Monday, April 30, 2007

About Elites

For Michael Berube.

You're an elite, Cockburn is an elite, Chomsky is definitely an elite, I am an elite. Mitigating circumstances don't change that.

I attended NYU for two semesters, at their liberal arts college.

Let me tell you about how most of the people who I grew up with are doing.

Some have drug habits, do petty crime, and work at the very low end of the service industry, and may not have graduated highschool.

Some went a little further than that and have a little higher paying job in the wonderful world of retail and service.

A few people went to community college.

Some people went on from community college to our local (relatively) low tier university, that's about 30 miles away from where I lived and have now graduated to a little higher place on the hierarchy of lower middle class jobs.

Virtually none of the people I grew up with went to something respected as even a low end school in the state system. The few that did got into Wayne State, which although not a terrible school not exactly the best school either. They mostly have regular jobs now.

Some people also joined the army as a way out. Yes, people I know actually signed up for military service because they had no other options for upward mobility.

The one person who might be an exception to all this is the friend of mine who now makes a steady living as a session musician, and has for years.

Then there's the rich kid who now is some sort of financial consultant in some sort of firm on the outskirts of Detroit.

Point is, compared to each and every single person, without exception that I'm aware of, that I grew up with, my life has been charmed. Knowing about NYU, knowing that it existed, not to mention getting in and actually living in New York City for two semesters, is beyond comprehension. I got into the University of Michigan too, the top state school in Michigan, which in itself is unheard of where I'm from. That I got into an even better school too, which I went to instead of U of M is beyond belief, like hitting the lottery or the jackpot in a slot machine.

There'd be no possible way that I could go back home, get a job and say to people "Hey! Remember me? I'm back. I'm going to live a life just like you." and be accepted. There's just no way. A permanent wall has now gone up between me and the community that I came from, which is both sweet because of the opportunity and bitter because of the loss.

Since NYU I've totally rejected the corporate system and haven't pursued a job or career that would put me on the fast track for financial success, but I'm still an elite because of my experiences and the access that I've had to elite culture.

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