Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pretty Privilege

Since eighth grade my friend Dominique and I always discussed hosting a clothing swap. For the uninitiated, a clothing swap is an event to which guests bring their old clothes and swap them for the other guests' castoffs. Getting this event together was something that we were always semi-serious about. We liked the idea of free clothes and recycling, but always had the feeling that these sorts of events were only hosted by rom-com protagonists who somehow lived in Manhattan lofts on cupcake bakery salaries, not mere mortals like ourselves.

With college and summer on the horizon, though, our demand for clothes was increasing and our supply of capital was decreasing. This unique set of conditions allowed us to get into the perfect mindset for organizing a bona fide clothing swap. Coincidentally, I had noticed in one of my frequent perusals of the Seventeen website, that the Green Your Life! section was also pushing for readers to organize swaps.
This double coincidence was rom-com perfect. Dominique and I, along with our friend Mallory, finally organized the clothes swap, which was held last night at the upscale fashion boutique known as MyLivingRoomDiningRoomAndFoyer, thanks in part to the massive cooperation of my mom and dad.

The swap started at 6:00 pm. Between the three of us, Dom, Mal, and I invited about 150 people on Facebook, about half of whom replied attending or maybe attending. Honestly, we had no idea how many people were coming, which was incredibly frightening. Luckily, at 5:45 pm the sky let forth what can only be described as a torrential downpour, which led to only 20 girls showing up. Even more luckily, these 20 girls brought over 2000 articles of clothing. The swap was in business.

I wore a fishtail braid and Seventeen's suggested over-the-knee sock trend, which unfortunately wasn't captured in any photos. Once the swap was in fully swing, guests sorted their clothes and were allowed to take home as much as they felt they were entitled to, based on how much they brought. This system worked out surprisingly well. Uncharacteristic of rom-coms, there was no hair-pulling or cat-fighting between those two girls who both absolutely had to have that one pair of boots/earrings/pants. Everyone was amicable, and everyone who came went home with a big bag of clothes for free.

The swap ended at 9:00 pm and we spent the next hour bagging the unclaimed clothes. Overall, we managed to fill six trash bags with items to donate. Ideally, my friends wanted to give the leftover clothes to thrift stores that benefit victims of sexual assault and domestic violence who live in our region. Upon phoning those stores, I learned that they're overwhelmed with donations, and that a few of them actually send all incoming clothes to India on barges to be recycled. This is ridiculous and incredibly ironic, but I have better things to do than protest women's shelters for their poor environmental practices. I ended up putting the clothes into one of those metal boxes in the YMCA parking lot so that they could go to needy families in the area.

Hosting the swap got me thinking a lot about privilege. In stalking myself and this project a little bit in the press, I've noticed how some people are quick to discredit my opinions based on the fact that I come from a financially comfortable background, with access to opportunity. Privilege is defined as a special benefit not enjoyed by everyone. What I find interesting is the portion of this definition with which people find fault. I've noticed people tend to be more offended by the special benefit part than the fact that this benefit is not equally distributed. For example, I've noticed that people who cannot afford access to a private college are often quick to reject the merits of a private school, instead of considering that it could possibly be beneficial if the opportunity of private college were available to more people. (I am not saying I necessarily agree with either side of this dispute-- I am just saying that the system may not be the problem, but rather the lack of mass access to the system.)

The clothing swap was definitely an event that could only be hosted and attended by people with means enough to have spare clothes in good condition to swap-- people with some degree of privilege. I guess what I'm getting at is that instead of focusing on what opportunities privilege includes, we should be focusing more on who privilege excludes. Instead of calling privilege out as a negative trait, the far more progressive option would be to begin to work on ways to bring the opportunities that privilege provides to more people. By simply reframing the way that we think about and discuss privilege, it would lead to an environment far less conducive to finger pointing, and far more open to problem solving.
Edit: There is some good discussion going on in the comments!


  1. Glad the clothes swap went well last night, Jamie! I saw a lot of people wearing their new swap clothes today in school. Of course, I didn't know that they were -- Dominique told me.

  2. I absolutely love what you have to say about privilege. You're right - that's the progressive option in terms of solving financial/social injustice. Unfortunately, as a society, I don't think we're at that point yet. To be at this point, one has to recognize and admit his/her/hir privilege. I've been involved in many discussions where someone proposes what xyz group should do in some situation, and is completely blind and deaf to the fact that they might have the social and financial capital to achieve whatever end that xyz group does not. You can't solve a problem without acknowledging it.

