1) Does the author present a clear and focused argument or thesis statement in the introduction? Does it respond to the assignment?
2) Is the author’s reasoning persuasive and well developed? Are the claims supported with appropriate evidence? Are counter-arguments fully considered?
3) Is the essay well organized with smooth transitions between focused paragraphs? Does it include sufficient background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic?
4) Does the author choose precise and meaningful wording, with fluent syntax and correct grammar and spelling?
5) Does the author cite sources in a standard academic format (or, if applicable, in the format designated by the instructor) so that readers may easily locate them?
6) Does the essay inspire the reader to think about the topic in a new way?
Through different social scientists and authors such as Beverly Tatum, Stacey Lee, Omi & Winant, and Hamilton & Armstrong we are better able to try and understand race and social class in today’s age through their different perspectives and theories. In our seminar color and money, we further investigated the role race and social class play on a smaller scale, in particular on a college campus, or in this case- Trinity College. We did this through in depth anonymous interviews with randomly selected sophomores, with candid questions about the volunteers perspective on their time at Trinity. In turn we were provided with not only substantial data to support the theories we have studied throughout the year, but new quantitative and qualitative data that allowed us to also create our own theories and interpretations based on the interviews as a whole. Ultimately we gathered that most students noticed both social class and race and how they had strong impacts on Trinity campus, but the way in which the students noticed these two characteristics had a lot to do with their differing races and social classes.
Many would think that students on financial aid were more likely to be aware of their social class and the impact it had at Trinity and on them. However, i surprisingly found that mostly all of the students, regardless of financial aid, had at least some awareness of the role that their and others social class played in everyday life. Out of the 18 interviews conducted, 15 of the students noted that they became more aware of their social class since coming to Trinity and an almost equivalent number noted that their social class had an impact on their life at Trinity. Luisa, who described herself as “upper-middle class” noted “Trinity’s a lot more divided um like with social, so social classes divide like the groups of trinity which is interesting. Yea, I feel like I’ve like I guess I’ve seen where I fit socially or like economically amongst like the world or like the people at trinity.” (Luisa, 8). On the other end of the spectrum, Andres, a student who described himself as “mostly… poor” had similar sentiments in regards to becoming aware of social class as Trinity- “Coming to Trinity obviously [I saw] a big difference between…the social classes…you clearly see people who are in a higher class, clearly see people who are in a lower class, and you sorta just tell the difference of people that there are there.” (Andres, 11). Overall the trend that appeared from most of the students, regardless of their socio economic status, was that they took note of and saw the distinction between the different classes at Trinity.
Similar to class awareness, 11 out of the 17 interviewees also had a high perception of the role race plays at Trinity college. However, a trend i noticed was that those students who identified as non white had more of a perception of how race played a role personally in their lives, while the white students spoke more about how they understood race in relation to how it played a role in the minority students lives. Said Juan, a hispanic student- “I guess in two aspects, one is an oppressive force and another one is kind of like a really empowering one. Though, I think contrary to what some people may believe, some of that oppression has come from a few of the minorities on campus.” (Juan, 6). Here Juan is noting how racism and his race has affected his live in multiple ways, giving him both the feeling of oppression and empowerment. However, Abby, a white student noted, “Uh yeah, like I think my freshman year my seminar was called race and class. Um, so (…) you know the entire class was about like how people would define their race. Um, and how it was very difficult for a lot of people to define their race. So I think I’m definitely more aware of it because of that.” [6:26.03] (Abby, 39). Serafino, a white male talking about his perception of his race at Trinity- “…I think in the same way that coming to Trinity put my social class in perspective, Trinity has also put some of my racial identity in perspective. I wasn’t more aware when I came to Trinity of my ethnicity, but I was aware of [a] different range of ethnicities. Like, where I come from, I live in [a large city], and there are all kinds of people in [that city], but being in a different setting has put my ethnicity in a different perspective, but I’m definitely not more aware of it.” [00:07:29.19]” (Serafino, 34). Both of these students who identify as white noted how they became more aware of their race when coming to Trinity, but less because of how their race affected their lives and instead more being around a wider or different range of racial diversity. To summarize, the white students tended to see their acknowledgment of race from the perspective of them becoming enlightened in a sense, them seeing how it affected those minorities around them; While the actual minority students tended to see their perception of race from their perspective and how it affected their everyday lives and interactions.
Beverly Tatum’s theory of racial development in “Why are All the Black Kids sitting together” is very evident in these analysis interviews. One of the clearest patterns we can find is that at least three students noticed the racial divide that apparently is clear in Mather dining hall, particularly to non white students. Luisa said, ““…Especially like uhm, it’s interesting cause I feel like even in Mather you just see how the division is really apparent, and so like I’ve seen it there and I’m really conscious about it there too” (Luisa p. 9). The other students who noticed the same divide were also non white. Beverly Tatum would see this as these students being in the encounter stage of racial identity development- The Black kids are sitting together in the cafeteria collectively embodying an oppositional stance (moving away from anything associated with whiteness). With regards to social class, the novel “Paying for the Party” by Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton’s theories on social class in college do a good job of embodying what some of the interviewies noticed at Trinity College. Armstrong and Hamilton talk about how college breeds inequality in the classes, giving an inevitable advantage to those of a higher class, and creating an almost seperation and segregation of the different classes, and causing those of the lower classes to become very aware of this. Said Andre, who i previously mentioned describes himself as lower class and is on financial aid, “It’s just like the way we categorize people. You’re sort of just comparing like, you have all of like the racial people who are most likely lower class just because that’s how it plays out. And then you see all these white people–most likely upper class because that’s how Trinity plays out. Like sixty percent of the school pays full tuition out of pocket, so it’s apparent the school is [long pause] not the normal social class as it is outside in the real world. It would probably be more balanced than the school.” (Andres, 12). Conversely, Michael, a non financial aid student who described himself as upper class showed his privilege when he talks about his unawareness- speaking about his social class- “yeah but it doesn’t really affect me. I just don’t really think about it.” (Michael, 2).
Race and social class both play huge roles in young peoples lives today, and after reading many theories on the matter and also personally exploring these topics ourselves through these interviews, we are able to better understand the impact these have on young adults and on the lives of those around us.