Beyond Trump: The Forgotten White Working Class Communities

Part of the White, Working Class, and Worried about Trump (#WhiteWorkingClassVsTrump) Campaign*: I drove through my hometown last night. It’s a little suburb just outside of Denver, Colo., where the bulk of my family lives. It’s the kind of town that lost all of our union manufacturing jobs in the ’80s and ’90s. Now our biggest employers are Walmart and Hobby Lobby. Each time I go back home, I see another Trump sign pop. There’s hardly a Democratic candidate sign out, even though the election is less than a month away. That isn’t because my community is Trump territory, though. It’s... Read More

Beyond Trump: Creating Class-Race Alliances

Part of the White, Working Class, and Worried about Trump (#WhiteWorkingClassVsTrump) Campaign*: I grew up in economically depressed, though beautiful, northeastern Vermont. My family was on and off welfare throughout my childhood, and we were always poor. As a child, I was acutely aware of the ways poverty set me apart from other people. As I got older. I tried to hide my background and assimilate into the middle-class culture that I found all around me, especially in activist spaces. It wasn’t until I became involved in anti-racist activism – and started learning about the intersections of race and class and collective... Read More

Beyond Trump: Donald Trump Needs Our Racism

Part of the White, Working Class, and Worried about Trump (#WhiteWorkingClassVsTrump) Campaign*: Throughout the 2016 election cycle, the U.S. electorate has subjected to overt and systemic racism from the Republican candidate Donald Trump. We have also borne witness to Trump exploiting white racial fears in order to garner the support of white people, in particular the white working-class. This is nothing new. Using racial division to weaken social movements has been a tactic of the ruling class for as long as there has been oppression. This history can easily be traced back to early slave rebellions, which were often led by both... Read More

Beyond Trump: Building a Coalition for Change

Part of the White, Working Class, and Worried about Trump (#WhiteWorkingClassVsTrump) Campaign*: I grew up in South St. Louis City in a multi-racial, working-class neighborhood. My dad was a union carpenter, and my mom worked part-time at various jobs while maintaining the home. I’m the oldest of seven children. I remember the constant anxiety in our house about money, the shame and frustration I could hear in my parents’ voice as they said the oft repeated phrase “we can’t afford it.” I’m familiar with the embarrassment that comes with being the kid at school in thrift store clothing and the parent... Read More

Risk Telling the Truth

I thought I was going to be a career teacher. But after a decade, I hit bottom. Teaching in inner-city schools, I saw the barriers my students faced and confronted my own limits caused by my vastly different experience growing up. I had some positive, uplifting experiences, but I wasn’t very resilient, and I kept losing my footing. After I stopped teaching, I was able to take a break and not immediately get another job. This was enabled by my family’s wealth – made from a Pennsylvania industrial tube manufacturing company. I took the space to read and talk to... Read More

Being an Owning-Class Activist

All of us are more than a label, right? We each are more than one of our identities standing by itself. We are complex, changing, contradictory beings, and a mystery in many ways. And yet, our identities do matter – at the very same time as those identities are not all of who we are. I am a White Owning-Class Woman from New England and a product of 150 years legacy of wealth on both sides of my family. I grew up in New England, and went to private schools from first grade through college. And I am an Owning-Class... Read More

Wealthy, Come Home

Here’s my invitation to those of you, like me, in the top of America’s income and wealth ladder. Come home.  What I mean by “coming home” is to bring your whole self – your passion, your stake in a place, your wealth and sense of agency – and throw it fully into the movements to reduce inequality and fix the future. I explain this in detail in my new book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good. And for those in the 99 percent, I encourage... Read More

Systematic Failure: A Recipe for Self-Doubt

What does it mean when our education system, “The Great Equalizer,” turns low-income dreamers into third-generation self-doubters? When a high-quality education system is built only to serve and advance the dreams of highly resourced, high-wealth individuals? Prior to my time at UC Berkeley, the formula to a successful college career seemed pretty simple. All you had to do was work hard, study and simply care about the fact that you’re in college. Despite the struggle to raise standardized test scores or generate funds for increased Advanced Placement courses, my South East San Diego high school produced ambitious, hard working, resilient... Read More
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