caucasian- American. She wanted the answers to the following questions: “how do white affluent kids learn about race, racism and inequality?” and “how does white racial socialization lead to the reproduction of racism and racial inequality?”. Her research showed similarities of what I learned in class about white parents pushing schools to get their kids into advanced placement classes even though some of their children aren’t ready for it. This leaves only so many places for seating often creating very unbalanced classrooms racially. These same parents structure their children’s lives by deciding the schools, churches, activities, neighborhoods, peer groups, and elsewhere. These actions shown by the parents show how much significant impact it has on shaping the children’s views on race, even if the parents say all the right things. Of the three neighborhoods, the first one called Sheridan was the upper class living area which produced very limited and creates many misconceptions on the children’s views including some thinking racism doesn’t exist anymore. The other two areas had some more opportunities to integrate the children’s lives with others of different races, but there were still instances where parents made choices that led to shaping their children by white racial socialization to give them mindsets that still lead to future social reproduction of these same views on racism. While wanting to be a good parent is important to do what is best for your children, it is important to be a good citizen where we can raise our children to be one who will challenge inequity and racism. This is important because sociologists know very little about how social reproduction of racial inequality are reproduced through generations. Those ideas that are passed down continue through the future careers and decisions made such as which neighborhoods to live, and with our social media access today the issues of race are quickly noticed allowing more opportunity to talk and learn by everyone. It’s not up to just a few people or just one race to bring more resolution; it requires everyone to work together.

That was represented in my own life as my parents made choices similar to ones discussed at this research presentation and helps show some perspective on the privilege I had growing up. I also loved to sit and discuss various topics of life with an old roommate of mine during sophomore year of college. He is black and was open to talking about the differences we both experienced growing up and in our daily lives. He helped me understand so much more and it started by being open to talk about life.

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