  3. Very true. I think if we rebranded privilege as something that didn't necessarily carry a stigma, though, then people might not be so hesitant to own up to it.

  4. Just the fact that you are aware of your privilege puts you light-years ahead of a lot of other people your age. It also sounds like you're comfortable discussing it, but that you're confident enough to not apologize for it, and I admire that. Some people are lucky. Some are not. But to some extent, it's what you DO with that luck that matters.

  5. the clothes swap sounds fun. I'm the most petit of my friends so it wouldn't work out. :) very cool though.

  6. I'd also like to note that it says "Print This Tip!" in the Green Your Life section. Presumably this is about recycling & reusing and causing less waste... Oh, Seventeen!

  7. Jamie, while I like your idea of working on ways to bring privilege to more people (and I have definitely been in conversations that end because of privilege finger-pointing instead of coming to real solutions), I think that erasing the "sting" or stigma of privilege by "rebranding" it, erases the weight of colonialism and institutionalized racism. This is an important history and an important part of our culture and society that anti-racist allies are trying to address. Please don't whitewash privilege by rebranding it! There is a reason why people with privilege are so defensive about having it - they'd like to be viewed as individuals, not as part of a power structure that systemically oppresses other people. But they are. Addressing privilege is painful, but rather than avoiding that pain (the lack of privilege, and being denied opportunities is a pain that can't be rebranded, btw.), perhaps the sting and discomfort of the feeling of shame and guilt of privilege can be used to prompt people of privilege to work to dismantle barriers.

    I don't think that discomfort is a bad feeling all the time, not when it can provide a catalyst to change.

  8. I understand what you are saying, but I still disagree. I might be overly optimistic, but I do believe that for the most part, people with access to opportunities are not trying to systematically oppress those without. Some people are, the the vast majority of priviledged peopele are just victims of a prestablished way of thinking. Obviously, forgetting a history of colonialism and persecution would be a grave mistake. Instead, I think it would be far more productive to form a new modern understanding of privildge that used it as a basis for the extension of opportunity, not grounds for finger pointing and argument. I don't see the purpose of preserving issue for the sake of having something to fight about. Activism to me seems to be about actually solving problems,

  9. Sorry about all the typos, I'm on my phone

  10. But many people are unwilling to recognize that privilege even exists. And the concept of privilege never claims that "people with access to opportunities are not trying to systematically oppress those without." It says that the system that both hurts people without privilege also rewards people with unearned benefit. The idea is to move away from saying "poor people are poor because they're lazy" and realizing that racism/sexism/all other "isms" not only hurt some people, but it also helps some. If we refuse to see the flip side then we'll never get to the "modern understanding" in which all people have a responsibility to changing the system (and I would argue that the concept of privilege as a whole is pretty modern).

    Don't get me wrong, I can totally see why you would think what you do. A lot of times the concept of privilege is thrown around like an insult which is wrong IMO. There is nothing bad about having privilege. We're all privileged in some way and no one can help being privileged. It’s simply a reference to the systematic unearned privileges a person is given based on factors they can’t control (race, gender, etc). To hold one's privilege against him/her is no better then holding some one's race against them. But I always get a little nervous when people start focusing on privilege (or at least the premise of it) instead of the people who are benefiting from the systematic racism/sexism of our system. It kind of seems like you're saying that if people who agree with the concept of privilege (and we can't forget that not everyone does) would be less inclined to point out that certain people have privilege then there would be more opportunities available to people. So basically it's the people who point out privilege that are the problem. That seems wrong to me. Activism isn't always about solving problems in the sense that you mean. Enlightenment must come first. Without bringing our collective consciousness to a new level how can we ever hope to change the system?

    I hope is doesn't seem like I'm being argumentative towards you (though I am kind of an argumentative person lol). I'm just trying to further the conversation. Your blog is great.

  11. I came across this blog from a 'best of the internet' type of web community, and I'm really impressed (and okay, maybe a little jealous, but in the good way) with your critiques and your self-reflection at an age where I was sneaking out of my parents' house to hang out at a Denny's.

