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February 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 1:34 pm

Links to white anti-racist activist resources via the most recent (Re)Thinking Walking post by Jess.

Catalyst Project – San Francisco based.
AWARELA – Los Angeles based.
Dismantling Racism – looks like they’re based out of North Carolina?

Around class privilege and wealth:
Resource Generation

Edit: That site (Resource Generation) is sort of making my brain explode. Class-related tension swirled around a lot of my childhood – mostly, I believe, because of things (which I still don’t fully understand) having to do with my mom’s relationship to her parents and with the relationship between my mother and my step-mother re: my dad. But my class privilege and its relationship to my activism, my other privileges and my intimate relationships is something I’ve only very recently started to explore in an articulated way.

One of the hardest things here is that I don’t know what kind of class privilege I have re: wealth. I’ve taken some stabs in the dark based on things I’ve observed about myself and my family – and I know how much money I personally have access to (although I didn’t know that either until about two years ago) – but I honestly have no fucking clue how much money my family actually has. It’s not something we talk about. It’s not something we’ve ever talked about. I just know that I have never, ever in my life had to worry about it.

Certainly there have been times when I’ve been stressed out about money, and I believe that my parents and grandparents have had times when they’ve genuinely worried – but I don’t know what that “worry” entailed. I don’t think it’s ever been worry that they couldn’t feed their children. On the other hand, it hasn’t been the worry that, say, the family philanthropic foundation is about to go bankrupt or that we’ll have to sell the house in the Hamptons. (My dad and step-mom do own a second home in Italy, however, and while it’s a partitioned section of a renovated farmhouse, not a huge villa or something, I still sometimes don’t think they grasp how off-the-wall embarassingly-stinky-rich insane “my parents have a house in Italy” would sound to some of the people I work with.)

I think it’s somewhere around the worry that they couldn’t afford to put all their children through Ivy League colleges – coupled with the class-based assumption that their children could be accepted to such schools as long as we were bright and tried our hardest… But, again, I don’t really know what that means.

Ignorance of one’s privilege is, itself, a privilege. I doubt that adult children of families who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet have the luxury of being blithely ignorant about their parents’ financial situations – of being able to basically assume they just don’t need to worry about it. I feel like, if I want to make meaningful progress around understanding and divesting of my class privilege, then these are conversations I need to start having with my family.

That’s scary because there seems to be this huge, complex taboo around talking openly about money in our (white upper-middleclass?) culture generally, and in my families in particular. Or at least talking about money with “the children.” Maybe they talk about money with each other all the time. I have no idea. I tried to have a conversation once with my Dad (who’s the most accessible person on this issue – or, really, any issue) about my Mom’s long-term financial situation, and instead ended up just having a kind of meltdown in a roadside diner somewhere in the middle of New Jersey. Granted, there were other things going on there related to my relationship with my mother, mental health issues, my parents’ divorce etc. Still, it seems like a question I should be able to reasonably ask when I’m making decisions about the future: What degree of financial support, if any, should I expect my parents to need from me as they age?

And if we can’t even talk about something that basic, how the hell are we supposed to get into the nittier-grittier, stickier, scarier issues around wealth and class privilege?


1 Comment »

  1. […] very experiences I use to isolate myself—are shared by many, many others.  Two of my dear friends seemed also to have recognized […]

    Pingback by The Widening Gyre » Perfectionism, Depression and Boddhichitta — October 11, 2009 @ 1:51 am | Reply

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