Single-Minded: The Real Meaning of Privilege

Helena Andrews re-examines her privileged private-school education after seeing the documentary Waiting for Superman.

(Continued from Page 1)

Because a true professional never reveals her secrets, lunch money, new backpacks, bus passes, cheerleading uniforms and school trips simply appeared without my knowing how. I knew full well that we weren't anything remotely close to rich (I arrived at class via the MTA, not a Mercedes), but somehow I still got to do everything all the other rich kids did, including being a smart-ass, with the grades to prove it.

Once, when I was a freshman in high school, I lost the $200 my mother gave me to pay off something important. Instead of getting mad, she got me a job, and from then on I realized that my charmed 8:00 a.m.-to-4:00 p.m. life wasn't free. Small class sizes, computer labs, books I still own today, a nurse with Advil at the ready and teachers who were visibly outraged by mediocrity all came at a price. I was privileged, but only because I had a parent, who, like the ones featured in Waiting for Superman, considered it her right to exploit every opportunity.

When my mother turned 50, we threw a party for her at the Compton Baptist church the Andrews family has attended since 1960. I knew I was supposed to make a speech, but I figured that winging it would work just as well as reading off a napkin. With the mic in my hand, tears gathering and a mind swimming with every amazing thing this woman had done for me over the last two decades, my first sentence was clear: "Thank you for being so dedicated to my education."

Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.

The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.