Thursday, September 20, 2007

A PRIMER ON UNLEARNING CLASSISM



Below is a series of excellent articles, tools, and references for those of us who are working to undo the conditioning of class and classim. Those which are not available online will follow the list. The list is color-coded for easier finding:

The Class Layer Cake, an exercise for uncovering hidden class background, by Maggie Jochild

"Class Background Indicators" by Felice Yeskel in "Coming Out About Money: Cost Sharing Across Class Lines", in Out Of The Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, edited by Julia Penelope, The Crossing Press, 1994

"Cheat Sheet on Class Backgrounds (A very oversimplified spectrum)", by Felice Yeskel in "Coming Out About Money: Cost Sharing Across Class Lines", in "Coming Out About Money: Cost Sharing Across Class Lines", in Out Of The Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, edited by Julia Penelope, The Crossing Press, 1994

"A Touchy Subject" by Paul Fussell, author of Class: A Guide Through The American Status System posted online as part material regarding the PBS documentary People Like Us

"Communicating Across Class Barriers", article by Donna Beegle, founder of Communication Across Barriers (this website has extensive resources -- articles, tools, reading lists, and ways to plug into work being done around poverty)

"Test Your Knowledge of Poverty in America" (from Communication Across Barriers)

"People Like Us: Social Class in America", dated circa 2000 (source unknown)

"The Dark Side of Camp" by Gareth Cook, published in the September 1995 Washington Monthly

"Down On The Farm: The Surprising Prejudice Against Country People", by Wendell Berry, in The Progressive, July/August 2002 Issue, reprinted by Utne Reader

"Lefties Need to Love, Love, Love the White Working Class", an article by Sherman Alexie in The Stranger

"How To Improve The Quality of Your Listening" by Nancy Kline, author of Time To Think, prominent theorist on owning class conditioning

"Liberation Theory: A Working Framework" by Ricky Sherover-Marcuse

"Cross Class Alliances", article by Jill Hoyenga for a peer counseling journal especially focused on relationships between middle and working classes

Bibliography of books on class in America from People Like Us

Resources on Class and Classism -- in print, online, video and film -- compiled by Maggie Jochild

THE CLASS LAYER CAKE

The following is an exercise to reveal deeply hidden class differences within a group. It was created by Maggie Jochild (copyright 2004), based on the principles of the Power Shuffle created by Ricky Sherover-Marcuse and New Bridges -- please give full credit to these people when using this exercise.

Have everyone line up in a row across the room, with lots of room before and behind them, not touching. The facilitator stands at the front facing the group. She says the following:

"In this exercise, we will be dealing with some sensitive issues. Before we begin, we ask that everyone agree to the following guidelines:
· Honor confidentiality. Anything shared here stays within this group. You may discuss this experience with others at a later time, but you must omit any identifying characteristic when discussing other participants.
· This is an exercise to help you uncover information about yourself, not about others.
· Unconditionally respect yourself and others.
· Speak for yourself only.
· Everyone has the right to pass.
· It is okay to express your emotions, but not in conversation or "at" another.
· No "rescuing."
· Take responsibility for you own learning - ask for what you need.

"Are these guidelines acceptable to everyone?
"Remember that you can participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. However, we do encourage you to take some risks with this exercise, because that is the best way for all of us to learn and grow.
"I will be giving you a series of instructions during the first portion of this exercise. Please follow the instructions in complete silence, paying attention to who is with you and who is separated from you, noting the feelings that come up while performing this exercise. You will have a chance afterward to talk about what came up for you.
"You do not have to identify yourself as a member of a group that is called out if you do not wish to, but you should notice any feeling that come up about not identifying yourself. If you are not sure about which group you belong to, decide for yourself where it makes sense for you to go.”

THE QUESTIONS:
(1) If:
Neither of your parents or the people who raised you received a college degree – please take one step backward.
You or one (or both) of your parents received a graduate degree – please take one step forward. (take an extra step forward for each extra degree)
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(2) If:
While you were growing up, your family received AFDC, WIC, food stamps, general assistance, or unemployment benefits more than once – please take one step backward.
You and/or your family have been to Asia, Europe or Africa for reasons other than being sent for your job or visiting family who still live there– please take one step forward. (if you have made more than two trips, take an extra step)
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(3) If:
You were raised by a single parent or currently are a single parent – please take one step backward. (take an extra step if you or your parent is/was unmarried or LGBT)
You or your parents have hired people to work in your home– please take one step forward. (not repair or construction work)
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(4) If:
You have lived in a mobile home, on a family-owned farm, on a subsistence farm, or in government-subsidized housing – please take one step backward.
You have lived in a gated community, an apartment building with a doorman or front-desk security, and/or you or your family own a second home in which you lived part of the year– please take one step forward.
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(5) If:
You or the people who raised you work for a hourly wage doing manual labor, skilled or unskilled work, pink collar or clerical work to earn a living – please take one step backward.
At least 30% of your annual income comes from sources other than your direct labor – please take one step forward. (not applicable to college students) -- If you are not sure how much of your income comes from other sources but you are NOT low income, assume it is over 30%.
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(6) If:
During high school and/or college summer vacations, you worked at a wage-earning job – please take one step backward.
During high school and/or college summer vacations, you went to a non-church camp paid for by your family or traveled– please take one step forward.
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(7) If:
You or your family went without a car or car insurance because of lack of money – please take one step backward.
You or your family own(ed) more than one new car (less than two years old) at a time– please take one step forward. (take an extra step forward for each car over two)
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(8) If:
You or anyone in your immediate family is chronically ill, disabled or dead due to lack of medical care because you could not afford it– please take one step backward.
You or anyone in your immediate family has attendant or nursing care or lives in an assisted living situation paid for privately– please take one step forward.
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(9) If:
You or adult member of your immediate family have visibly missing or decayed teeth – please take one step backward.
You or members of your immediate family have had cosmetic caps or teeth polishing -- please take one step forward.
If neither of these are true for you, remain where you are.

(10) Take an extra step backward if you or your parents have ever been: Holocaust survivors; non-English-speaking immigrants; homeless; or incarcerated.

