How Identities, Aspirations, and Achievements Of Two Females Were Affected By The
Aspects of Family, Class, Gender, and Race


The intent of this paper is to compare and contrast the ways in which
the identities, aspirations, and achievements of two upper class females were
affected by the aspects of family, class, gender, and particularly race. Race
will be particularly scrutinized because the individual interviewed, Alesha (or
Lee), is a female of Italian/Irish-French-German descent, whereas I am an
individual of Mexican/Chinese descent. There are certainly discernible
differences in the growth of an upper-class White female and the growth of a
minority female, and it is my purpose to dissect those differences and explicate
them in sociological terms, while touching upon how the issues of class and
gender also have an effect.
Lee was born into a family that was already very economically
established due to the fact that her parents had her relatively late in life.
She was born into a large family of three brothers and one sister, though all
were the children of her parents previous marriages, and the only one that lived
with her during the entire time that she lived with her parents was her sister,
who was ten years older than her, yet the closest in age. Thus it would seem
that her father had had considerable time to establish himself as the owner of
three supermarkets in New York. Her mother was a domestic engineer.
Lee\'s family greatly values owning material things that are conducive to
comfort. This evident in the mansion in which they inhabit, and the luxuries,
such as the extravagant vacations taken and the numerous cars, and boats, they
own.
I was born into a newly economically established family. I am the
youngest of two children, but was raised for the most part as an only child
because my brother was eight years older and lived with my father during most
of my youth, who left when I was very young. My mother was the sole supporter
of me, economically an emotionally, for most of my life, and the role hat he
played was very limited.
My family values saving money and only spending to impress others. This
is evident in that everything purchased by our family is very ornate and
extravagant, and usually to serve other people\'s viewing purposes.
Lee\'s family background was very influential on the shaping of her
identity. When she showed a serious interest in playing softball, her father
connected with her in this arena of her life, but when she began to show a lack
of interest, her father pressured her to continue. This drove her to keep
playing and thus it became a part of her identity, in that softball became
more than just a game, but part of who she was; it is as if she would not know
what to do if she was not playing, even though she does not necessarily enjoy it
all that much.
Lee\'s identity in terms of how she views other ethnicities was also
influenced by family and also exposure to social forces. Lee\'s mother and father
grew up in primarily white, middle class home environments in New York and
segregated from all other ethnicites. Lee herself lived most of her life in
predominantly all white neighborhoods, which were extremely high class. She
attended primarily all white high schools and had very limited contact with
minorities with the exception of a few Asians She rarely ventured out of her
mostly white environment and thus developed strong stereotypes about other
ethnicities based on familial influence in addition to things that she viewed
in the media, through books, and through entertainment propaganda.
I was also greatly influenced by family in the shaping of my identity.
My mother valued education and my performance in school was very important to
her. For many years, I took on the almost unrealistic, high expectations of my
mother and thus it became part of my identity to always be at the pinnacle of my
school. Later I discovered that not all knowledge comes from learning
institutions, that in order to be a more "educated" person, I should not take
school to the extremity that my mother had pushed me to, but explore other
facets of life as well. So, my mother\'s exertion of pressure on me to well in
academic arenas caused me to eventually deviate from her wishes in order to
explore other areas that would thus become part of my identity.
My perceptions of other ethnicities that are part of my identity are
also largely influenced by family and environment. My