Far too often, I’ve heard radical queers and feminists, in their hipster garb, talking their academic jargon about checking one’s privilege and being accountable, and in the same breath mocking poor people. It’s not always explicit. Actually, in social justice circles, it hardly ever is. Many of you know not to say words like ghetto or white trash, or at least I hope you do, because of its classist and racist implications, but that seems to be where the anti-classist work stops. So, let me help you.
- Every time you push your vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian diet on people, remember that your diet is a privilege that doesn’t make you superior or more of an environmentalist, food justice champion, animal lover or good human. I know you know about food deserts. Well, you don’t have to live in one to not be able to afford to have a restrictive diet.
- Furthermore, poor folks went green along ass time ago. I don’t get why you feel so special about your mason jars and bicycles. Oh good for you for taking the bus when you could’ve driven. Do you want a vegan gluten-free cookie?
- Yes, Wal-Mart is evil. So, is Urban Outfitters. Get over yourself. The only reason why Wal-Mart is singled out is because poor people shop there and it is easier to distance yourself from the problem. So, stop judging poor consumers who are just trying to feed and clothe their families, and start working to dismantle capitalism, or at least organize for workers’ rights (preferably in a non savior complex kinda way).
- Your shitty college dorm room, apartment or shared house, does not make you poor, neither does shopping at Good Will.
- There is a difference between being broke and poor, much like the difference between acute and chronic pain. Learn the difference.
- For those of you who do work with poor folks, you are not special, and you are not a savior. Like I said before, drop the savior routine. It makes a big difference when you take the cues from the communities you are serving. And, just because someone isn’t a college educated career activist, doesn’t mean they don’t know what is best for them and their communities. So, don’t be a condescending ass when people don’t talk like you, and practice some real nonjudgmental allyship.
- Pro tip: classy, trashy, hood, ghetto, dangerous/sketchy/seedy (in reference to poor PoC neighborhoods), white trash, etc are all really classist terms and hella racist too. Think about it, why do we specify that the trash is white? Because all other trash must be brown, right? If you don’t have a claim to these words, don’t use them.
Anyway, the examples could go on, and if anyone wants to add onto this, please do. I just don’t understand how a community that prides itself on fighting body-shaming and slut-shaming, could be so unequivocally class-shaming. In your own words, you better check your privilege.
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BROKE AND POOR.
I wish I could make people understand this.
I’m not broke. I’m poor.
When I say “I really don’t have money for that” I’m not saying “Oh, I only have a $10 bill and I don’t want to break it.” I’m saying that I. Don’t. Have. Money. And neither do my parents. Having to fill out a financial aid form and put down that your family made less than $3000 that year makes you feel ashamed to the core, and that is fucked up.
This is so important.
I’ve been poor. I’ve been broke. They are two very different things. Being broke is a phase. You still have nice things, a stable existence, but right now things are tight for you.
Being poor is breaking down crying (and you don’t cry in front of anyone) in your first grade classroom because you got to school too late for the free breakfast and you’re just. that. hungry.