Welcome to IBARW. Please see the introduction here. I’ve changed my default icon for the week. I’d be happy to modify or create one for anyone.
A few disclaimers: I speak only for myself. Feel free to disagree with me. I enjoy dialoguing with people, even arguing and debating, but I don’t tolerate wank. I’m white. I’m against racism. Some of my flist are POC. Be respectful. It’s pretty hard to piss me off, but once I’ve lost my temper, heaven help you because I take off the gloves. This concludes the warning portion of our program.
I chose this topic because it’s an argument I see a lot, especially on the internet. I think of it as the Will Shetterly argument, but I’ve seen it spoken often by many other people as well. The argument goes thusly: Racism doesn’t exist anymore; racism has been superceded by classism or there was never racism to begin with. Solve classism and 'apparent racism' will disappear.
This argument is bullshit.
My dad is upperclass and grew up upper-middle class. Typical
My mom grew up lower class. Lower, urban, working class Catholic, to be exact. Her father never made more than ten thousand dollars a year; he worked two or three jobs his whole life, except when he was in the army. He was a skilled tradesman; he laid print (justified law books, mostly) with lead type. He chain smoked Lucky Strikes and drank coffee by the gallon. He had ten kids and a wife. My mom didn’t have her own clothes, money was illusory, food was short, she worked to put her brothers through school. She got her college degree when she was in her forties.
During my parents’ marriage, my family was mostly middle class. We had a house and car, dogs and bikes, and clothes and privilege. Because of my father’s
asshole tendencies gambling a second mortgage on the house on the stockmarket without my mom’s knowledge, my mom worked for some of that time. We were still privileged.
Then they divorced. And what a divorce it was. I hope it comes as no shock to anyone here that my mom and I tumbled down the class ladder to solid lower, working class. In fact, we were piss poor. During my first year of college, my family’s combined yearly income was six thousand dollars (for myself, my mom, and my brother). My father’s disposable play-money income was nine thousand dollars a month. Not mortgage, car payment, insurance, no. Play money. He was making high-six and low seven figure income in that era, salarywise, not including stock options or assorted benefits.
I’m still not sure how my family managed those years. As example of my poverty credentials: our car was up on blocks in the back yard. We traded work for government cheese from a friend.
Thus and so.
Let us turn now to Supernatural. Yes, I mean SPN. The show. Sam and Dean are of my culture. They’re white; they grew up in
Sam, on the other hand, is an incredibly good liar. He’s a chameleon. When he’s at
Sam can fake it. I can fake it, too. Anyone who’s seen me in person could probably tell you, but I make quite a good upperclass academic, right down to the insane vocabularly and convoluted sentences and coffee snobbery.
Not only can I pass for upperclass, but I often do. Upperclass get better service in restaurants, better responses to their resumes and interviews, better approval from significant other parental figures, etc. I’m human: I know how this works. I have the skill, and I exploit it. Life is short, often nasty, brutish, and short. (See? That was just me being upperclass academic.)
So, I’m in a position to know: upperclass is better treated than lowerclass.
Is classism wrong? Yes. But I’ll be upfront: I game any system to keep my family safe. Without regret. Any system. Moving on.
Racism isn’t the same as classism. How do I know? I’m going to say some uncomfortable things here. But sometimes it’s the only way.
I’ll tell you how I know. Because I get better treatment when alone or with other whites, even in lowerclass mode, than I do when I’m with my friends of color. I get faster, more polite service. I get questions and concerns answered quicker. I see faster responses to my apartment problems than they do.
When I’m alone, I get to hear other whites make racial comments that reveal obvious and longstanding prejudice. When I’m with my friends of color, I don’t hear these comments, but I see some of the results of the underlying beliefs.
But! I can hear the counter-argument coming. How do you know it isn’t because your friends of color are lowerclass? Hah. Because by and large, my friends of color are higher class than me, and always have been.
If it was just classism that choked this country, I would get better treatment when I was with my friends of color, rather than the opposite. Racism is not classism. Racism is wrong. Classism is wrong. But they are not the same.
Edited to add: The author of the blog post I linked to above, Will Shetterly, has replied at my greatestjournal account. I've directed him over here and also responded. You can see what he had to say here.
Edit the Second, Daughter Of Edit! Mr. Shetterly informs me that Ending Race: The Finish Line is his preferred link to his views on race and racism. I disagree wholeheartedly with that post, too.
Edit the Third, Grandaughter of Edit! I have banned Mr. Shetterly from comments for disrespectful behavior to other commenters.
Edit the FOURTH. This had damn well better be the last edit, Mr. Shetterly. I banned Mr. Shetterly, but before I could finish changing settings to disable anonymice comments, because I do not know how and had to go look it up, because up until now people in my LJ have been some of the most erudite, interesting, kind, fun, people EVER, he made another comment, anonymously and again disrespectfully. I have therefore turned on screen comments for anyone not on my F-List. I am sorry for any delay this creates in the discussion and I appreciate your patience and bearing with me. ~VM
Edit the Fifth. Mr. Shetterly informs me in an anonymous, but signed, comment below that he was unaware that he had been banned when left the first anonymous comment. I have decided to unscreen this one comment from him, but it is the ONLY ONE of his that I will unscreen, and I am ONLY unscreening it so that others may see it and judge for themselves.
And now I am going to go write porn. Exhaustedly yours, ~VM