    Are you familiar with Tim Wises' work? I was blown away by an amazing speech of his that explained that his ability to do the work he was doing, vis a vis racial inequalities, was a direct result of what white privelege afforded his ancestors. To me, that has become a powerful argument when trying to explain privelege to people who say they don't 'get' it - that where you are today is, in a large part, due to past racism that gave (or denied) your ancestors certain advantages.

    I do agree with you though, on the feeling of what to do once you've started to unpack your privelege. Okay, I'm white, I'm straight, I'm cisgendered... What course of action do I take? How do I mitigate the effects of my privelege against those who don't have it?

  12. Interesting/related re: privilege:

    "But traditionally, the Germans don't dare to feel good about their riches. A German would — by and large — never display his wealth too publicly. Being rich, one might think, is not necessarily viewed as a sign of success, but more as a flaw, something to be hidden rather than displayed."

    I think this might support what rockabunny supports about discomfort with your privilege being a catalyst for change.

  13. I know Jamie and her parents are educated people who work hard. You should all know she is far from spoiled. She has opportunities, yes, but makes the most of them, many don't.

  14. Jamie,

    You and your blog make me think and make me laugh every day. Thanks!


  15. If you're talking about privilege when it comes to a clothes swap event, it seems like you're missing a huge one: size. In fact, I can't find the word 'fat' or 'size' in this entire article. Clothes swapping is something that is impossible to do if you're outside the average size range of your friends group - or for that matter outside the average clothes sizes at all, whether you're super skinny or super fat. It's probably more difficult if you are fat, because clothes that are too big can still be adapted to some degree with enough sewing skills. Imagine your friends organising a clothes swap, and knowing that with your size (say, 20? 26? 34?) you can't fit any of the clothes, is incredibly depressing. And no, 'lose weight' isn't the answer to that problem.

    Think about that privilege for a while - that you have the kind of body where you can easily swap clothes with people.

    Of course, us fatties are just going to have to organise clothes swapping events with other fatties. There's that option.

  16. Hi Jamie! I'm reading this up from the beginning on the advice of Jenn Pozner--she does brilliant critiques of reality shows--and I'm so glad I am!

    It wasn't so long ago I myself was a teen (I'm only 21 haha), so a lot of this is still fresh in my mind.

    Might be interesting to follow up with a study of Cosmo, which we all know is like Seventeen with more sex.

    Anyway, I totally agree with you re: privilege. I'm so sick of people going "oh you can't say that, you have PRIVILEGE!" or "your privilege clouds your eyes" or whatnot. Everyone with access to the internet is inherently more privileged than like 5/6ths of the rest of the world or something by virtue of computer access, ability to read, etc. But never mind that. Your suggestion to wonder more about how to include everyone else, instead of chiding people for something they can't really help, is great.

    Keep on keepin' on!

  17. @Anonymous June 11 6:09 PM

    Having privilege does not mean that one is spoiled, and being spoiled does not mean that one does or does not have privilege.

  18. This is my first time posting, and I just want to say I think it's awesome to find a blog where a kickass, articulate, young feminist is out discussing these things.

    The biggest myth about American society is that upward mobility here is open and democratic- that anyone can succeed with a little hard work. In my opinion, the underlying reason why we're uncomfortable with owning up to our class privilege is because it would undermine many of our fundamental American institutions, like higher education, and would lift what Marx would call the false consciousness of our beliefs in the American Dream and equal opportunity. If we all started critically thinking about class in America, really taking action on it, we would have a complete revolution in the way our country functions. Absolutely everything would have to be restructured.

    Think about it- how often does your school or workplace have seminars or discussions about issues involving race/ethnicity, gender expression/sexuality? Now how often do we discuss class? Obviously race and sexuality and gender are all very important issues that we must continue to work on, but in my opinion class stratification is THE root problem in America. Class is about more than economic privilege and manifests itself in many very different ways. It's difficult to talk about because we don't know how to, and because it would cause us to question next to everything in our lives.

  19. This is such an intriguing project, and the discussion of privilege that's going on here in the comment section is fantastic. Peggy McIntosh has written about "unpacking the invisible backpack" of privilege - it's often necessary to do so in order to enact positive change (rather than negative or "status quo" change). If you want to read it, it's online at

  20. I agree, another teenage feminist. Anon 6:09, I think you're thinking of privilege in a different way than it's being used here. Jamie is white; she is attractive; she is thin. She is (at least) middle class. (I don't know her, but I'm actually inclined to say more upper-middle class, based solely on this blog.)