Facilitator has kept track of what steps she would take in which direction, and joins the group where she belongs, then says “Please notice who is with you…Notice who is not. Notice who can has full view of the gaps between us, and who has her back to the gap. Notice how you feel about this. (pause) Now, please come back together again.”

Note: It is IMPERATIVE that people have a chance to break down into pairs or small groups afterward, to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment or interpretation by others, and that confidentiality be preserved afterward, including not talking to others present at the exercise about what happened except with their prior consent.

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CLASS BACKGROUND INDICATORS

by Felice Yeskel in "Coming Out About Money: Cost Sharing Across Class Lines", in Out Of The Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, edited by Julia Penelope, The Crossing Press, 1994

Ancestry
From what part of the world? How long in U.S.?
Grandparents, great-grandparents: Education, work, income, language, neighborhood
Parents (or guardians)
Source of income, kind of work
Education
Status in community
Upward or downward mobility during your life
Assets

Growing Up
Material comfort -- not enough? enough? luxuries?
How many kids in family?
Did your family own or rent? How often did you move? Why?
What kind of neighborhoods did you live in? Rural or urban?
What were the expectations for your education?
How much education did you get? If college/grad school, how was it paid for?
Summer/leisure activities?
Was anyone paid to work in your home?
When did you first work and why?
Who were you taught to look down on? to look up at?

Other factors pushing class up or down
Did any of these affect your family?
Divorced, or unmarried or lesbian/gay parents
Older parents/younger parents
War
Health problems
Alcohol or drug abuse
Political choices, such as Communism or voluntary poverty
Abuse
The Great Depression
The Holocaust
Immigration
Emigration

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CHEAT SHEET ON CLASS BACKGROUNDS (A very oversimplified spectrum)

by Felice Yeskel in "Coming Out About Money: Cost Sharing Across Class Lines", in Out Of The Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, edited by Julia Penelope, The Crossing Press, 1994

Raised poor
Unmet basic needs;
One or more of these: move a lot, disrupted family, chronic unemployment, subsistence farming, public assistance, erratic work, dropping out of school, homelessness

Working class
Parents had no college; rented home (or able to buy only because of skilled trade or union job); worked for an hourly wage; basic needs met

Middle class
Owned home; college; summer camp; "white collar" skilled work; worked for a salary; comfort but not luxury

Upper middle class
Second home; elite colleges; professional jobs; expensive vacations; some luxuries

Owning class
Assets could support family, no one has to work to survive; travel, luxury; exclusive clubs

Ruling class
Positions of great power in business, politics, media

Mixed class
Parents come from very different classes; OR dramatic upward or downward mobility while you were growing up OR high status/low pay (teachers) or low status/high pay

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COMMUNICATING ACROSS CLASS BARRIERS

By Donna Beegle, founder of Communication Across Barriers (this website has extensive resources -- articles, tools, reading lists, and ways to plug into work being done around poverty)

In today's world, we find ourselves continually challenged and confronted with others' differences--differences in perspectives, styles, beliefs, and feelings. To get along with others we must not only understand differences, but value them. In order to learn to value differences, we must recognize the essence of our own cultural membership, values, perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. Communication across class barriers offers techniques for increasing abilities to communicate with others who may have different class backgrounds, experience, and world-views.

PRIVILEGE IS...

Privilege is sleeping at night knowing that your loved ones are not out stealing to survive. It is going to school with clothes and shoes that were bought for you instead of used clothing from a church or social service agency. Privilege is having food in your cupboards and refrigerator. Privilege is paying for your groceries with dollars, checks, or credit cards, rather than food stamps. Privilege is being able to buy toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant and soap. It is being in a position to pay your rent, rather than being evicted. Privilege is asking for help and getting it with respect. Privilege is participating in extracurricular activities like dance, theater, or music lessons. It is being able to pay electric and heat bills, rather then having them shut off. It knows the right words to say, instead of having others look at you as if you are stupid. Privilege knows what subjects are "appropriate" in crowded rooms, instead of sharing your innermost feelings and having others look at you as if you are an alien. Privilege is feeling like you are wanted and you belong, instead of being told and shown that you aren't. It is going to a school and not being afraid of playing on the playground. It is walking home from school and not getting beat up. Privilege is seeing your loved ones treated with respect. Privilege is going to the same school for a whole year. Privilege is having garbage service. Privilege is being able to pay for car insurance. Privilege is having a place to call home. Privilege is having heat in your home. Privilege is having gloves for your hands, instead of socks. Privilege is knowing you have people who can help in times of trouble, instead of knowing everyone you know is struggling with the same kinds of trouble.

Helpful Information about Communicating across Class Barriers
• 50% of what you say belongs to you. The other half belongs to the listener.
• The message you send may not be the message received. What you think you heard, may not be what was meant.
• Communication satisfies needs (physical, ego, social, and practical).
• Communication is complex (both the sender are interpreting the verbal and nonverbal messages based on their backgrounds, power positions, and current feelings).
• Communication can be intentional or unintentional.
• Communication develops our self-concept through our interactions with others.
• What we think of ourselves depends on what we think others think of us. Perception (what we pay attention to and our interpretation of it) affects communication.
• Any situation can be defined in any number of ways depending upon your perception of that situation (someone else may interpret the situation entirely differently).
• Empathy helps to reduce misunderstandings. Perception checking helps to improve communication (like asking do you mean what I think you mean?

Oral and Print Culture
How we get our information shapes how we relate to one another and how we experience the world. Many people from lower-class backgrounds get their information verbally...creating an "oral" culture thought process. Any people from middle-upper class backgrounds gain their information from reading creating a "print" culture thought process. Understanding these different thought processes can improve communication across class barriers.

Oral culture (orality) is a natural state in which we are highly attuned to our senses (touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste) and devote a great deal of attention to sensory information. Orality emphasizes our interconnection with the environment and the people in it. Some characteristics of orally are spontaneity, connectedness, present orientation, comfort with emotions, able to see "the big picture," and holistic. Print Culture (literacy) is a learned way of relating to the world where people learn to process and analyze (breaking things down according to parts) information collected through sight, sound, hearing touch, and smell according to categories, classifications, and styles of reasoning developed by reading.

