“I had won the ovarian roulette game. I was born able-bodied in 1959 into a white Christian owning-class family in the United States – a family that was riding a wave. I had hit the lottery at birth. Thanks to changes in government policy during the 1980s and 1990s, it would be a lottery that would keep paying out for the already wealthy.”
“While the benefits of growing up with money are obvious, the costs of privilege are harder to name. I find it painful, both to me and to others, how I have absorbed the elitist and warped attitudes of a life surrounded by wealth–attitudes that I still, oftentimes unconsciously, bring to people and situations. I constantly struggle with my internalized class superiority.”
“I learned I wasn’t poor mostly through absences. My parents never told me to get a job… They never told me an experience I wanted–camp, travel– was too expensive. They never asked me to consider my college options in terms of cost. There were no late-night arguments about how to spend money.”
“I, like many others, have felt the pain of living in a society with such extremes of wealth and poverty. I, like many others, have searched for an appropriate response that faces that pain, while appreciating the true value of what I have and who I am, without cringing, with guilt or shame. Now I do what I can with the money, time, attention, and passions that I have. Taking action to create a thriving, sustainable world with whatever resources we have seems like a mandate for us all.”
“I meet with a family to provide family therapy. At the end of the time together, the mother pulls me aside and tells me, “You are the only service provider I like.” I ask her why, and she tells me, “Because you’re not rich, like the others.” At first I feel complimented, then confused… I want to tell her that, in fact, I do have a lot of privilege and wealth. I’m tempted to get up on my soapbox and say, “There are good rich people,” but this is her time, her therapy…”
“I am probably one or two degrees away from being able to reach a group of Americans with a certain type of power… The most important access I ever had: when our daughter was six weeks old and needed an operation, my partner called a family contact, and within hours we had the head of a major American teaching hospital telling us who should operate on her and [calling]. I’m eternally grateful for this and wish it could be so for anyone. But I’d trade all my access to household names, senators, New York Times writers, and doctors in a second if this would make my daughter healthy. But this doesn’t seem to be the deal life offers. Not for me, not for anyone.”
During the time of my illness and homelessness, I felt like "those people" I'd been warned about, as if being mentally ill and homeless were a contagious disease and that those afflicted must have done something wrong to put themselves in that position.
- Jacques Fleury
Dad seldom trusted anyone with a college degree. He took great pleasure in using colorful words to describe political and cultural elites who manipulate the nation. Those words lurk beneath the surface of my middle-class ways.
- Dwight Lang