Sunday, June 1, 2008

Culture as a factor in Classism

I’ve come to accept that class issues are also about culture influences. And confronting classism means putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We seem to be able to do that more easily for other “culture identities” but less so with class as a culture identity.

Defining Culture

Culture is a tangle of word. I think of culture as the air we breathe or water we swim in that sets our mind-meters to what is normal or the usual ways of doing things or reacting to things, etc. I remember moving to different region of the States and was amazed how “fish out of water” I felt. It wasn’t until then that I appreciated regional influences of my enculturation. I was put off my people’s reaction (or lack) of reaction to me when I walked into a room, to notice men not holding doors open for women…That kind of thing. So I realized that being Black wasn’t the end-all-be-all to my identity or cultural influences. I had been influenced by several unnoticed variables. And it wasn’t until I was removed from my “fish bowl” could notice that the pH had changed and I wasn’t responding well to it. Cultural influences can include:
· Race or ethnic heritage
· Regional or neighborhood affiliations
· Family traditions
· Social group affiliations and traditions (including church, social clubs, union halls, etc.)
· Age or generation – the older vs younger generation run-ins that ALWAYS exists and becoming increasingly more common among Black Civil Rights Organizations
· Gender, reproductive status, and/or marital status (Men vs. Women, Married Women vs. single women, parents vs non-parents)
· Education or work level/title or economic status -- which smacks dead-on class issues. I list these together because they are all involved in the CLASSISM mix.

Whether intentioned or not, people cluster together according to these differences. Clustering and socializing is one thing. But once one segment has some control or influence (or gains privileges then we have a CLASS struggle. These things start happening on the school yard and by high school the lunch room is pit of classism. Identifying it is one thing, an important thing. Confronting it is still a big matter.

1 comment:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

so true when we need to cluster around being human beings