Some characteristics of print culture are: self-discipline (ability to not pay attention to everything that is going on around you, but rather to focus on a single idea), separation and disconnection, ability to delay gratification, ability to strategize and plan aheadability to set goals, ability to develop technology, ability to break things down into parts, and ability to organize efforts according to predetermined goals.

The nature of culture: Culture is a set of customs, beliefs, values and a style of perception common among a group of people and learned through verbal and nonverbal communication. The way that we bathe, eat, dress, talk, and laugh are all part of learned culture. The way we believe others should behave is based on expectations from our own learned cultural norms. We learn through communication from those around us how to "be" and what to "expect." "How children experience meaning and choices interpret the nature of relationships, and make moral judgments reflect the deep and generally unconscious influence of culture" (Bowers, 1995).

These layers are taken for granted beliefs; reflect thought processes of earlier people. Each culture and subculture has a membership, shared among its members. It is based on a description of the world passed on through everything that is said or done around kids. A membership is a set of expectations. Once membership is mastered, it both directs and limits our experiences. Each culture's members experience life according to the worldview that is their membership. The language of a culture is an important part of its membership. Each language is unique in the way it directs attention to some elements of life and away from others.

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PEOPLE LIKE US: SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA

Dated circa 2000 (source unknown)

U.S. median household income: $ 40,816 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999)

Average household net worth of the top 1% of wage earners: $10,204,000
Average net worth of the bottom 40% of wage earners: $1900
(Edward N. Wolff, "Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership, 1983-1998," April 2000)

Definition of middle class in terms of income: $ 32,653 to $ 48,979 (Economy.Com’s The Dismal Scientist, 1999)

Percentage of U.S. children who live in poverty: 20 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)

Percentage of U.S. adults who live in poverty: 12 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)

Percentage of single mothers who live in poverty: 37.4% (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999)

Rank of the U.S. among the seventeen leading industrial nations with the largest percentage of their populations in poverty: 1 (United Nations Human Development Report 1998, N.Y.C.)

Portion of U.S. stock owned by the wealthiest 10 % of Americans: 9/10 (Economic Policy Institute, Washington D.C., 1999)

Median hourly wage of a former welfare recipient: $6.61 (Urban Institute, 2000)

Percentage of former welfare recipients who have no access to a car: 90% (Surface Transportation Policy Project, 2001)

Bill Gates hourly wage: $650,000/hr (Bill Gates Net Worth Page, average since 1986)

In October 1996, 48.6% of 16-24 year old high school completers in lower income families were enrolled in college, compared with 62.7% from middle income families and 78% from higher income families. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey)

Mean verbal SAT score for children in households with incomes below $10,000: 427
Mean verbal SAT score for children in households with incomes above $100,000: 559
Mean math SAT score for children in households with incomes below $10,000: 446
Mean math SAT score for children in households with incomes above $100,000: 572.
(SAT Program information, 1998)

Median household income for those less than a 9th grade education: $17,261
Median household income for those with a 9th - 12th grade education (no diploma): $ 21,737
Median household income for high school graduates: $ 35,744
Median household income for college graduates, B.A.: $ 64,406
Median household income for college graduates, M.A.: $ 74,476
Median household income for professional degree holders: $ 100,000
(U.S. Census Bureau, 1999)

Median net worth of a White American: $81,700
Median net worth of an African-American: $10,000
(Edward N. Wolff, "Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership, 1983-1998," April 2000)

Number of White people living in poverty: 21,922,000
Number of Black people living in poverty: 8,360,000
(U.S. Census Bureau, 1999)

Percentage of men earning poverty level hourly wage: 19.5%
Percentage of women earning poverty level hourly wage: 31.1%
(Economic Policy Institute, 2000)

Males:
White collar: 47% (of workforce), avg hourly wage = $22.20
Service: 10.4%, avg hourly wage = $10.92
Blue collar: 40.1%, avg hourly wage = $13.71

Females:
White collar: 73.4%, avg hourly wage = $14.90
Service: 15.2%, avg hourly wage = $8.17
Blue collar: 9.6%, avg hourly wage = $9.94
(The State of Working America 2000-2001, Economic Policy Institute, statistics are for 2000)

Median Income by type of household:
Family households (all): $49,940
Married couple families: $56,827
Female householder, no husband present: $26,164
Male householder, no wife present: $41,838 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999)

36% of those earning $15,000 a year call themselves middle class.
49 % of those with incomes between $35,000 and $49,999 call themselves middle class
71% of those with incomes above $75,000 call themselves middle class
(National Center for Opinion Research, 2000)

Percentage of 5000 American adults polled who cited "lack of effort” as a reason people are poor: 43%
Percentage who cited "strong effort" as a reason some people are rich: 53% (Gallup Poll Social Audit, 1998)

Number of American households that spend more than 50% of income on housing: 14 million (Habitat for Humanity, 1999)

Number of families or primary individuals who live in mobile homes or trailers: 6.8 million (U.S. Census Bureau, American Housing Survey, 1999)

Percentage change in the number of rural Americans living in mobile homes between 1980 and 1990: + 52 (Housing Assistance Council, Washington D.C.)

Number of U.S. households earning less than $10,000/year: 7.6 million
Number of affordable housing units available: 4.4 million (Low Income Housing Information Service, 1995)

Number of gated communities in America: approx. 20,000 (housing approximately 8.4 million people) (Fortress America: Gated Communities in America, Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder, Brookings Institution Press, 1997)

Number of gated communities in 1950: 2,500 (Fortress America, 1997)

Interesting fact: In 1995, homeowners earning more than $100,000 a year received a total of $28.9 billion dollars in federal income tax deductions on mortgage interest payments. The entire 1996 budget of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was only $19 billion. ("The New Politics of Housing," Peter Dreier, Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 63, No. 1, Winter 1997)

Percentage of death row inmates who could not afford to hire a lawyer: 90% (ACLU, 2001)

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HOW TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF YOUR LISTENING

By Nancy Kline, prominent theorist on owning class conditioning, article extracted from her Time to Think - Listening to Ignite the Human Mind published by Ward Lock

Listening is probably a vital part of your volunteering role - but are you really listening? Here Nancy Kline, a keynote speaker at this year’s National Volunteering Convention, explains how to improve the quality of your listening to create a ‘Thinking Environment’. This method not only helps you to help people think for themselves but can also transform the way you think, work and live.