    Her parents are educated because they had the privilege of having been able to received an education. They are hardworking partially because they have the privilege of having jobs.

    Now, of course, these are not negative things. (I almost said it's not her fault, but I didn't use that wording because it implies that there's some sort of fault to be found in being a member of the privileged group when there isn't.) The fact that Jamie is able to recognize her privilege (and, consequently, the lack of privilege afforded to others) is great and, while I sometimes disagree with her posts, I think her project is interesting and thought-provoking.

    However, that doesn't change the fact that no one in a privileged group can possibly understand what it's like to live every day as a member of a non-privileged group. One of the things I like about this blog is that Jamie acknowledges that and doesn't act like it's something she can understand. One of my pet peeves is when people wear a fat suit, act poor, etc. for a day and speak as if it's changed them and they now understand the struggle. (As seen on talk shows like Tyra, etc.)

    Ugh, I am rambling on. But, I'm glad there's been such a good discussion about privilege and what to do about it in the comments.

  21. We've got a trade deficit with India and China- container ships are heading back to their ports from the US not completely loaded, so the additional carbon costs of hauling recyclables back are pretty negligible.

  22. Jamie, this project is definitely an interesting read.

    You advocate that we should work together to bring privilege to more individuals -- that seems great and all but I just wanted to add that once 'more' people have that 'privilege', it is not longer seen as a 'privilege'... and something else would take its place.

  23. this is really interesting, because I'm reading comments that reflect a lot of my learning process in different stages over the years. I have a lot of respect for Jamie and the commenters for being willing to engage in conversation about what privilege is, and the why and how of acknowledging and dismantling a system that creates oppression and inequality.

    Jamie, I think you have a profound kernel of truth in your statement, "for the most part, people with access to opportunities are not trying to systematically oppress those without ... the vast majority of priviledged peopele are just victims of a prestablished way of thinking"

    YET - THAT is precisely how the system works. As someone with privilege (and if you're alive and reading this, you have SOME privilege in your life - uh, and if you're dead and reading it, please don't let me know). It's really hard to see the privilege we receive, because it seems normal - but it's up to each and every single one of us to be aware of the daily impact of our assumptions about what we have access to and how we should be treated ... not to feel bad about it, but because being aware makes you better able to see and address inequity - which allows you to be fully present and human with others.

    Also - domestic violence shelters tend to be underfunded and understaffed these days. They generally don't have the person-power available to accept and sort through clothing donations or the space to store them, and often they need sizes and styles that aren't getting donated. I used to sort clothing donations for a shelter, and eventually we just had to stop accepting them, because for every bag of nice clothes, there were five bags of disgusting stuff - dirty underwear, used diapers, greasy rags.

    I love that you wanted to donate to them though ... if all people who donated were like you, we never would have had to stop taking them where I worked.

  24. Uh - and after that long rambling post, I meant to say that I think your project is great!

  25. Have you been reading my mind? I think ALL THE TIME about why it is that most of my peers are quick to dismiss a person with money as a silver spoon baby and nothing more. A spoiled brat without any intellectual value, a walking trust fund with no perception of what it feels like to struggle. If you have more than $5,000 in your bank account, it's ironically gonna be real hard to prove your worth to most of my friends. Hell the number's probably a lot lower than that.

    I think I understand why this is. It's an overcompensation of us trying to feel okay about being underpriveleged. To explain, my upbringing was quite different from yours. What your mother spent on your prom is more than my father made in a month when I was little. Until my mid-20s, I was just like my peers in my skepticism and judgment of money. I was all about that Robin Hood concept, just like a lot of poor people. "They don't deserve that much, give some to us".

    I only recently started to understand capitalism. Until a few months ago, I thought I would die poor because I was born poor and that's just the way it is. But I met some people and read some books that opened my eyes to the fact that I am perfectly capable of obtaining all the wealth my heart desires...I just need to figure out how to do it.

    It's frustrating to try to convince underpriveleged people that money can be a very good thing. By waiting tables and going to protests for the rest of your life, you're making a small difference. But imagine the difference you could make if you were a millionaire. Imagine what philanthropy you would be capable of. I find myself explaining this very simple concept to so many people I grew up with, in a bad neighborhood in a big city.

