Langston - Tired of Playing Monopoly

Langston - Tired of Playing Monopoly - I I N(XII/xx(l/lt I...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–10. Sign up to view the full content.

Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 4
Image of page 5

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 6
Image of page 7

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 8
Image of page 9

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 10
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: I I N (XII/xx (l/lt/ I llt’r/ [Ill/I'm More budget cuts are in the pipeline for Arledicaid, Food Stamps and other safety nets for Americans whose wages don’t even cover the cost of necessities. \Vithout a change in course, the gulf between the rich and everyone else will continue to widen, weakening our economy and our democracy. 'l‘he American Dream will be history instead ofpoverty. TIRED OF PLAYING MONOPOLY? Donna Langston I. A'lagnin, Nordstrom, The Hon, Sears, Penneys, Kmart, Goodwill, Salvation Army. If the order of this list of stores makes any sense to you, then we’ve begun to deal with the first question which inevitably arises in any discussion ofclass here in the U.S.7huh? Unlike our European allies, we in the US. are reluctant to recognize class differences. 'l‘his denial of class divisions func— tions to reinforce ruling Class control and domination. America is, after all, the supposed land of equal opportunity where, if you just work hard enough, you can get ahead, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. \Vhat the old boot— straps theory overlooks is that some were born with silver shoe horns. liiemale—headed households, communities of color, the elderly, disabled and children find themselves, disproportionately, living in poverty. lf hard work were the sole determinant ofyour ability to support yourselfand your family, surely we’d have a different outcome for many in our society. \Ve also, how— ever, believe in luck and, on closer examination, it certainly is quite a coinci— dence that the “unlucky” come from certain race, gender and class back- grounds. In order to perpetuate racist, sexist and classist‘ outcomes, we also have to believe that the current economic distribution is unchangeable, has always existed, and probably exists in this form throughout the known uni— verse; i.e., it’s “natural.” Some people explain or try to account for poverty or class position by focusing on the personal and moral merits of an individual. l’rom ‘Io \Vhitehorse (lochran, Donna Langston, and Carolyn \\'ootlward, etls., (fitting/Hg ()Hr I’Irz't'l': .l/I IIII/‘m/llrrmn in H lune/13‘ Sim/icy (Dubuque, l»\: Kendallrllunt, 1088). Reprinted by permission. lf people are poor, then it unlucky, didn’t try hard en victims. Alternative cxplar position are due to struc political power relations. ' ics such as race, gender, at In the myth of the cl; responsible for success. '1' which serves many functio and poor locked into a claé elly creating false hope. It] and poor that they can hav can escape the fate that aw into. Another way the r; enough visible tokens so ahead. 'l‘he creation ofhot in place and lays the blame us from resisting and chant inevitable, something we it equality of opportunity, th internalize the blame fort poor do not recognize the get a chance to control th. claiming that identity and ‘ 'l‘be myth also keeps t privileges awarded in a cla class beliefs in their own really can get ahead, then i be deserved, due to person According to this viewpoi‘ outcome of a fair game: “ always will be.” (Ilass is more than iust ence ofeconomic security. l are matters of survival, n be defined in important way lot mt)reispecifically, clast into and raised in, class isy in; it’s composed ofideas, bt you think, feel, act. look, di at, restaurants you eat in; cl tain; class is the very iobsi CVL’H determines when W61] become mothers long befi edicaid, lfood Stamps and n’t even cover the cost of the rich and everyone else and our democracy. The mart. Goodwill, Salvation sense to you, then we’ve ly arises in any discussion tallies. we in the US. are ll of class divisions func— ion. .'\IHCI‘lCLI is, after all, LI iust work hard enough, ‘aps. “hat the old boot— vvith silver shoe horns. the elderly. disabled and in poverty. lf hard work uourselfaml your family, r society. \\'e also, how— trtainly is quite a coinci— gender and class back— tssist outcomes, we also :)n is unchangeable, has ughout the known uni— )account for poverty or merits of an individual. >odward. cils.. (f/tr/Iigi/lg ()m‘ ~llunt. 