Cheap Plastic Crap …

 … and the Trouble with Hating It I grew up thinking that the problem was “cheap plastic crap.” Cheap Plastic Crap (CPC) is an expansive category that covers anything from fast food hamburgers to disposable diapers to poorly constructed toasters. If something broke, or gave me a stomachache, or didn’t fulfill expectations, it was a symbol of the erosion of U.S. society. I was taught at an early age to prefer the durable, the sleek, the time-softened leather, the authentic and the heirloom over nearly any product you could find at Walmart. And as a person with class privilege, I expected... Read More

Fugg Off

One wintery day I settled into my seat to enjoy a snack at a Finagle a Bagel not far from my office. The shop happens to be in a wealthy suburban neighborhood just outside of a major city, and there is an interesting mix of patrons there on any given day. On this particular afternoon, a subtle drama unfolded in front of me while I munched on my bagel: Two mothers were sitting at an adjacent table, each with a little girl around the age of 10 or 11 in tow.  The moms chatted mostly with each other, but something... Read More

Who Are the Despicable Racists?

We all know that a young white man murdered nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., just two weeks ago in an act of terrorism. After a wave of murders at the hands of police across the country, it is the most recent acute attack on black lives and has now shed the spotlight on white supremacy in the South, in particular. Who are these people we call white supremacists? A few days ago, on a drive home, I flipped on the radio and heard middle-class white folks discussing these very topics: white supremacy... Read More

All It Does Is Hurt

We are not wealthy people. We live in a trailer. We barely make ends meet. We are happy. We have each other. Most of the things we enjoy are free. Our needs are met, the rest doesn’t matter. It would be nice to live in an actual house again. However it is not required. We buy our clothes from Goodwill or Salvation Army or a handful of other thrift shops. We don’t necessarily do that because we need to. We have multiple reasons. People outgrow clothes faster than clothes fall apart. It makes practical, economic and ecological sense to buy... Read More

Classism: Not Exactly Sporting

Cheering, Chanting, and Clapping – for Classism? My daughter went to public schools in Milton, Mass, which is an economically diverse suburb right outside Boston. While in school, she was on a lot of sports teams, playing basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Her schools and teams have always included kids from a variety of backgrounds, though very few people in our town are actually poor. When she was in middle school, her basketball team once played a team from the local private school (Milton Academy), and her public school team won handily. At the end of the game, the Milton Academy... Read More

A Hard Lesson about Free Money

“Congratulations, you have been awarded a scholarship by your high school foundation. You are invited to attend awards night and be recognized for your achievement,” the letter said. My daughter had applied to several hundred scholarships, four through her highly-ranked, public high school’s parent & legacy foundation. She received one scholarship from a community group at their awards breakfast. It was exciting, and I was so proud of her. I wish she had been awarded several out of the several hundred, but count the blessing, right? Our guess was she might be awarded the need-based scholarship from the school’s foundation.... Read More

The Working-Class Black Roots of Today’s Southern Coops

For many, the word “cooperative” might stir up a specific set of connotations: white professionals pouring over organic produce on their way home from six figure jobs; liberal arts college students sitting around discussing how to buy quinoa and tissue paper collectively; a cooperatively owned bookstore-coffee shop where you can read Marxist theory off the shelves as you eat a plate of cured tempeh. The real history of cooperatives, however, is much more complex. Many economic alternatives considered part of the “new” economy are decades old, and have typically been used to feed, clothe, house and empower working people. As... Read More

The Port Cafe: Dining Without Classism

Imagine opening the door to a high-end, exclusive restaurant. The whoosh of air-conditioned comfort draws you in as the well-trained hostess welcomes you to the bustling space, full of smiling, well-dressed, and well-fed people. The aromas of garlic and spices waft throughout the room, evidence of the much-loved chef supervising the kitchen. Now imagine the doorway to a soup kitchen in the local church basement. A line of sun-leathered faces stretches out the door as the crowd waits for bell to ring, signaling that they are allowed to enter and eat. They can stay as long as they behave themselves... Read More
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