My current social location is defined by several elements. My race is white/Caucasian. My ethnicity is mostly European – most of my family hails from the United Kingdom, mostly Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. I have some ancestors from France as well as Holland. Those aspects of my family’s ethnic heritage have been confirmed through genealogical research. There are family stories of there being Native American in our heritage, but it’s been difficult to prove (or disprove). I grew up in the Bronx, New York State.
My family was mostly Catholic, but I don’t really attend anymore. My family’s class/financial background could best be described as middle class. We’re definitely well and safely above the poverty line, but you couldn’t call us comfortable or wealthy or rich by any means. My family isn’t all that educated; some of my family members have attended vocational schools, community colleges, and sometimes four-year-colleges. Not many of them have earned Master’s degrees or Ph.D.s. I’m not the first of my family to attend college.
In the Bronx, a majority of the people around me were similar in social location to my family, especially in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, and education. There were some differences, of course – some Protestant or Jewish families, or black families – but for the most part the people were similar to my family. I still live in roughly the same general area, so it’s still about the same. BMCC is definitely more diverse than where I grew up. But I appreciate that diversity, because it gives me perspective.
An event that is important that I feel has shaped who I am today is graduating from high school. That seems like such a small thing, but there were times in high school that I just wanted to give up and drop out. But I kept reminding myself: if you want the life you want, you have to finish high school and go to college. I know some of my classmates dropped out of school because they wanted to be adults and get jobs, but those jobs ended up being dead end jobs. I saw girls get pregnant and have to drop out of high school – some of them later got their GEDs, but it wasn’t the same. I realized that what teenagers think of as being adults and what being an actual adult is are very different, and high school really is an opportunity to mature and prepare before hitting the big time of college or the real world.
My social location is connected to this event because though many people around me were similar to me, they didn’t seem to always share my same values – even people from the same religious background. They didn’t seem to see the importance of finishing school and going to college in order to get decent jobs to support the families they seemed so badly to want to have. Several of the people around me could have gone to college – the parents made decent enough money to help them pay for college, or to quality for student loans – but it seemed like the prospect of investing that money was a waste to them. Their parents tried to get them to go to college, to have any better lives than they had growing up, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. I’m not sure how my experience would be different, except maybe if I’d grown up in a much poorer class, where there wasn’t really money for college.
My social location and how it compares to others affects how I experience this school and the class in that it makes me keenly aware and grateful for the diversity of the school and the class. I didn’t grow up in the 1%, of course, but I certainly had opportunities that other groups or areas wouldn’t or don’t have. I’m sure I would be treated differently by others if my social location was different. I think I would definitely have access to certain experiences that I don’t presently, for good or bad. I’d like to think that I don’t take things for granted, that I learned not to do that before now, but I am sure that some of those things that I do probably take for granted would be unavailable to me if I had a different social location – for good or bad.