3 Questions That Expose Classism

Class RageDo you know what the inside of a welfare office smells like? I do. (Imagine the DMV, but with a lot more kid-created smells). I know what it’s like to live in government housing, and you can’t tell just by looking at me.

Jezebel ran a piece this week about triggers for class rage, and it sent me down a Dorothy Allison rabbit hole that my afternoon could’ve done without (Allison’s work is amazing, but a lady has shit to do, and extracurricular essay reading isn’t on the agenda).

You see, my family experienced a lot of economic uncertainty that isn’t too far in the past and still lingers in my present. My economic situation is changing, but in my head I will always be working-class: one emergency away from the slippery slope into destitution. You can’t see it, but that crummy relationship to money and status is in there. So, to help out all of y’all born and raised in the middle-class, and the rest of us who have to field your questions, here are three loaded questions you should think twice about before asking and why:

1) Where did you grow up?

Do you mean which neighborhood in town, because there are at least twelve in the first six years of my memory? Or did you mean to ask where my parents’ house is? Because they probably don’t have a house, and if they do, it’s in an area of town that you wouldn’t park your Fiat in if I paid you. Thanks for asking though.

2) Where did your parents go to school?

My dad stopped his formal education at the 8th grade, and since I haven’t noticed a weird collection of any particular Jr. High School’s t-shirts lying around, I can’t tell you the name of his “alma mater.” We live in a country where education is treated as a privilege, not a right, and privilege is exactly what is missing in working-class existence. 

3) Did your family ever vacation in _______?

I didn’t see the inside of a plane until I was nineteen, and in my family the words Atlantic and Pacific probably conjure up images of the fish special at the Alanon Club on Tuesday nights. Not everyone’s family goes on vacations, because vacations require expendable income and VACATION DAYS! For people who can’t take a day off when their kid breaks an arm (I should never have jumped off of that jungle gym) a week off of work is unheard of.

Those are just a few of my suggestions. What triggers your class rage?

Comments

  1. Aymee Condie says:

    What did your parents get you for ___________? This is for holidays, special life events, etc. My mom and dad did what they could, but I always knew it wouldn’t be seen as a lot by other people. For example, my wedding gift was a house full of groceries (around $300). That was A LOT for my parents and it was so helpful.

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