The quality of our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other - if we listen to other people respectfully, then they begin to think for themselves, clearly and afresh. Create the right conditions, and people will think for themselves. It sounds simple, but it happens so rarely. Yet creating a Thinking Environment is not difficult to do. We can do it anywhere at any time: in the office, waiting for a bus, walking the dog, on the phone, between the sheets and across even the most mahogany of boardroom tables.

Attention
Attention, the act of listening with palatable respect and fascination, is the key to a Thinking Environment. When you are listening to someone, much of the quality of what you are hearing is your effect on them. Giving good attention to people makes them more intelligent. Poor attention makes them stumble over their words and seem stupid.

Your attention, your listening, is that important.

We think we listen, but we don’t. We finish each other’s sentences, we interrupt each other, we moan together, we fill in the pauses with our own stories, we look at our watches, we sigh, frown, tap our finger, or walk away. We give advice, give advice, give advice. Listening to each other requires discipline and the most profound attention for each other.

We are taught that the best help we can be to people is to tell them what to think. But this is not true. It is popular. It is immediate. But it is wrong.

Real help is different. Real help, professionally or personally, consists of listening to people, or paying respectful attention to people so that they can access their own ideas first. Usually the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution - often the best one. When you keep that in mind, you become more effective with people. And people around you end up with better ideas.

To help people think for themselves, first listen. And listen. Then - listen. And just when they say they can’t think of anything else, you can ask them the question, ‘What else do you think about this? What else comes to mind that you want to say?’ Even when people are sure there is nothing left in their weary brain, there nearly always is.

Surprisingly the simple question, ‘What else do you think about this?’ can usually lead them straight to more, often good, ideas. In the presence of the question, the mind thinks again.

The next time someone asks for your help with a problem, remember that the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution. Then set up the conditions for them to find it.

Interruption
What is it about interruption that is so tantalising? We seem unable to resist doing it. Why is it so difficult just to breathe out and let the person finish their own sentence for themselves?

When you finish someone’s sentence for them you are assuming:
that they cannot finish it themselves before the world ends
that your words will be their words or better
that it won’t hurt them if you do, and waiting another giga-second for them to finish will damage you.

Silly, isn’t it? None of these bears out. In fact, most of the time we are wrong about what the person is going to say. Usually they come up with a completely different word or phrase. Often they find in their own mind a much more rich expression. They nearly always come up with a word or phrase that is more precise, more colourful, more theirs.

So sit back and let them search. The search and the saying add to the quality of their thinking, to their process of understanding, of sorting things out, of gaining insight.

The point is not the word. The point is their internal experience. Only they can do that. Like almost everything in a Thinking Environment, you cannot do it for them. And ‘staying out of their way’ nearly always takes less time and produces more.

To be interrupted is not good. To get lucky and not be interrupted is better. But to know you are not going to be interrupted -- that is categorically different. That is bliss. To know you are not going to be interrupted allows your mind to dive, to skate to the edge and leap, to look under rocks, twirl, sit, calculate, stir, toss the familiar and watch new ideas billow down. The fact that the person can relax in the knowledge that you are not going to take over, talk, interrupt, maneuver or manipulate is one of the key reasons they can think so well around you.

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CROSS CLASS ALLIANCES

By Jill Hoyenga

This article was written in preparation for a "How to be Better Allies for Present Time Working Class Co-Counselors" workshop given by Jill Hoyenga on November 6,1994. After defining classism as used in the workshop this article goes on to focus on Working Class patterns, what the Middle Class can learn from us, what the Middle Class is especially suited to help us with in our sessions, and what gets in the way of the Middle Class and Working Class being allies. Most of the thinking in this article is about relations between Middle and Working Classes. Some information may be helpful to Owning Class co-counselors as well.

Internalized classism is a set of assumptions held by a group which they believe is vital to their survival. Classism is a challenging chunk of material to go after because the underlying fear is once we know what's going on and discharge the distress we won't be able to handle our jobs or our position is the societal structure. Our very survival will be threatened. Let's leave well enough alone and work on something else farther away from the core. That's how it feels.

The fear is intensified by knowing our class system is irrational and oppressive. The wish to free ourselves from oppression might make us throw off our roles and go into...the great unknown! What would it look like? We can't really visualize what it would look like until we clear the distress, and that takes discharge. So we are back to square one.

My findings after seven years of discharge and thinking about classism are, we have been conditioned in certain ways according to our classes. Discharging the distress around that conditioning does not remove the conditioning itself. We will most likely remain most comfortable in the roles we are in. The big gains from working on this material is you will be better able to think about the roles you are in, bringing your full creativity, intelligence and zest to your tasks. You will operate from choice not from patterns forcing you into slots. The ironic thing is you may choose the same slots! The difference is how it feels on the inside. Choosing your path rather than being forced into it feels much better.

Another big gain is the opportunity to shed guilt and resentment about other classes. You can be told that RC theory says that classism hurts everybody. But knowing and understanding how deep those hurts can be brings a new empathy, allowing you to think well about people in other classes better, and just as important, frees you to fully appreciate your own class. The funny thing is that when I looked at the hurts other classes have to endure I found I truly didn't want to be any other class but my own. I have spent a lifetime learning to cope with the hurts of my class. The hurts of other classes seem unbearable to me.

I have been working on class distress for almost seven years. I was Raised Poor and our first Raised Poor support group met for two years starting about seven years ago. The Raised Poor are the part of the Working Class which takes on the role of reserve personnel for the capitalist system. Our role demands that we sit back and analyze roles and class so we can fit into the system wherever there may be a job opening. That's why it wasn't too risky for us to form a support group and look at this issue.

Other classes have a very large investment in denying classism in our society; this makes it more difficult to approach this work but no less important. The Working Class don't want to fall into the Poor category and tend to think about classism with themselves at the bottom, but have a lot of distress about thinking abstractions at all so rarely think about it consciously. The Middle Class have the role of the go between and have the greatest tendency to minimize classism as a way to minimize their own feelings of isolation and guilt. Ironically the Middle Class is often forced to think about classism every day in their go-between role. The Owning Class are scared of everybody, intensifying their isolation and guilt to the point where it is very hard for them to think about classism at all.