    Regardless of my personal discoveries, people are going to keep hating others for having what they don't. The question is how do we make the resources of the rich available to the poor?

  26. I think privilege carries great responsibility. Recognizing it is the first step. I'm so happy you are on the planet!

  27. Your article is such an eye-opener for me, and I hope it will do the same for many more along the way as your blog grows in popularity. I found your site via
    I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2009, I fled from my husband, whom I was with for 8 years. All I was able to take with me was $11 and a bag of clothes. I am 29 years old.
    I had to rebuild my life from the ground up. I found a small group of Domestic Violence advocates who helped me to get my life back.
    Clothing swaps and donations are the only reason I have nice clothes to wear (even now, and my life has been a legal and financial struggle that began in August '09 - but it has been a LIFE OF FREEDOM). I wore clothing that was donated to me when I went to my job interview (only one of them, because I GOT THE JOB!), and I am still wearing that same wardrobe today.
    A lot of people helped me on the way. Friends that I had never met before made sure that I would have a good Christmas, and a bed to sleep on when I got myself an apartment of my own (I was homeless upon leaving, having nowhere else to go, and a 4-year-old daughter, which I found out that many women's shelters will not take in).
    I am very privileged that I had the resources (what little I did have) and opportunity to leave. I am privileged that people reached out to help me get my life back. I am privileged that I had advocates *at all*. There are thousands of women and mothers like me who don't even have the privileges that I do, and those women never see any kind of justice, and their only option is to:
    1) Stay in a domestic violence situation (where the possibilities include further sexual assaults and attacks, the possibility of being killed, etc), -or-
    2) Leave, and become homeless, destitute, and further victimized (by street criminals or even organized criminals, poverty, or even having your children taken away from you by CPS because you're homeless). I'm not just talking about Americans, either, because it's WORSE in other countries whose legal systems laugh in the face of women's rights.

    Even though clothing castoffs may end up being recycled in a place like India, at least it is being received there at all, which (for all I know) could be helping a charity like Rapha House.

    Good on ya for doing what you are doing. Your writing is fantastic and definitely stimulating to one's intellect. I'm loving the discussion that is happening here.
    - Your newest reader, Rebecca

  28. Experience has taught me that even at my most thoughtful, when I am challenging myself to see through the privilege I've been afforded, there are things I'm missing. One of the luxuries of privilege is that we have a choice to see certain things-- I think you deserve credit for being on that journey, and seem open to continuing to see and address things you don't have to. Anonymous @802 is right-- that is a first step.

    Also, as someone who has mostly stopped ever reading comments on blogs because they are pretty much ALWAYS ugly, I'm impressed. You've invited a lot of comments that evaluate your personal life because you've been honest and open enough to share it, but I think really none of them are ad hominem (or totally random and mean) attacks. Kudos for attracting smart comments.

  29. Enjoying the blog.

    I will stick up for women's centers, as I used to manage the resale shop that benefited our domestic violence/rape crisis agency.

    The clothes we sold to the rag trade (which were then eventually shipped overseas if they were not used in paper products here) came to us soiled, torn, smelly, and beyond repair. We couldn't afford to accept dirty clothes - no facilities or staff or time to clean them - but people would sneak them in no matter how carefully we screened. Some people would simply drop ten or twenty bags of mildewed clothes, used undergarmets, etc. outside our doors when we were closed.

    We'd then have to pay to throw them away, so when we could sell them (and not all buyers would take them) we had to in order to make pennies from them rather than pay dollars to dispose of them.

    It wasn't fair to the women we served, and it wasn't fair to us. People would get upset when we wouldn't take their broken beyond repair furniture, or torn and permanently stained clothes, or shoes missing heels, etc., and I'd spend time listening to their complaints rather than work to raise money for the women we served. We actually ended up closing the resale store - we couldn't afford to be a dumping ground, and we found a better way to get clean clothes and nice furniture for clients.

  30. Ditto to the above comment as well. I work for a domestic violence and sexual assault center as well. We have a thrift store that we allow all of our victims to shop at free of charge. The only clothing items that we discard or sell to the "rag guy" are ones at are not wearable. You would be surprised how many stained/ripped/ruined things we have come in. NO ONE wants a pair of stained panties...why even donate that anywhere? We put that stuff right in the trash! We still take all donations, but it does tax our system with unnecessary items. Hopefully it will remind everyone to only donate things you would wear yourself.

