I have talked before about how my parents were not well off when I was growing up. Though with them, it’s always hard to know where not well off ends and “must save because we both have major security issues” begins. But probably 50/50 on that, because even though I was born 10 years into their marriage, they got married young, neither of them had much, and they got married during an economic downturn where dad had trouble finding work, and mom had to do a lot of things like buy a knitting machine and knit sweaters from previously unraveled sweaters for local farmer families to survive. (She’s paying for that work now, as it more or less destroyed her shoulders. But we survived.)
So they were still really tight when I was little, and were saving and investing and slowly turning things around. By the late seventies they were doing okay.
Anyway, this is going to sound really weird to an American audience, but–
Portugal when I was a kid had a class system for education. I don’t mean as in school classes, I mean classes classes. If your parents could afford private school, you’d be going on to college unless you really, really, really screwed up. If you were in public school…. well, not so much.
This has all changed but back then there was only the public university which was “free” — the catch being if you had the grades to get in, you had the grades to get scholarships in the US back when scholarships were by merit. For my degree, which was not highly coveted, btw, the rate of applicants to those admitted was half of one percent. Things like medicine were tighter.
At various times grades, exams or a combination were used to get you through.
And along the way in the schooling there were various points at which you were shunted away from the college path as hopeless. The first was fourth grade, second was ninth, etc.
And yes, a lot of it was discrimination, and economic discrimination. Because the public schools didn’t teach, or not at the level you needed to get to college. If your parents weren’t wealthy enough to send you to private school but wanted you to succeed or even get to ninth grade, they hired “explainers” — aka tutors. Without those your chances were tiny.
Now, looking at it, you’ll go “Shouldn’t the schools be reformed?” Well, sure. But …. unions, etc. I know it’s different now, but I suspect it’s mostly lipstick on the porcine critter and the fact there are private colleges which offer a lot of …. more or less useless degrees. (A degree for everyone, seems to the the international version of a chicken in every pot.) Mind you I had some excellent teachers, who performed above and beyond the call of duty, and a number of them who are still on the little list — though they’re probably dead, the cowards.
One of those went on a rant to my 11th grade class (keep in mind not only had we gone through 3 cullings already, but that class was actually in an academic magnet school. Never mind) telling us we shouldn’t be there. If we wanted to go to college we should have been born to parents who could afford private school. The lot of us, the children of petit bourgeoisie should become cabinet makers and seamstresses (note the recommendation of professions that were, in the early eighties, being made obsolete by factory made, and you have the measure of this woman.
She was our socialist Sociology teacher, and yes, I hated her cordially and found ways to insult her that she never fully understood.
Yes, I made it to college. Yes, I completed my degree way faster than average (by about three years) and was if not top near the top of my class.
And do you know why? I did it because no one told me I lacked privilege and should be given special breaks, special considerations, and that the children who had been lucky enough to attend private school should be hobbled to give me an opportunity.
To be honest, I also did it because I lived in fear of what mom would do if I didn’t. It’s like, I’m not the fastest runner in the world, but if I were running from a man-eating tiger, I’d probably put on amazing speed.
Oh, my other bit of luck? I wasn’t a different “race” from the rest of the people. So my success or failure couldn’t be laid at the feet of privilege or racism. And I couldn’t have horrendous and unredeemed racists tell me that I was naturally inferior, and other people had to stop being competent so I could catch up.
At fifty eight, I know precisely what I am and what I am not, and the limits of my intellect as much as the limits of my body. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work because the couldn’t work because my mind shouldn’t bend that way.
And I know that the degree I got ultimately pushed into was entirely unsuited for the way my mind works. I am — despite all appearances — not good with languages. I am good with Portuguese and English. All the rest takes so much effort and maintenance that I let it rust away.
Honestly, I shouldn’t have entered college, much less graduated. But I worked unreasonable amounts of time, put forth more effort than anyone should, and…. well…. It worked.
Though at that age, I’d very likely have taken the “They shouldn’t be allowed to be better than you.” I’m glad no one offered it.
What I actually studied was much of a waste. I have worked a total of 2 years out of 35 in my actual field. And all the literature part of the studies did was make me have to unlearn a ton of idiocy before I could write saleable stuff.
But learning to learn; learning that I could succeed despite my natural (and social) disadvantages; learning habits of mind and of scheduling? That was invaluable. Without it, I certainly wouldn’t ever have been published, or persisted despite several boots to the face and kicks in the teeth all along. And that– that is invaluable.
This is brought to you this morning under the “I’m so tired of this sh*t” as some bright boy at some university has decided cycling is “racist”.
It brought to mind all the other insults, including that exhibit — where was it? In the Smithsonian? — about how punctuality, studiousness, effort, were all “white supremacy.”
And I’m soooooo tired of this sh*t.
If you had to come up with an idea/philosophy designed to put everyone not-white (meh, depending on the light and if I’ve been in the sun, most people assume I’m not white. Though I’m not that dark for Portuguese. Some of these dingbats only consider pale people “white” being as racist as Hitler. And yet, they also talk about whiteness of many colors, because being racists they can’t conceive of anyone who tans succeeding) in a place as second class citizens, convinced they can never succeed, convinced their ancestors have ALL been victims forever (and proud of it, which boggles the mind) and unable to help themselves, what would you do different from Critical Race Theory. And if you took CRT seriously, WHY wouldn’t you be a white supremacist, since whites are held to be the only ones who do anything useful? Or can do anything useful?
Mark my words if that evil philosophy is tolerated and taught, we’ll see real white supremacists in power and pogroms of anyone who can tan before the century is out.
But, more importantly, we will have destroyed the minds, the abilities, the lives of countless people who are deemed victims and in need of help simply because they don’t blister in the sun.
Well, you know, I never told that teacher, back in eleventh grade where she could put it, but I want to tell all the lefties who call themselves anti-racists while promoting myths of racial capabilities that would make Hitler cheer that they can put it where the sun don’t shine. With spikes. Covered in ghost pepper juice.
I guess when they said “they want to put you back in chains” the left was projecting as they do. And mental chains are the worst of all.
As for me and mine, and for everyone out there who is willing to live and die as free men (and no, we’re not playing that game anymore. Men in this case is gender neutral, for the whole of humanity), no, we are not going to let ourselves be limited by our economic situation, our lack of access to information, or — of all stupid things — our degree of tan.
We will reach as far as our minds and our ability to work will take us.
We’re casting off our shackles and flying free. Privilege? What privilege? No privilege has been invented that can’t be matched with the mind, the willingness to work, the sheer can-do of a free American of any color. We don’t want other people hobbled. We are removing our own shackles.
Anyone having a problem with that, please address themselves to my uplifted middle fingers. I’ll paint them red, white and blue for the occasion.