These are all gross generalizations. There may be people in all of these classes that have good thinking about classism, but this is rare. Individual cases are of course much more complicated as very few of us have only one class in our background. This is the confusing nature of classism in the U.S. This is why classism is often reduced to tallying money. The IRS divides classes by income. This gives us a false impression of class. The senior accountant and the plumber pull down about the same income. The distresses of these two individuals are vastly different, and at the core of their distresses is classism.

For the purposes of this workshop classism is defined according to the work one does. The "blue" collar and to some degree "pink" collar jobs are Working Class. These jobs are typically repetitive (though not always) and are perceived as using little brainpower. The pink collar jobs are often boring data entry and are becoming more prone to repetitive motion injuries since the advent of the computer, making it more Working Class than ever. Working Class jobs typically have tangible results. At the end of the working day they have something to look at to say "I did that today." Most "white" collar jobs and all managerial jobs are Middle Class. White collar jobs often have occasional tangible results. There is a lot of thinking and meetings and every so often a document. It's sometimes hard to quantify what one did all day.

A short note on a difference between the Working Class and the Raised Poor. To me the most important difference between these two classes is that the Working Class family is anchored by a worker who held down a company job for twenty or thirty years and then retired. The Raised Poor family experiences periods of money and periods of no money. Because of the stability inherent uninterrupted employment the Working Class tends to have a much clearer understanding of how essential they are in the world. Many Working Class people have an elegant unconscious air of indispensability.

The Working Class children often learn some of their parents' trades while young, preparing them for the work force. This can be a problem when the parents' trade becomes obsolete, as in the case of the logging industry. In this case, these highly trained individuals are set adrift in the work force with a false sense of their lack of intelligence. This makes them difficult candidate for continuing education. In this respect the self-esteem is often hitched to their sense of their job. There is often not very much backing them up in the self-esteem department if the job falls through.

Because of the instability of intermittent employment, the Raised Poor often have very low self-esteem. High self-esteem in the Raised Poor person is often cultivated in areas that can't be taken away, such as education. Things, jobs, people, places and circumstances around the Raised Poor child are everchanging, making these people some of the must adaptable people in the class constellation. One interesting development in the present time economy is that there is much less job stability, making more children Raised Poor than Working Class.

The focus of this talk is going to be on Working Class patterns, what the Middle Class can learn from us, what the Middle Class is especially suited to help us with in our sessions, and what gets in the way of the Middle Class and Working Class being allies.

The typical Working Class patterns are a result of our role is society. We are the workers, builders, and doers of our society. Everything around us, all the time, every day, is the fruit of the labor of the Working Class. The shelter we are in, the heating system, the carpet, the couches we sit on, the glass we sip from, the food we buy... Everything you can touch anywhere around you is the fruit of the Working Class, including the dirt under your feet that was bulldozed away to level the land for the house, then topped off with soil so things would grow there again.

Working Class people are very creative. Creating is the first role of our class. This creativity is our great joy, and during off hours we often enjoy tactile hobbies such as jewelry making, furniture making, fly tying, sewing, ceramics, etc. We have a lot of pride in our class. We can see that life as we know it could not be sustained without the Working Class. Working Class people are very result oriented. If you can't touch it it's probably not worth doing. If you can't see it when you're done, what's the point?

The conditioning around this attitude is very painful. I call it "dumbing down". Working Class parents prepare their children for their role of workers rather than thinkers by literally telling them they are stupid all the time. The pattern of keeping alive this image of the brainless grunt worker is persistent, especially when addressing Middle Class people. The reality is the work we do is very technical, many trades require four year apprenticeships which correspond accurately to four years degrees with paid on the job training. Even when the job does not require a high level of training, the worker has to remain thinking to stay uninjured and alive. If you run a backhoe without some training, practice, and thinking, you can kill somebody.

"Dumbing down" is not subtle. I have watched Working Class parent their kids they are dumb and stupid as many as five times in one ten minute conversation. Phrases like, "Of course someone as stupid as you would do that, you big dummy. If everyone in the world was as dumb as you, we'd all be in a world of hurt. Why do we even keep an idiot like you around." It is an endless oppression in the Working Class child's growing years. By the time a child is five they know they are supposed to act dumb in public. Just do it, don't think about it. This is one reason why your Working Class Co-counselor is so very special. He or she is on a path of doing that can't be seen or touched and requires a lot of thinking. He or she may need to be reminded to remember why counseling is important because it is such a contradiction to class conditioning.

However, the most important thing you can do is RESPECT YOUR WORKING CLASS CO-COUNSELOR'S THINKING! ! ! This is the number one most important direction for you to hold for your Working Class Co-counselor. If you feel you want to remind her that her counseling efforts are worthwhile ASK HER TO TELL YOU, DO NOT TELL HER WHAT TO THINK!

If you were raised Middle Class this may be the single most difficult thing to do, because you have be given the role of thinker by our society and you may spend your working life telling people what to do and think. It is amazing how persistent these patterns can be. Your Working Class Client needs to hear in every session, "You are thinking well about this." "You are figuring this out!" "Your thinking really stuns me, great work!" As a Working Class client you have the right to demand this at every session. As a Working Class client he or she may insist they can't figure it out, especially with a Middle Class counselor. RESIST THE URGE TO ADVISE!

Working Class people have so much available creativity that their thinking really is stunning. We have so little permission to think when we are with Middle Class people that it contradicts a ton of distress to have a Middle Class person genuinely applaud our thinking. You may want to ask your Working Class Co-counselor to persist in telling you not to tell her what to think, even do a few sessions on this if you feel safe with it. It will push both of your patterns hard.

Working Class people are very team oriented. In the work place the Working Class are often part of a process in production of some kind. The idea that I do my part well then can pass the job to the next capable hands is a useful pattern, making the Working Class able to ask for help easily with very little distress in the way. This is a sterling quality that can be modeled by all classes for the benefit of everyone. This quality is what differentiates the Working Class from the Raised Poor. The Raised Poor have so many laid in patterns of rejection and humiliation when asking for help that they don't tend to seek allies as well, though they have retained the ability to readily be an ally. The Working Class more readily acknowledges that each of us have an area of expertise. Workers are used to being one part of a bigger project and admitting that they can't do it all has no stigma. Workers also offer help freely, knowing that we can trade expert help, making the work easier for everyone.

