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Friday, May 27, 2005

Consider class.

I have long contended that much of the presumed racial discrimination that exists in this post-1960's time is really class discrimination. In fact, the race-based discrimination in this country was originally based in class; color and ethnicity were/are often just markers for (perceived) class. That should come as no surprise for a society that is so focused on money and financial status. But how does class affect our society? How does class affect our relationships? Our perceptions of ourselves and others? Today's challenge: consider class.

* The New York Times is doing a series of articles on class. They focus on interaction of class with health, marriage, religion, education, and immigration. "This series does not purport to be the last word on class. It offers no nifty formulas for pigeonholing people. Instead, it represents an inquiry into class as Americans encounter it." (Note that free registration may be required to read the articles online.)

* Think honestly, carefully, and critically about what you believe in. Think about what is right. And make sure your words and actions reflect your beliefs. We may demonstrate class or other biases without being conscious of it. And when we are conscious of inappropriate unjust behavior, we often do nothing to stop it.

* Consider how tolerant you are of people that are different from (or the same as!) you. Tolerance.org, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has a number of essays, tools and tests to help you identify biases, fight hate, promote equity, and teach tolerance.

* Insist on economic justice and take steps to end poverty in your community and in our world.

Unfortunately the gap between the financially rich and the financially poor is growing. Capitalism (and that is what our global economy practices) necessitates a lower class, but the gap doesn't have to be this wide.

The wage gap shows what I mean. A study of 292 large US corporations showed that in 1973 the average CEO made 41 times more than the average worker. That gap widened to 145 to one in 1992; 170 to one in 1993; and 187 to one in 1994. By 1999, the average CEO made 419 times the average wage of the average worker. By 2000, CEO compensation was 531 times higher that of the average worker. Why are CEO salaries rising so much faster than worker salaries? How do these differences impact our society? These unnecessarily exaggerated and increasing differences can't help but contribute to the situations discussed in the New York Times articles.

These are complicated problems, compounded by issues of geography, color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical and mental abilities, and other factors. We're not going to rid ourselves of class bias overnight. But each of us can move in that direction by considering economic class.

14 comments:

Karama said...

For more on the wage gap, see faireconomy.org, responsiblewealth.org and inequality.org.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism's Truths is a great blog on Capitalism!

Karama said...

Hello Anon,

The links to Rush Limbaugh and Neal Boortz led me to suspect that I wouldn't share perspecitives with the writers of "Capitalism'a Truths." But everyone is entitled to her opinion, so thanks for sharing.

If you read through "So what can I do" I'm sure you'll find some posts that are of use to you. Try this one, this one, or this one, among others.

Enjoy!

Steve said...

Karama, Tolerance.org offers a great Civil Rights video for use in history classes. the kids loved it this year at my school, and its absolutely free. Just write them at their site for a copy.

Karama said...

Thanks for the tip, Steve! And thanks for visiting.

Fire Angel said...

Your Blog has been Blobmarked for a while now :)
I love what you do!

Karama said...

Glad you like it, Fire Angel! Thanks for reading. Please visit again soon, and spread the word!

Deleted said...

Thanks, Karama, for putting in all this work. For the NY Times articles, some can be given a permanent link, no archive fee, with the link generator (which is free). I don't know how long they intend to leave the current series available. So. . .

Fifteen Years On The Bottom Rung

Shadowy Lines That Still Divide

The College Dropout Boom

No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle

Life at the Top in America Isn't Just Better, It's Longer

When the Joneses Wear Jeans

Karama said...

Wow! Thanks a lot, Harry! Those permalinks will be very helpful. I'll add the ones for the rest of the series as the articles are released.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to "So what can I do." Please come again, and spread the word! Thanks much!

Karama said...

Here's today's NYT article: The Five-Bedroom, Six-Figure Rootless Life

There's at least one more on Sunday. Stay tuned . . .

Karama said...

Today's articles: Old Nantucket Warily Meets the New and Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind.

More to come on Wednesday. . .

Karama said...

I think this is the last of them:

In Fiction, a Long History of Fixation on the Social Gap

Angela Whitiker's Climb

Also note: "Times Books will publish the Class Matters series as a paperback in September. A limited number of newspaper reprints will also be available in three to four weeks for $2.50 per copy. To order the reprint, call 1-800-671-4332."

Avril said...

One of the first things that we can do to shatter some of the perceptions and images of women and young girls is turn off the damn TV, especially when we see young women shaking everything that the good Lord gave them. We can send a message loud and clear to the industry by writing letters to the networks and record labels that promote this exploitation and request it in the first place, and to our children by letting them know that this behavior is impermissible and unsanctioned in our households. We can teach our young men to treat women honorably by setting our own examples.

Karama said...

I agree, Avril! So much so that I did a post called Turn off the TV. And when the TV is on, we need to be thoughtful about what we're watching, to model critical thinking skills to children and those around us.

Thanks for sharing. Please come back again soon, Avril, and spread the word.

PS: Are you coming to the next reunion?