The Hathaway Brown Bubble
By: Emma Borrow
I have recently read an article in the New York Times, titled “Can Prep Schools Fight the Class War?” by Ginia Bellafante. This article was written in response to a recent book published by Princeton University Press titled, “Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence,” by Rachel Sherman. In a study that Sherman did, she found that people often feared being too showy or displaying their wealth in a public setting where others might not be as fortunate. Sherman says that this “alleged hush” around wealth and money, is actually preventing our country from noticing the inequalities in our society. According to Bellafante, in today’s society, we are in a “moment in which rich wives of cabinet secretaries use social media to tell us that they are wearing Hermés and that they are better.” Yes, this display of wealth by the people in our government does not exactly agree with Sherman’s statement above, but it is this population of people that thinks having this wealth is “ordinary,” when in reality it is not. According to Bellefante, this problem is incubated in private schools across the country. She says, “they are the places in which the affluent receive the most intimate exposure to the obscenely rich.” Having knowledge of this, private schools have recently attempted to recruit minority students and develop curriculums that encourage conversation about racial, political, other topics that might be often avoided because they often cause for disagreement.
Reflecting on this article, I would say that most people can agree that if we avoid difficult, debateable, and uncomfortable topics, our society is not going to improve or develop in the ways that we want. However, I don’t know how realistic it is to assume opinions or perspectives of students in privates schools will change just by switching curriculums to being more focused on understanding different perspectives. A class or group of people can discuss the perspectives of others all day; however, no actual change in the opinions or ability to empathize with others is going to occur if the same people continue to discuss their beliefs with others who possess similar, if not the same, beliefs as they do. Think of it like this: if you have a cup of water, and you put 5 drops of blue food coloring in, and 1 drop of red food coloring in, the coloring will eventually dissolve, and the water color will end up being mostly blue- slightly purple but mostly blue. If you add a drop of blue again- the water is only going to get more blue. However, if you add, lets say 4 drops of red, the color of the water will in theory shift to being less blue and more red. In other words, if we continue to add the same people with the same ideas to our society, a change in the topic of class discussion is not going to change beliefs of people who are participating.
Last year at HB we had a sort of theme for many of our assemblies, “dialogue in democracy.” Interestingly enough, and most likely deliberately done, the 2016 presidential election was in progress. Last year’s election was easily the most significant and dramatic election in my lifetime. I am 100% a liberal, and if I could have voted, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton without a doubt. However, regardless of my ability to vote, our country is, and will have to, live with the outcome that was determined last November. When we had our assemblies focusing on “dialogue in democracy,” I could not help but question why the majority of our speakers or discussions felt biased towards the opinions of liberals. Without taking a vote at this moment, I would say that the majority of our upper school population possesses the opinions that were/are more closely aligned with those of Hillary Clinton; however, I know for a fact that there is a significant portion of the upper school population who voted for Trump or had parents that voted for Trump. In our assemblies, sometimes members of the student body would stand up and voice their opinions. All of the people who voiced their opinions stated liberal arguments. Yes, these were valid and I did support them, but the fact that opinions of those who supported Trump were not voiced, says something. I understand that we are in a community of mostly women. I understand that Trump is a politician who even many registered republicans voted against. So, why did we only discuss the values of liberals? It is not going to change the opinions or create an understanding of Trump supporters if we cannot relate to them or have empathy for their vote. The people who voted for Trump, in my opinion, are not “idiots,” as some of my fellow classmates may refer to them as. Listening to, and understanding their opinion is going to be super important for us as not only an upper school community, but also as a country, in order for us to coexist and move forward in the future.
- Can Prep Schools Fight the Class War Article Link
- Video: Is America Really a Democracy?
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