Most Middle Class people have no concept of the kind of network that Working Class people consider to be just the way life is. Typically Working Class people need each other infinitely more than they need their job. This lack of understanding frustrates Middle Class manager trying to enlist allies from the work force (the manager often tries to enlist help in oppressing the workers from the workers themselves). Middle Class people make enough money to pay to get things done. Working Class people do favors for each other because they can't afford to pay others to do it. Middle Class person sees no benefit from having that hired hand in their life, that worker is paid and sent away. To the Working class person, those workers are her buddies that would do anything for her, and she would do anything for them.

Working Class people readily admit mistakes and this is something other classes can learn from their modeling. This talent come partly from knowing if I can't do it, I know someone who can. However it also comes from a constant discounting of their own intelligence. The area to work on is readily admitting mistakes knowing that brilliant people make mistakes. Working Class people are very playful. They haven't had to develop an air of superiority or separation from which to wield authority and love to joke and play. This playfulness is often labeled as childishness. This label is used to perceive the Working Class as unfit for leadership and responsibility. If you look closely at Working Class playfulness it is often naturalized counseling. If one of us has an area of distress our fellow workers "razz" that person, allowing a lot of laughter to bubble off the distress. Working Class people have a talent for identifying areas of distress and zinging each other into dealing with it in a playful way.

The other side of the coin is that of course the distresses most easily identified in others are the distresses one has oneself. If the "razzing" is not done with the best of intentions, it can add a layer of distress. As every parent knows, our children are also especially talented at identifying areas of distress and coaxing us into dealing with it one way or another. Middle Class people often label naturalized counseling as childish because kids are the other major group talented in this area. Perhaps this talent of the Working Class allowed Harvey to introduce formal RC to the Middle Class.

The Middle Class has helped develop a lot of clear thinking about counseling. We would go far in liberating all peoples by taking this thinking back into the naturalized setting of the Working Class WITHOUT BELITTLING THEIR INTELLIGENCE! The Working Class people are brilliant counselors when their thinking is freed up, because the process is as natural as breathing air for many of us. This naturalized counseling accounts for the closeness that is the hallmark of the Working Class. Closeness is also a result of literally depending on each other for our lives. In dangerous work situations we need to trust each other implicitly. Freeing up the thinking of the Working Class to bring their brilliance to the naturalized counseling they do every day would be a mind-boggling feat. I don't even know what this would look like, but I think it would be great!

The area of the most quality counseling from Middle Class people is in the area of physical hurts. The Working Class is often asked to work in physically demanding and dangerous work. We endure conditioning from infancy to pay no attention to physical hurts. Again the conditioning is not subtle. Even today in the age of child abuse awareness the discipline of choice for Working Class children is spanking of one degree or another. Time-outs make no sense for reasons I will discuss later. I would be willing to say every worker in my blue collar work place has been hit as a child.

For most children severe beatings are occasional, but everyone I talked to had one beating story to relate. This was stated to be the exception rather than the rule. The hitting and rough physical play common to the Working Class contributes to an unawareness of physical hurts as adults. This is very practical in the work place. If a team of workers are carrying a heavy load and one worker smashes a finger, dropping the heavy load to pay attention to the hurt finger could injure everyone on the crew. However, taking a minute after the load is safely delivered is the rational thing to do. Often this step is not taken because the worker will "not even feel it" after a minute or less, even if there is blood drawn or bruises raised. If other people notice injuries, the tendency is to discount them and reject help, even paper towels for clean up or a band-aid.

A part of the problem is the worker's greatest fear is injury, especially debilitating injury. Ironically, this unawareness can contribute to accident-prone behavior when taken to extremes because the worker will "not even notice " that he or she is in danger of injury. I work in a crew of four. I have hearing damage to the point of needing a hearing aid (about 70% of the workers in my building have around 30% hearing loss from being around equipment). My partner has one eye, has five screws in his ankle from when the field mower rolled on him, and has had three broken wrists (one obviously broke twice). The two other members of my crew have back and neck injuries to the point that one needs to find a sit down job, but is marginally literate and finds the thought of a sit down job terrifying. The other needs to look for a sit down job in about three years if he's lucky.

The fear of injury is faced every day, every hour we are working. This fear is in the way of our looking rationally at physical hurts. Loving persistence is the order of the day when counseling these hurts. Your client will throw you off vigorously, but lovingly persist in focusing attention on the hurt.

"I notice that your son is hitting you a lot," my Middle Class friend told me. I hadn't even noticed. Even when she brought it to my attention it was difficult for me to notice. It took me months of counseling to notice when no one was there to remind me to notice. Another of my Middle Class friends comes and pushes near the minor injury to remind me that it hurts there saying "Ouch." until I remember to say ouch too.

I've talked about this with other present time working class people and the phrase I liked to lightly bring attention to this issue in the naturalized setting is "Save some skin." There is an unawareness of the daily blood letting and skin leavings we sacrifice in our work. Bringing this up lightly allows the client to bubble off the occlusion around the subject while putting off working on the fear of disability. When the client has developed good attention for this material he or she will be ready to look at the fear. There is no need to rush the process. The Working Class client can become very sunk around physical hurts if good attention is not available.

Working Class people tend to live in smaller houses, often in larger families than Middle and Owning Class people. Working Class people have to learn to work it out together one way or another because you can't escape in a room you share with your siblings. Everyone is all around you all the time. Discipline is handled on the spot in full view of everyone.

The time out theory of discipline is an obvious Middle Class piece of parenting advice. The very idea of finding a place in the house to have a time out can be laughable in many Working Class homes. It goes against Working Class patterns to draw out the discipline process by time-outs or being sent to one's room. Just discipline and go on from there. There is no need (often no way) to banish the offender. Isolation is a foreign concept.

