It’s been far too long since my fingers touched the keyboard for the sole purpose of writing. But alas, here I am, the soft pads of my most curious extremities tapping each white-lettered, black key of my thirteen-inch MacBook pro, doing what they do best: transforming the flurry of ideas that swirl in and out of my brain’s crevices from ephemeral phrases into concrete sentences for consumption by the general public. Of course, my writing process is highly selective. As my thoughts are transcribed into comprehensible sentences, and translated into pixellated print (anyone catch my reference to the Central Dogma?), I have been careful to omit anything which may be deemed ‘inappropriate’. You might be inclined to ask, ‘Where’s the juicy content of the blog post this time around’? I assure you, it’s coming, but as usual some philosophical reflection on the art of writing is required to remind my readers that what you are ingesting isn’t the cold, hard truth. No: it’s merely one rendition of my life.
Topic for discussion: privilege.
This holiday season, I was incredibly fortunate. I traveled to Barcelona and San Sebastian where I reunited with close friends, while making new ones along the way. I made my way home to France where I spent a week in Biarritz with my aunt, uncle, grandparents, and my uncle’s family. I ate in excess– foie gras and fondue were just a few items that graced my palate. It was gustatory heaven. I don’t care what anyone says, French people make and eat the best food. Period. Christmas gifts were exchanged along with good conversation. The entire time, I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘… this is all great, but it’s too much’. The pile of presents under the tree, the amazing experiences I had mustering up my conversational Spanish, and then trading my English for French… these are the elements that comprised my privileged holiday. The way I see it, there are a few ways this post could now proceed.
I could paint a picture of my privileged ‘white-girl’ life:
I was born in Paris, the city of love, to a French mother and an American father. I was thus raised to speak two languages – both of which serve me incredibly well across the world. I grew up in the smartest city in the world, Cambridge, MA (home to Harvard and MIT), and am currently receiving my higher education at Columbia University and the London School of Economics – remarkable institutions in global capital cities. I would like to become a surgeon and will thus attend medical school after my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Voila! My guaranteed success and prosperity. I have always had access to exactly what I needed. Yes, I’ve experienced some traumatic events in my life, but I’m mentally stable because I had a strong support system in my family, school, friends, and overall environment. My privilege guarantees me a festive holiday season with delicious food and presents. But, there is one slight detail I must mention. My baby sister, who I found dead after she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), was born on the 23rd of December – so the holidays for me are a mix of grief and joy. I’m okay now – 12 years have gone by and life has marvelously unfolded. One day of melancholy during the holiday season should easily be cured by privilege…right? Wrong. It’s far more complicated than that. I could go on painting this picture of my resource-filled life, but honestly, it’s nauseating. Remember how I mentioned that my writing is filtered to meet certain purposes? Even when I consciously think it isn’t, my subconscious is at work clearing the debris.
So, the above is one description of who I am, but it’s neither how I see myself, nor how I present myself to the world. What you’ve just read is a one-dimensional analysis that in no way reflects the complexity of my human spirit. I don’t mean to say that the above characterisation is entirely inaccurate, but I do mean to emphasise that it is precisely that – a characterisation. It’s not the whole picture. How is this relevant to LSE students you might ask? Well, if you haven’t heard, LSE students are often immediately judged as being rich and privileged international students with lots of means and a single end in mind. But that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s a general statement lacking analytical support. As part of my New Year’s resolution, I’ve made a pledge to be less judgmental and more analytical.
I’d like to ask you to do the same, not only because I know you’re capable, but because I believe it will make our place and time – the world and 2014 – better.