Tag Archives: social class

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

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Whites gain their coherence by knowing what they are not. There is tremendous diversity on the side of whiteness and tremendous conflict between white men and white women, between Jews and gentiles, and between classes, but that conflict, even in its articulation, has a certain solidarity. And I think that solidarity comes from a near or far relation to the black body or bodies. We give the nation its coherence because we’re its underbelly.

–Frank B. Wilderson, Position of the Unthought

(via Gradient Lair)

I have been astonished by hearing individuals who inherited wealth in childhood warn against sharing resources because people needing help should work for money in order to appreciate its value. Inherited wealth and/or substantial material resources are rarely talked about in the mass media because those who receive it do not wish to validate the idea that money received that is not a reward for hard work is beneficial. Their acceptance and use of this money to strengthen their economic self-sufficiency exposes the reality that working hard is rarely the means by which enough of us can gain enough access to material resources to become wealthy. One of the ironies of the culture of greed is that the people who profit the most from earnings they have not worked to attain are the most eager to insist that the poor and working classes can only value material resources attained through hard work. Of course, they are merely establishing a belief system that protects their class interests and lessens their accountability to those who are without privilege.

–bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

Of course, this is one of the profound ways in which oppression works—to mire us in body hatred. Homophobia is all about defining queer bodies as wrong, perverse, immoral. Transphobia, about defining trans bodies as unnatural, monstrous, or the product of delusion. Ableism, about defining disabled bodies as broken and tragic. Class warfare, about defining the bodies of workers as expendable. Racism, about defining the bodies of people of color as primitive, exotic, or worthless. Sexism, about defining female bodies as pliable objects. These messages sink beneath our skin.

–Eli Clare, “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies”

(via CSPH)

When I speak of self-care, most people immediately think of big ticket items like spa retreats or indulgent vacations in Hawaii. The commercialized image of self-care typically doesn’t include us as queer women of color and it definitely does not include those of us who are struggling financially. But the definition of self-care that I use for my own life and with my life coaching clients has nothing to do with high-priced yoga classes or an “Eat, Pray, Love” romp in Indonesia. Instead, I reach to the definition implied by the Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self-care is an act of sacred activism and includes any action that reminds us of our Divinely given self-worth.

As queer women of color, we can’t afford to consider self-care as something we think of when all of our work is done or something we’ll do in the future when we’ve entered a certain tax bracket. Given the spiritual and emotional onslaughts we deal with on a daily basis, at our jobs and on the street, self-care is a spiritual necessity. It’s something we need to make a priority in our daily lives to make sure that we thrive as individuals and as a community.

–Marsha Philitas, Self-Care as Sacred Activism | Elixher

There is no universal class identity, just as there is no universal racial or gender or sexual identity. The idea that race, gender and sexuality are particular whereas class is universal not only presumes that class struggle is some sort of race and gender-neutral terrain but takes for granted that movements focused on race, gender and sexuality necessarily undermine class unity and, by definition, cannot be emancipatory for the whole.

–Robin D. G. Kelly, Identity Politics & Class Struggle

(via KEW)

We got this new thing called classism. It’s racism’s cousin. This is what we do to hold people back. This is what we do. And we got this other thing that’s also been working for a long time when you don’t have to be racist anymore. It’s called self-hate. It works on itself. It’s like real estate of racism.

–Kanye West, Zane Lowe. Pt. 2

(via knowledge equals black power)

I am not a huge fan of Kanye’s music, to the shock and disappointment of some people I care about, but you will never hear me say that that man doesn’t know what’s up. I have been down for his interviews since he called Bush out in ’05. 

However, our dialogue about twerking reflects a larger system of cultural appropriation, commodification, and sometimes exploitation that has resulted in the birth of “ratchet culture.” Ratchet has become the umbrella term for all things associated with the linguistic, stylistic, and cultural practices, witnessed or otherwise, of poor people; specifically poor people of color, and more specifically poor women of color. (Yes, ratchet is a very feminine gendered term. See: Ratchet Girl Anthem). Remember when people who weren’t actually from the ghetto started to use the word “ghetto” to describe everything from their friend’s booty to a broken blender (real life examples)? The same phenomenon is happening with ratchet, even for those who do not use the word itself. It is super easy to borrow from the experiences of others as a way to be “fun,” or stretch boundaries on what is “acceptable,” without any acknowledgement of context or framework.

But being ratchet is only cool when you do it for fun, not if those are valid practices from your lived experiences. We watch shows like Basketball Wives, Real Housewives (of all the cities), and Bad Girls Club where women act ratchet as hell all the time. But they do so in designer clothes and at 5-star restaurants, and this paradox acts as a buffer for the ratchet that is the real reason for the shows’ success. Internet sensations like Sweet Brown are the perfect example of how “ratchet culture” is appropriated and commodified. “Aint nobody got time for that” has made its way to memes all over the internet and is used by folks from different backgrounds as punchlines and witty retorts. Sweet Brown has been contracted to sell everything from real estate to dental services. We witnessed the same trend with Antoine Dodson. It is becoming more and more common for folks to use “ratchet” to sell their not-at-all-ratchet products.

On an (inter)personal level, ratchet works to simultaneously police and defy gender, class, sexuality, and respectability norms. Folks with certain privilege are willing and able to float in and out of ratchet at will. The term ratchet became popular for me when I was still in undergrad about three years ago. All of us young, black scholars (constantly trying to justify the black side of the coin or the scholar side, as if they are polar opposites) were enamored with this term as a way to distinguish when we were or were not on the “right side” of the respectability table. When it was time to party we would say, “Let’s get ratchet!” But when I would go check my mail with my hair still wrapped in a scarf or was overheard talking to my friends from “back home” in our local dialect, I was just ratchet. Another example of the fluidity of ratchet was playing double dutch on the quad. At our predominantly white institution we were presenting a form of community building and fellowship that fell outside the boundaries of “appropriate” and “acceptable.” But our privilege as collegiate scholars allowed us to present ourselves in that way without the same push back we may have received if we were just black girls playing double dutch in a predominantly white community park.

I know that for me and many of my friends, the use of the term ratchet was a constant navigation of our identities as young, sexual, inner city hood Chicago-raised, black girls and privileged, college educated, Western women. I can’t stress enough that pop culture trends like twerking, “aint nobody got time for that,” or even just using the word ratchet to define the wild things that happened at last night’s party are all rooted in someone’s lived experience. Sometimes it’s your lived experience, but if it’s not, please stop for a moment to consider your privilege and what role you may be playing in the appropriation of someone else’s exploitation.

SESALI BOWEN

(via She Who Shall Not Be Linked To)

By slow violence, I mean a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all. Violence is customarily conceived as an event of action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and as erupting into instant sensational visibility. We need, I believe, to engage a different kind of violence, a violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales. In so doing, we also need to engage the representational, narrative, and strategic challenges posed by the relative invisibility of slow violence.

–Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, 2011

(via Square Dancing with Giants)

"Bullying" is a euphemism.

“If we actually started calling bullying what it is and address it as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fat phobia, and classism, it would actually give children a better way to deal with the very same power dynamics they will face as adults, while also giving adults more responsibility to challenge the intolerance that is rooted within our society overall.”

–Amanda Levitt, of Fat Body Politics
(via come correct