In fact is so foreign that I had no idea what this could be like until I had a Middle Class housemate with children...and enough counseling on classism to actually think about what I was witnessing. The process of domination, alienation and isolation happening to the children was overwhelming to me. Because I am a believer that if there is a consequence to an action that it applies to everyone, I ended up having to be sent to my room. The Middle Class parent insisted that I didn't have to go to my room because I was an adult. But I went anyway. It was the first time I had ever been sent to my room in my life (at the age of 28). It was possibly the most crushing, isolating experience of my life. I heard everyone going on without me and gained a profound view of what it must be like to have a lifetime of this conditioning. The feeling was that everyone could get along fine without me. To think that if I do X I will have to be this alone as long as I persist in doing X. What an incredible motivation for conformity! I would never have willingly had to grow up with that!

I vowed never to send my own child to his room, ever, having never done it before in his life. The youngest child of this parent at the age of three would cry and pound on the door during her three minute time-out. This parent's six year old son no longer raged. I was talking about raising kids with a Middle Class parent at my work place and he was lamenting that he has no options for punishing his son anymore because the son took himself off to his room before the parents had a chance to banish him. Isolation had become the preferred choice for this child. I think this happens for many Middle Class children at one point or another.

This preferred isolation becomes the blueprint for the pattern of Middle Class pretense. Middle Class pretense is isolation in public. Isolation and pretense are extremely confusing to Working Class people. It's so foreign to our thought process that we mostly reject it outright. We don't understand how anyone would ever act that way and dislike being around it. We don't get why you don't just get real! This is a big barrier to the goal of Middle Class people and Working Class people becoming allies. It's hard to be an ally to someone you can't stand to be around.

Some additional thinking about pretense patterns was brought up in a recent Raised Poor support group. One of our members brought up that RC tends to think of pretense as the exclusive domain of the Middle Class. However, the Raised Poor individual is often in a constant state of pretense when operating in public. There is a ton of societal pressure to pretend one isn't poor. The pretense is the result of terror of rejection, just as it is in the Middle Class form, though reasons for possible rejection are worlds apart from the Middle Class conditioning.

One difference is many poor families do not pressure themselves to retain the pretense in the home. Home is a safe place to let it all hang out. Raised Poor therefore often have a better understanding of their pretense pattern because they have to consciously cultivate it and they have the contrast of "getting real" at home. In many Middle Class homes the pretense is enforced as hard or harder than it is in public, in an effort to "prepare one for the big bad world". The Middle Class parent I lived with for a short time defined this as a "seamless lifestyle".

Working Class speech patterns are seen as uneducated and proof of stupidity. The most persistent obstacle to closeness between Working Class people and Middle and Owning Class people is language. A big part of the dumbing down process mentioned earlier is the pressure to act dumb in public. Part of acting dumb is sounding dumb. Simple, repetitive word choices using as few syllables as possible is the mainstay of the Working Class dialect. Add a few double negatives and an "Okie" style accent and you've got the Western U.S. Working Class dialect.

The first exposure to Middle Class speech patterns is TV. A much more hurtful exposure to the Middle Class dialect is in school. Not only does the teacher talk different, but she or he is always telling you the way you talk is all wrong (which often translates to you think all wrong) and you have to talk (and think) Middle Class. When children take this home they correct their parents, which restimulates the parents' school distress. The child has to choose between talking like mom or dad or talking like teacher.

Some parents do encourage their kids to "better themselves". Other parents get fierce about dumbing down the child. I knew a child once whose dad hadn't passed the fourth grade. When she was about to enter that grade he spent the month before school started threatening her with a pounding if she passed the fourth grade. It was so tragic.

My mother tried to jump class, so she learned to talk like teacher. She taught me the Middle Class dialect in the home. It was really the only tool she could give me to advance myself in life. All my friends spoke the Working Class dialect. When I got to school I did much better than the other children in class because of this jumpstart. This gave me a confidence in my own intelligence, something rare in Working Class and Raised Poor people. But it has also made it a little difficult to get close to my fellow workers at times because I forget to dumb down my talk when I get to thinking around them. My saving grace is the "Okie" style accent in my natural pattern of speech. If you say a multi-syllabic word with enough twang, it will pass anywhere among workers.

When you get to know folks, book learning no longer is an issue. Workers differentiate between book learning and intelligence. The big secret is we workers know we are very intelligent. You can't keep yourselves alive in a dangerous work place with only luck on your side. The vast majority of Working Class people know they are intelligent and will show it when they are with their own kind. Many Working Class people are intimidated or scornful of book learning. When a Middle class person walks up many workers become intimidated or scornful both of which cause them to clam up, often appearing stupid to the Middle Class person. The distress around this is largely school distress.

Something to remember about speech patterns is the words don't matter, it's the thought behind the words. The Middle Class habits of conformity in speech strikes the Working Class person as superficial. You aren't listening to the thoughts, just the words, just like teacher used to do. If you have an ear for the music of language try to match the rhythm and syntax of the user, but not in a mocking way. If you listen you will notice that the Working Class dialect sounds very choppy, sort of binary at times (on-off-on-off) -- while the Middle class dialect is often smoother sounding. The Working Class dialect tries not to use any more than two syllables in any word, and tends to approach the subject directly. Working class people have a more relaxed style of speech, seasoned with humor. There is an assumption that people want to hear them talk about themselves. While the Middle Class dialect likes to meander along on three or more syllable words when it can, and often talks in circles around the subject in a way that provides context and setting.

The Middle Class dialect was developed for conveying abstraction and detail. Middle Class people tend to speak more technically uptight and it often doesn't occur to them that people want to hear their story. There are many things that can not be clearly said in the Working Class dialect. The Working Class people can hear the Middle Class dialect better if you match the choppy rhythm, accent slightly and provide synonyms making it easier to convey abstract concepts. If you can't do this genuinely don't even try. It would be perceived as condescension.

I am presenting this information for awareness purposes. It may not be of practical use for you. A more practical approach might be 1) Be open about your class. 2) Relax and learn to connect. The first step is listening a lot and saying "Oh." 3) Talk your own way and let time foster trust.