  31. New to the blog - I think it's well done!

    With regards to the discussion regarding privilege, I keep going back to this comment you made in your post:

    "I am just saying that the system may not be the problem, but rather the lack of mass access to the system."

    Coming from a BA/MA in sociology, I would go back to the argument that we (privileged, educated women with access to resources) have what we have because other people don't. While I agree that we need to focus on issues like access, I think we also need to acknowledge that the privileges we have are possible as a result of the other peoples' 'have nots' - it would be impossible for everyone in the world to live the way we live. So while I think it's important to have these discussions about renegotiating access for those with less, we also need to think about how the empowering of the less privileged people will force us to change our consumption of natural/intellectual resources (in a positive, more sustainable way).

  32. On the clothing swap-- if you had consigned the leftover clothes to Plato's closet or another resale shop, you could have donated the money to a charity of your choice. Entrepreneurial enlightened capitalism can work to make the world better.

    On privilege-- when you get to college, you will find that the most privileged students are sometimes the worst off emotionally. A loving secure functional family is a much greater privilege than a big fat trust fund.

  33. Backing up the comments about shelter donations, if you do choose to use the bins in parking lots, you need to be really careful about whose bins you use. Really, I would recommend not using them at all, because even though the bin might be in the parking lot of a reputable charity, it isn't necessarily operated by one. I live in Chicago, where all the charity bins are owned by GAIA, which, according to the information on their bins and website, sell donated clothing and shoes to raise money for schools and hospitals and other good things in developing nations. They do not do those things. They may sell the donations from the bins, but the money they raise goes to themselves. There are some really good articles about this online, especially from the Chicago Tribune.

    Just something to keep in mind when trying to get rid of clothes, especially if you're concerned about the longterm impact of your donation.

  34. I Stumbledupon this site, and upon reading two posts, just HAD to share it with my friends. I come from a similar background as yours, and can relate with many things you write about in this blog. I want to thank you for writing about stimulating topics, and encouraging smart discussions (This blog actually led to a lengthy discussion with my friends about privilege).

    I have lived a privileged life, and I have to say that I do not apologize for things I've had. This statement comes not from the belief that others shouldn't have those opportunities, or that those privileges make me better than others, but from the conviction that, even though those privileges have shaped my life, they are not the core of my persona. What I mean is, I'm more than those privileges, and while I am proud of what I've done with the privileges I've been given (I've taken advantage of my private-school education, I have not laid to waste the things I have been given, etc) I am more than a privileged girl. What I am though, I have not yet concluded.

    Discussing this with my friends, we have come to the conclussion that the whole conundrum of privilege comes from the pre-existing cultural, political and economic condition of a group/class/nation. In our case, as Puerto Ricans, we have acknowledge how privilege separates the social classes because of cultural experiences that stem from the enslaved and colonized condition of our people.

    I sincerely thank you for taking a project about a teen magazine to WHOLE other level.

  35. Privelege itself isn't a negative thing if it is fuly taken advantage of. The privelege of others can be and has been beneficial to everyone. Priveledge means not having to work as hard for your money, which means leisure time, and leisure time is what brought us art, science, philosophy, mathematics, sociology, psychology, and every other field outside of agriculture (advances in agriculture being what brought us leisure time). Work in each of these fields trickles down to the masses and is beneficial to them. Privelege is what affords generous people the ability to help others. Level the playing field and everyone struggles to survive.

    Privelege is definitely a pain in the ass when its some handsome white man went to college even though he didn't need to because he has a cushy executive postition at his father's company waiting for him regardless, and he recieved scholarship money that could have gone to someone who needed it, and he only makes a few charitable donations for the tax breaks and puts the rest into his multimillion dollar home and ever expanding garage.

    BUT if he uses his privelege to start a foundation or do research that could benefit others it's a very good thing.

  36. @ marigold,

    i agree with most of your post and understand what you mean with respect to our consumption of natural resources (i.e., maybe farmland shouldn't be used for growing grains used to feed our cows and instead might be devoted to growing crops for the poor...etc), but i'd be curious to read more re: consumption of "intellectual resources." is the developed world bogarting all the smart people?

