Classism in the News

From The New York Times:

Poverty Is Not a State of Mind There is a poisonous view among some conservatives that the poor are deficient in character, not cash.

Class, Cost and College

Who Gets to Graduate?"

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Hope to see you soon: Check out our 2016 Workshop Schedule

Workshop participants in discussionExploring Class and Classism

UU Class Conversations provides Unitarian Universalist congregations and organizations with the tools and language to explore class and classism through a distinctly UU lens.

Building upon our faith community’s ongoing diversity work – from race to gender to sexual orientation to gender identity – the project aims to produce more welcoming congregations while strengthening our shared commitment to social justice. Download the Why Talk about Class Flyer 2015-16 for more on our project.

1 Comment

  1. Charles Barrett says:

    Hi, I will attending the workshop at South Bay Campus, First UU in Chula Vista. I am a member of Summit UU in Santee CA. I’m quite excited about this discussion as I am a retired but still active Union/community organizer working on immigrant rights issues. I would like to address the San Diego Janitors Union fight for a fair contract. Summit UU and the ICWJ (Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice) are supporting their struggle and on Maundy Thursday their will be a “Foot Washing” ceremony in downtown San Diego. I look forward to seeing you this Saturday!

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One of the things I find it difficult to talk about without being judgmental is teachers. I grew up with both parents having been teachers (my mom took leave when I was born and never went back, but my father was a teacher for his entire career), and I know the struggle it was to raise three kids on a teacher's salary. We never starved, but there were winters where we couldn't afford to heat the house adequately, and years where not everyone had winter boots and we just hoped the snowfall was reasonable.

I don't believe we pay teachers anywhere near what they're worth. And I understand that whereas I would be making more money ten years after college than I would be right after graduation, a teacher's base salary isn't expected to change much over the years.

But there's an intersection of privilege and teaching that really gets my goat. Shortly after I graduated college, I was in a social organization with a teacher who would never stop moaning about how oppressed he was because as a teacher he was poor. And I was always upset when he did this, because he made more than twice what I did. And he wasn't even including his summer job in that amount.

We both had student loans. Neither of us had children, or plans to have children in the near future. We lived in adjacent towns.

But he lived in a 2BR without roommates. He had a new car, despite living two blocks from the Metro. He had a subscription to HBO. He went out to eat every day instead of learning to cook. He had a pet.

He made a living wage that supported all of this. There just wasn't much left over.

And I was like, you're not living in poverty! You are not and will never be wealthy as a teacher. But you are not living in poverty. You are not surviving week-to-week. You are not "oppressed." You could move to a smaller apartment or get a roommate or make any of the small sacrifices that I as a nonprofit worker made, and start to put away savings.

The choices are difficult, and I know that not everyone can, will, or should make the same ones I did. But it was the experience that really clarified for me the difference between income and class privilege. To me, his salary was comfortable for the neighborhood in which he lived. To him, if he wasn't living the American Dream and having it all, then he was poor and struggling.

My personal classist issues frequently center around this kind of disconnect. I will passionately defend the right of someone on food stamps to splurge on nice food, but I get really upset when someone of privilege takes a job they know doesn't pay well, but won't make any sacrifices to support it.

I don't know how to turn off that angry, judgmental voice.
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