My listener is in his mid-thirties. He first attended high school in New York City, in what sounds like one of the outer boroughs: “Italians, Irish, some Hispanics, Blacks, and Jewish people — working class and lower middle class.” Being a nerdy type, he was bullied. He learned martial arts to fight back, and got some peer respect.
Then his parents got rich and the family moved to an upscale suburb. I’ll let him take over here, with some slight editing.
Moving to the suburbs was a complete culture shock. First, all my peers were now Chinese, Indian, Jewish and white with no Hispanics and blacks. Because of my nerdy demeanor and working class background, I was quickly outcasted. But whereas the abuse in NYC was physical, the abuse I suffered now was passive-aggressive. The bullying was more of gossiping, ignoring, stealing items, etc. There was no way for me to fight back physically and prove myself. The one or two times I did, I was labeled by the teachers as a troublemaker and seen by the students as a dangerous element (in today’s environment, I would be stigmatized as a budding school shooter).
Luckily, I got a better social environment in college and made some lasting friends. But my high school experience puzzled me. I always pondered why the environment was so passive-aggressive.