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RESOURCES ON THINKING ABOUT CLASS AND CLASSISM

In print, online, video and film -- compiled by Maggie Jochild

Recommended Books:
Out of the Class Closet -- Lesbian Speak, edited by Julia Penelope, The Crossing Press, 1994.
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, Metropolitan, 2001.
Where We Stand: Class Matters, by bell hooks, Routledge (2000)
Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, by Studs Terkel, New Press (1997)
For-Giving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange, by Genevieve Vaughan, Plain View Press, 1997
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser, Houghton Mifflin, 2001
Stupid White Men (and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation), by Michael Moore, Regan Books, 2002

Other Resources in Print:
The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, edited by Tracy E. Ore, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2001
Old Money, The Mythology of America's Upper Class, by Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr., Alfred A. Knopf (1988)
Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, by David Brooks, Touchstone Books (2001)
How To Be, Contemporary Etiquette for African Americans, by Harriette Cole, Simon and Schuster (1999)
Created Equal: Reading and Writing About Class in America, by Benjamin DeMott, Harper Collins (1996)
The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can't Think Straight about Class, by Benjamin DeMott, Yale (1992)
Life on the Line: One Woman's Tale of Work, Sweat, and Survival, by Solange De Santis, Doubleday (1999)
Who Rules America?: Power and Politics, by William G. Domhoff, McGraw Hill (2002)
Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Excess, by Robert Frank, Free Press (1998)
Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fusell, Touchstone Books (1992)
The Redneck Manifesto, America's Scapegoats: How we got that way and why we're not going to take it anymore, by Jim Goad, Simon and Schuster (1999)
Color-Blind (seeing beyond race in a race-obsessed world), by Ellis Gose, Harper Collins (1997)
Media Messages, by Linda Holtzman, M.E. Sharpe (2000)
Kotlowitz, Alex. There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America. Anchor (1992)
Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, by Jonathan Kozol, Harperperennial (1992)
Money, Morals, & Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class, by Michele Lamont, The University of Chicago Press (1992)
Highbrow Lowbrow, The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America, by Lawrence W. Levine, Harvard University Press (1990)
The Tastemakers, by Russell Lynes, Grosset & Dunlap (1954)
Our Kind of People, Inside America's Black Upper Class, by Lawrence Otis Graham, Harper Collins (1999)
Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America, by Michael Parenti, St Martin's Press (1993).
Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America, by Joe Queenan, Hyperion (1998)
Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, by Richard Rodriguez, Bantam (1983)
Lives on the Boundary, by Mike Rose, Macmillan (1989)
American Beach: How Progress Robbed a Black Town (and Nation) of History, Wealth, and Power, by Russ Rymer, Harper (2000)
How to Marry the Rich, by Ginie Polo Sayles, Berkley Books (1992)
How to Meet the Rich, by Ginie Polo Sayles, Berkley Books (1999)
The Hidden Injuries of Class, by Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, Vintage Books (1972)
The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen, Penguin (1994)
Latitudes & Attitudes, an Atlas of American Tastes, Trends, Politics, and Passions, by Michael J. Weiss, Little, Brown and Company (1994)
White Trash: Race and Class in America, edited by Matt Wray and Annalee Newits, Routledge (1997)
The Working Class Majority: America's Best Kept Secret, by Michael Zweig, Cornell University Press (2000)

Recommended Video/Film:

People Like Us: Social Class in America
, a documentary special for public television, produced and directed by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker
Roger and Me and Pets or Food, both by Michael Moore
Norma Rae, starring Sally Field
Labor-Related Films in the Library of Congress Collection

Online Links:
Confronting Classism, from the Handbook for Nonviolent Action published by the War Resisters League
The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class Bibliography
The Feminist Values at Foundation for a Compassionate Society
Bread and Roses Cultural Project
Classism -- The Unspoken Ism by Ian Sample
General Sites on Social Class and Poverty
Inequality Organization
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
The Urban Institute
Coalition on Human Needs
Census Bureau
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Explorations in Social Inequality
Institute for Research on Poverty
Poverty Net by World Bank
Poverty Vision
PoorVision.org
Joint Center for Poverty Research

7 comments:

Amazon Women Rise said...

Brilliant article, thank you for all the work that you have put into it.

There is so little to be found on this subject, and it is so vital to our collective well-being.

Maggie Jochild said...

Thanks, Amazon Women Rise. I obviously agree with you about it being vital to our collective well-being. I thought my decades of collecting articles and good thinking should get out here in a more accessible form.

I know that what appears to be resistance to thinking and motion is always fear, and that choosing to "shut up" a messenger is always rooted in the emotion of hurt, but some weeks it's easier to remember than that others. When it's a hard week (and the news this week seems especially tough), I go back to basic theory and hopeful writing. And, if possible, I share it on -- acting powerful -- not power over, but power full.

Ya'll come back when you can, we'll have some iced tea and talk.

kat said...

a propos of nothing:
there's a new cafe in berkeley in which one can acquire sweet-tea! It's ever so exciting.

Maggie Jochild said...

Whaddya mean, "nothing"? That's important news!

There's a place here in Austin that serves it regular tea so sweet we called it DKA Brew (diabetic ketoacidosis). You have to ask for unsweetened specifically to get it that way.

Myra will want to go to that Berkeley place when Ginny has one of her art shows in the Bay Area again. But I can just imagine what Ginny will have to say about it. She can quote entire paragraphs from Sugar Blues, and when Myra argues with her, Ginny points out how the production of sugar has been used to perpetuate classism and racism for centuries.

However, as Hank Hill says with regard to alcoholism: "Don't blame the beer..." (grin)

Dark Daughta said...

Okay, the universe does work in odd ways. This really breaks a lot of what I've been writing about on my blog over the past few months down in some really basic ways. Would you mind if I linked to this? It's much more comprehensive than what I've written and much less full of cuss words. :)

Victoria said...

Well, that was painful... Reading through the workshop thing and mentally going through the steps, wondering when I wouldn't be stepping back or might even get to step forward (or at least go through one round standing still). But, no, per the instructions I would have had to have stepped back every single time. I guess you'd have to have a really big room in which to conduct this exercise?

Maggie Jochild said...

Yeah, Victoria, the first time I ran this exercise was at a local women's music festival in an open-air canvas tent. I wound up outside, as did one of my best friends at the opposite end of the tent. (Like you, I was the one taking a step backward every time.) Painful but extremely illuminating -- much more so for her than for me, because of course we carry all these class secrets inside and bridge the gap, those of us in the lower classes.

Thanks for reading.