While thinking about this week’s readings, I realized that our Writing Center takes demographics on race and gender, but not sexuality or socioeconomic status. Why? Are these categories “less relevant” in characterizing the writing process and/or the Pomona academic discourse? Do these questions make students feel uncomfortable? Wouldn’t learning more about the sexuality or socioeconomic status of students who visit the Writing Center allow us to make it a more inclusive and comfortable space?
I will focus on SES more than sexuality because I feel like I am better able to talk about SES. I agree with Bielski that SES is often harder to see. Assumptions—whether positive or negative, correct or incorrect, implicit or explicit–about race or gender are usually made when we first see someone. However, SES is easier to hide. People are surprised when I talk about identifying with the Quest community (which includes low-income and first-generation college students), but not when I talk about my identity as a Korean American. I apparently don’t look or act like I’m Quest, whatever that might mean. I don’t think I’m actively trying to hide my socioeconomic background, but it seems to be less obvious than my Asian and feminine physical features.
I’m also not sure how much my SES directly influences how I write. For example, my Korean American identity changes how I explain concepts; I often use a more roundabout or nondirective approach instead of getting straight to the point. However, I never thought about how my socioeconomic identity changes how I write.
Unlike Bielski, I was very lucky to have what I consider a well-informed high school education. Although my family is working-class, my high school was in an upper-class neighborhood with many resources and students with the goal of pursuing higher education (and families to support them in their endeavors). Also, my teachers were very dedicated to their subjects and effective in the classroom. I was able to learn what the dominant English academic discourse should sound like through my white, male, upper-class, abled, cis-gendered, heterosexual English teacher (although looking back, his classes pushed many of us to reject or exclude different aspects of our identity in order to fit the dominant discourse). Therefore, I never viewed my SES as a significant influence in my ability to read or write.
However, I am a special case. Most students who come from lower SES families do not get the privilege of attending a good high school. And maybe that’s the problem. It’s hard to identify trends within and across SES categories because each individual’s experience and spectrum of identification are different. But, shouldn’t this be true for all aspects of identity? There are so many nuances even within racial or gender identities. Is there a commonality between all students who identify as Asian American that is more apparent than students who identify as upper-class? What you yall think?