  37. Just discovered your blog and its very interesting to read. You are one very intelligent young woman and you are going to do very well in college and go on to great things.

  38. @anonymous re: marigold:

    I'm curious about the consumption of intellectual resources as well. I didn't realize that intellectual resources were a finite/non-renewable resource.

    Increasing access to intellectual resources would increase accessiblity to such 'priveleges' as higher education.

  39. My friends and I just had a swap party, worked perfectly, and so much fun, but yes, we were priviledge to have hosted it.


  40. interesting project. just wanted to chime in on the donations of clothes issue: from what i gather, living in a "third-world" country, the world is, essentially, overwhelmed with clothes to the point that the charitable organizations, the thrift stores, etc. don't have much use for them. clothes today are produced, sold, and discarded at a rate that means even the "needy" are dressed--perhaps not well-dressed, but dressed nonetheless. oftentimes donating clothes becomes a way for those who can afford to buy new (or even new-to-them) clothes on a regular basis (or, faster than their clothes are actually worn out) to purge their consumer-related guilt. but sending all those clothes to some unnamed, faceless "needy" people doesn't actually rectify any of the problems this overabundance of clothing has created. if you sniff around you can find a few articles in mainstream media that have been written about the problems the fast fashion and secondhand clothes industries have created.

  41. For anyone interested too, this is a really great book to read Jamie - 'Where We Stand: Class Matters' by bell hooks. I think it could be the next stop in the process of deconstructing and reconstructing your knowledge of your social self. Also, always keep in mind that this is all a heavy load to sift through as a teen. But in the next few years, and in engaging with your new community within (and most importantly, always outside too) your university ideas and identity will all fall into place. Of course, to say they 'fall into place' is an over statement as they only 'fall into place' through the activities that your already participating in.

    Let me know where the book (and scholar) takes you - Paulo Freire is another keeper too. Though, your already learning the most fundamental part of living happy and acting effectively - understanding the social intersections where you are privileged and where you are oppressed. (ie. you may be economically privileged, yet also belong to a minority gender - yet the intersections are important too, as your class privilege intersects with your identity as a women). Recognizing, interrogating and claiming your own myraid of social identity will enable you to redefine the oppressions you personally experience and (at the same time) act as a true ally towards the oppressions other face (through listening and reading to their own presented interrogations). Its a complicated, never-ending, often uncomfortable process but hey, thats what being an honest member of your community (community, as in everyone) is all about.

    And I have a lot of respect for you to enter into your own recognizing, interrogation and claiming PUBLICALLY on the internet. I could never, ever have done that. Myself, at 22, is only commenting publically in homage to your brave style! Always keep the fact that your initiating public discussion while you yourself learn central whenever you hit any sort of road-bump or frustration!

    Take care my girl, and be in contact if ever an inkling (via facebook)

  42. Your blog is amazing and the comments here, insightful. So many here said it better, but thanks for sharing your work and thoughts.

    I think the root meaning of the word privilege was "private law;" the right to rule yourself and enforce your laws over others (within the larger social framework). A Lord had rights over his land and his tenants, so to speak.

    If privilege today means the right to pursue opportunities unhindered by the societal limitations that hold back others, then there is no shame in being privileged by itself. The shame seems to lie in not wielding privilege for the sake of those not privileged.

    And just to make matters more complicated, there are many ways in which people are privileged. Each of us has privileges over other people -- we all do -- but some of these privileges are systemic and habitual. I think it would be great if we each rose to the task of wielding our individual privileges.... and the sum of these actions might lead to equality in opportunity.

    Things like this make me think of a Mother Teresa quote I once heard. (From the internet: ^_^) "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." Positive action trumps negative reaction, if you get what I mean.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, all. Good luck with your blogs, Jamie, and wherever your mind takes you.

  43. I am privileged/advantaged in being white in the US and rarely getting racist hatemail (I get a lot of hatemail but almost none of it based on my race. When it is based on my race, it's based on my Jewish ethnicity.)

    I am advantaged by having an above average IQ.

    I am disadvantaged by having a disability. I am disadvantaged by living in poverty.

    I think most of us experience varying degrees of advantage/disadvantage and agree that bringing more people into the advantaged group is the goal.