Tag Archives: Class

The Place of the Black Collegiate in the Fight for a Better World

As Princeton students, we are often reminded that due to our privileged positions, we are also the perfect candidates – that’s right: presidential candidates, senatorial candidates, and even big consulting firm candidates. Our leadership potential is assumed upon entry, and perhaps this is why we sacrifice everything from our youth to normal sleeping habits. As someone engaged with the tides of activism in its many forms – from social media activism to grassroots organizing I have come across a large range of people interested in changing the world. A great number of those I run across are college students or graduates.

However, because the average American still cannot afford to attend college without incurring massive student debt, folks who attend four year colleges often get categorized as part of the “elite”. Marxian scholars would even characterize such figures as part of the “petit bourgeoisie”. This is despite the fact that there are many students at schools like Princeton who come from low income backgrounds, receive full financial aid, and work multiple jobs. Unsurprisingly, this is especially true for students of color and more specifically, black students. The dynamics of race and class are more evident from within Princeton, yet from an outsider’s perspective, by enrolling at Princeton one is alienated from the proverbial masses.

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After my first semester at Princeton University, I was excited to return home to Guam for winter break. However, instead of being happy to be back in what most people deem as a “tropical paradise,” I was reminded of something sobering: I am poor. Compared to the comforts provided at Princeton, the living conditions of my family seemed dismal. While some students complain about their dorm beds being too lumpy or the water pressure in the restrooms being too low, I was grateful for these things after having to sleep on the couch and floor for my entire life and to use a bucket to flush the toilets at home.

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Concrete walls, bars over the windows and a lot of black faces. In September, I taught a course with other Princeton students at a male youth correctional facility in New Jersey that fit this description. For a few hours every Friday, I could get over everything that made me uncomfortable – except the black faces, because they knew I was black, too. Continue reading