Final Paper - Final Paper Soc 389 Section 200 My life...

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Final Paper February 18, 2011 Soc 389 – Section 200 My life contains varying degrees of being “privileged” as well as aspects of being “oppressed.” In his article entitled “Privilege, Oppression, and Difference,” Allan G. Johnson quotes Peggy McIntosh as stating that privilege exists “when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do.” The role of privilege and social class still affect nearly all facets of modern society, including the lives of students at the University of Michigan. Some of the privilege that I possess in my life includes my being a Caucasian member of the upper-middle class. This social class bestows upon me certain amenities that are out of reach to others. I have been fortunate to be able to attend school full-time while not needing to also earn an income, due to the privileged financial and educational status of my family. In addition, I have previously been afforded a costly private education not available to those lacking in “privilege.” Vacation travel and summer camp are not amenities that I have earned; rather, these life events have been experienced due to the social class in to which I have been born. As Johnson explains, “my access to privilege does not determine my outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever my talent, ability, and aspirations I have will result in something good for me.” The social contacts that I have made throughout my life further perpetuate my privileged social class and afford me yet additional opportunities in education and employment.
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Moreover, as a member of upper-middle class society, I have good insurance and the knowledge to access the health care system. I am able to receive proper medical attention for both preventative and urgent health care. Studying at the University of Michigan has led me to realize that not only is the student body racially and ethnically diverse, but also financially diverse. I have learned that many students utilize financial aid packages, student loans, and even work multiple jobs while taking classes. Others, like myself, are able to take advantage of educational opportunities, such as internships and volunteer work. Unfortunately, these activities require additional expenditures on the part of the student, which often limits access to those of privilege and means. Another way in which I am privileged is that I am Caucasian. Even in the 21 st century, race continues to play a role in the way in which people are treated in America. As a Caucasian, the employment opportunities I am afforded are abundant. It also appears that many Caucasian Americans have greater ease in acquiring wealth than their African American counterparts. As stated in the article “Black Wealth/White Wealth, A New Perspective on Racial Inequality” by Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro,
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