The New Caste Class

As the top 1% grabs most of the new wealth created in the United States, a conversation about inequality has risen to the top of national discourse. This will likely lead to a new focus on class that is always the central issue in capitalist societies. What is remarkable is not that the capitalist class controls so much of U.S. life but that there has been so little discussion of how classism is creating serious hardships for most Americans. There has been little discussion also about its role in producing war, climate change and a shift toward a socioeconomic system... Read More

Seeing the World: The View from Above

Ever since I was a little girl, my parents have taken me traveling all over the world. They have always told me how lucky I was to have been exposed to these different cultures, how open minded it made me, and how it made me unlike “those other kids” who had never traveled outside their state. Growing up in an upper-middle household, I had no reason not to believe them. Even now I have a map on my wall with flags posted on all of the different countries I’ve visited. My parents always reminded me that traveling was a privilege... Read More

Visiting the Relatives: A Worthy Vacation

My nephew Christopher loaded his three kids and his partner Sam’s three kids into their 2004 passenger van and drove the 300 miles out of the city to visit me last week. He took Thursday afternoon and all day Friday without pay, which gave the family three-and-a-half days in total. This was their summer vacation. While on his “vacation,” my nephew repaired my smoke detector and my yard light, replaced my kitchen faucet, installed some blinds for me, and tore out and replaced the rotting wood floor in my storage shed. Of course, they couldn’t all fit in my 2... Read More

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
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