I mean of course upper/middle class white kids from good families are always the ones who rail the hardest against same-sex-marriage-as-assimilation because like, they are incapable of seeing anything but their own experience and viewing marriage as anything but a reason to…
My insomniac behind wakes up at 3:30, logs into Tumblr (because, of course, that’s just what you do when you first wake up), and finds out that from one little post, people have concluded that I’m a Palinesque anti-intellectual.
Holy shit, that’s amazing. Seriously, those of you who took that from my post, thank you. Thank you so much for proving my point. Because if people who have less formal education than you, but more of a sense of how privilege works in the world, were able to understand my goddamn post without footnotes, and y’all couldn’t figure out from my Tumblr that “anti-intellectual” and “Sarah Palin” are a couple of the least accurate epithets you could use for me (and trust, there are plenty out there for queer dark-skinned black feminine people - you don’t even have to be all that creative to come up with a string of them), you are probably exactly the kind of “life of the mind”-having shithead I was talking about in the first place.
That you managed to miss the point even with the original post’s tags attached (including “cross-class fluency” and “codeswitch or go home”) stuns me - the irony of your reading comprehension fail is making me giggle (as is this mug of cheap wine I’m drinking).
But since that’s what I’m being called, I’ll concede. I am a fucking anti-intellectual. Because if being an intellectual means engaging in buzzword-heavy circle jerks with other doctoral candidates, coupled with a striking inability to communicate with the majority of muhfuckas walking the earth, then all that cherished book learning has diminished the intellectual’s capacity to be a human being. Or did folks forget that the language of the academy is, in a lot of cases, used specifically to shut out those who can’t afford formalized higher education? Even a cursory glance at US history, or of the history of other colonized nations, reveals that there have been brilliant informally-educated people with valuable contributions to make since nationhood became a trend, whose contributions were diminished in their time because they were too dark or too female, and higher education at the time was a wealthy white men’s game.
I realize that for those of you who’ve already decided I’m a neocon book-burner in disguise, the above rant isn’t going to change your opinion. Plus I’m not at all willing to wave around degrees to prove my worth and qualification for this discussion (I’ve had people pull that shit in meatspace with me… fuck that noise). Just in case you need a straight cis white dude with Ivy League wallpaper to translate what the fuck I’m saying (and fuck you for that, by the way), I’ll refer you to this essay from American Scholar by William Deresiewicz, “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education.” An excerpt:
It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.
It’s not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable. You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of society’s most cherished rewards. To consider that while some opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.
Point of all my TL;DR - book smart ain’t shit if you can’t talk to people. You want people to respect book learning? Talk to them like you respect their minds, even if they weren’t shaped in a classroom. Otherwise, go sit your ass down somewhere.
reblogging for the bold.
Yes yes yes yes.
Precisely. I am little Miss Know It All & I have mad respect for people who can build things because I can’t draw or cut in a straight line.
I am a relentlessly awkward individual. I went to a “new Ivy” small liberal arts school with a lot of other awkward people. In some ways, this was and is a thing to be celebrated—I definitely learned to hate myself a lot less for my awkwardness. But in other ways, all it did was entrench that awkwardness, which in my own personal experience does become totally magnified when interacting across class or race divides. And I have learned and am continuing to learn as much or more from the progressive blogosphere (including hosted blogs, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.) than I ever learned in college. Education in America (much like the rest of our institutions) is in a sorry state.