Environmental Classism/Racism and the Sides of Human Rights

On November 29th, Boston City Council unanimously passed a plastic bag ordinance that aims to reduce our reliance on disposable plastic bags. Stores will charge a 5-cent fee for each paper or sturdy plastic bag that they sell customers who come without a reusable bag. Despite eloquent statements by councilors Ayanna Pressley (at-large) and Tito Jackson (District 7) on the social justice impacts of plastic bags, some complain that the 5-cent fee is classist. Some of us are so destitute that a 5-cent fee is burdensome, but the solution is certainly not to encourage the use of more plastic bags,... Read More

Classism In Spanish Society

I moved from Boston to Madrid 10 months ago. Among the barrage of cultural differences and neoliberal similarities between my home country and my adopted one, I’ve noted several instances of classism in Spanish society. Bearing in mind that I have a severely limited understanding of class structures in this vast and complex nation, I can simply share the instances in which classism has become apparent in my everyday life. I’ve noted and contemplated issues of class and its intersection with race, immigration, cultural signifiers and regional differences. Expats vs. Migrants I would be remiss to espouse any observation-based analysis... Read More

No Retreat in Confusion: Classism in Germany

When I talk about classism in Germany the common reactions range from an unknowing Never heard of it to a disbelieving and doubtful Do you really think classes still exist? to a search-engine-like Did you mean “classicism” to a pejoratively knowing I heard of it, but I think it lacks theory; it is too much about how you feel. As you see in these reactions, there are some basic problems and misconceptions about the use of the term classism in Germany. The biggest issue is that most people don´t know the term at all and have no idea what it could mean. Another difficulty... Read More

Class Background and Life Choices

For years, I defined class in the traditional way: Class is the relative social rank in terms of education, income, wealth, status/position and/or power. But more recently I have added the final phrase “life expectations/choices.” In the last two years I made a conscious decision to be, I hope temporarily, “downwardly mobile.” I have seen how my class background expectations/choices have made the transition to a lower tax bracket and reduced career status easier for me than for a close friend with a less class-advantaged background. Internalized Expectations Growing up lower-middle-class and then middle-class (as my parents’ education, income and wealth... Read More

My Worth vs. My Wages

I recently wrote a blog for Class Action called What Happens When Degrees Aren’t Enough? In it, I talked about the struggle of being a first-generation college student and the uncertainty around transitioning from school to full-time work. Having just completed graduate school a couple months before my blog was posted, I found myself worried for the future. My rent needed to be paid, bills were piling up and humans have this pesky need to feed ourselves. Not having a job was terrifying, and I was beginning to wonder if any of my interviews were ever going to pan out.... Read More

Missing Corner, Missing Choices

I recently participated in the Class Action workshop The Moment for Change: Exploring Class and Classism for Social Action. I learned a lot from the “class” – specifically, that class does matter, and each of us brings our experience into interactions with others. There was one point in the class, however, when I felt a strong disconnect. It was when participants were asked to stand in the labeled corner of the room which best described each person’s early class experience. I grew up in a family glad to be among the employed. Nevertheless, my parents struggled to provide sufficient food for our family... Read More

Four Ways Nonprofits Can Address the Classism Within

Several years ago, I was sitting in a diversity training of a nonprofit I helped manage. We’d spent the morning talking about inequality within the organization around the issues of race, sexual orientation, gender and even political leanings. All of a sudden tears began to roll down one woman’s face. Despite obviously trying to hold back the tears, the woman cried harder. With a look of utter embarrassment, she jumped up and ran to the bathroom. When she came back and a couple of us quietly asked her what was wrong, she said she’d rather not talk about it. At lunch, however,... Read More

Class Diversity Improves Your Nonprofit Board

Nonprofit organizations, which are legal entities that must be approved by state governments, allow people to join together and combine resources to achieve common goals. Most often nonprofits are started by people who are passionate about addressing social problems or responding to needs in their communities. So why do so many nonprofits fail to address the issue of class among staff, members and volunteers – and even fall into the trap of exacerbating classism? Class Diversity Nonprofit organizations sometimes lack representation from some segments of the community they serve. For example, a group working to address an issue affecting people... Read More