Assimilation and the First Generation College Student

Going to college as a first generation student of color is more than just getting the money and applying for the right scholarships. It’s also about fitting in, trying to relate to your peers and constantly assimilating to a new culture. Money is only the first hill we must climb before hurtling over various mountains that consist of doubt and class-based shame. This leads me to thinking over and over that maybe college is not made for people like me. Living deep in the South, then moving up to the Pacific Northwest was a big change for me. And when... Read More

Living “Relatively Visible”

I am born to a Tamil, working class, OBC (Other Backward Caste) couple who immigrated to North India to earn their livelihood in the mid-1980s. My father had begun working with an American cultural agency, a full-time job that he would continue to do for the next three decades. My mother, by default, stayed at home, raising her two children, and managing the household with the skills and knowledge that she had learned. My sister and I, for the first two years of schooling, went to a low-budget private school, which had rooms covered with tin sheets and no doors.... Read More

The Poverty Catch-22

The High Costs of Destitution Cause a Vicious Cycle Nothing is more infuriating than the ill-informed critique that “the haves” like to lob at “the have-nots.” Here’s a classic: “If you’re so poor and can’t afford to eat, then why are you overweight?” If you have ever been poor, you know the answer to that question is, of course, that you cannot afford to eat healthy food. You are stuck living on beans, rice and ramen (and you are lucky if you get that). And that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of nutrition – and packs on a... Read More

Class in Crisis

Usually when I sit down to write out my thoughts on a political event, I write because I want to express an idea to resolve an issue. In fact, I would venture to say that most political writing is a reaction to some current event, with an idea of how this event can/will/should be handled. Today that is not why I am writing, though. Today I am writing because I am looking for answers. And I am hoping if I put my questions out there, other people will start looking for answers, as well Recently, I did something that I often try to avoid doing.... Read More

Funding Relationships: What’s Our Part as Donors?

Recently I have been giving a lot of thought to how donors can take more initiative in the fundraising/funding process. I have noticed that in our culture we seem to expect fundraisers to do all the work of initiating conversations and contact. This seems quite one-sided, when I think of the commonly held purpose donors have with their grantees to achieve a particular end. Donors and fundraisers truly are partners and perhaps there are ways we could step up to act that way more effectively. What Do I Mean? Let me suggest nine things that we might consider. Take the... Read More

Class in Capacity Building

I have been fairly obsessed with issues having to do with nonprofit capacity building since 1991 – leadership, governance, sustainability, constituent voice, hierarchical organizations versus flatter ones, and so forth. From the1980s into the 1990s, capacity builders can be blamed in some part for the mantra of “nonprofits need to be more business like.”  The turn of the century saw more and more sophistication of nonprofit management theory and capacity building, and a type of expertise and language-building reminiscent of academia. “We are expert and understand these theories and terms and therefore worthy of our fees.”  Hmmmmm. I, myself, have... Read More

Spring Break?

When I think of spring break, I think of MTV and early 20-somethings soaking up the sun. I believe that this ideal spring break is becoming more and more mythical with the rising costs of education. Classism enables wealthy students to obtain degrees debt free while low-income and working-class students are faced with more and more debt. I would love to spend spring break on a beach somewhere with a margarita, but for me that is not an option. I am a part-time student currently trying to find a way to finance a full-time education. I am responsible for paying my own rent,... Read More

How Class Affects My (Breaks from) Class

As a teenager, I became acquainted with our modern society’s expectation of “spring break” through MTV’s spring break specials. I remember as a teen feeling an acute sense of “fear of missing out“ when seeing slightly older peers dancing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Growing up in rural Ohio, I was nowhere near a body of water other than Lake Erie, which is aptly named. Towards the end of high school, I did end up going to Lake Erie on spring break, which felt like a dampened and dirtier version of the MTV spring break experience. You... Read More