1088). Reprinted by I)(I/lll1l I ail/grim} / I ‘/ lfpeople are poor, then it’s something they did or didn’t do; they were lazy, unlucky, didn’t try hard enough, etc. This has the familiar ring ofblaming the victims. Alternative explanations focus on the ways in which poverty and class position are due to structural, systematic, institutionalized economic and political power relations. These power relations are based firmly on dynam— ics such as race, gender, and class. In the myth of the classless society, ambition and intelligence alone are responsible for success. The myth conceals the existence of a class society. which serves many functions. ()ne ofthe main ways it keeps the working class and poor locked into a class—based system in a position of servitude is by cru— elly creating false hope. It perpetuates the false hope among the working class and poor that they can have different opportunities in life. The hope that they can escape the fate that awaits them due to the class position they were born into. Another way the rags—to—riches myth is perpetuated is by creating enough visible tokens so that oppressed persons believe they, loo, can get ahead. The creation ofhope through tokenism keeps a hierarchical structure in place and lays the blame for not succeeding on those who don’t. This keeps us from resisting and changing the class—based system. Instead, we accept it as inevitable, something we just have to live with. lfoppressed people believe in equality ofopportunity, then they won’t develop class consciousness and will internalize the blame for their economic position. If the working class and poor do not recognize the way false hope is used to control them, they won‘t get a chalice to control their lives by acknowledging their class position, by claiming that identity and taking action as a group. The myth also keeps the middle class and upper class entrenched in the privileges awarded in a class—based system. It reinforces middle— and upper— class beliefs in their own superiority. If we believe that anyone in society really can get ahead, then middle— and upper—class status and privileges must he deserved, due to personal merits, and enjoyedfiand defended at all costs. According to this viewpoint, poverty is regrettable but acceptable, just the outcome of a fair game: “There have always been poor people, and there always will be." Class is more than just the amount ofmoney you have; it’s also the pres— ence of economic security. For the working class and poor, working and eating are matters of survival, not taste. However, while one’s class status can be defined in important ways in terms ofmonetary income, class is also a whole lot more——specilically, class is also culture. As a result ofthe class you are born into and raised in, class is your understanding of the world and where you lit in; it’s composed ofideas, behavior, attitudes, values, and language; class is how you think, feel, act, look, dress, talk, move, walk; class is what stores you shop at, restaurants you eat in; class is the schools you attend, the education you at- tain; class is the very jobs you will work at throughout your adult life. (Ilass even determines when we marry and become mothers. \Vorking—elass women become mothers long before middle—class women receive their bachelor’s 13/) (Ill/xx tt/lt/ l/It'z/tn/lity degrees. \\'e experience class at every level ofour lives; class is who our friends are, where we live and work, even what kind ofcar we drive, ifwe own one, and what kind of health care we receive, if any. I lave I left anything out? In other words, class is socially constructed and all—encompassing. \Vlieli we experience classisin, it will he becattse of our lack of money (i.e., choices and power in this society) and becattse of the way we talk, think, act, move—because ofour culture. Class affects what we perceive as and what we have available to us as choices. Upon graduation from high school, I was awarded a scholarship to attend any college, private or public, in the state ofCalifornia. Yet it never oc— curred to me or tny family that it made any difference which college you went to. l ended tip just going to a small college in my town. It never would have occurred to me to move away from my family for school, because no one ever had and no one would. I was the first person in my family to go to college. l had to ligure out from reading college catalogs how to apply—no one in my family could have sat down and said, “\Yell, you take this test and then you re— ally should think about. . . .” Although tests and high school performance had shown I had the ability to pick up white middle—class lingo, 1 still had quite an adjustment to make—it was lonely and isolating in college. l lost my friends from high schoolithey were at the community college, vo—tech school, working, or married. I lasted a year and a half in this foreign environment before I quit college, married a factory worker, had a baby and resumed living in a community I knew. ()ne middle—class friend in college had asked ifl’d like to travel to liurope with her. l ler father was a college professor and peo— ple in her family had actually travelled there. My family had seldom been able to take a vacation at all. :\ couple oftiines my parents were able—by saving all yearito take the family over to the coast on their annual two—week vacation. I‘d seen the time and energy my parents invested in trying to take a family vacation to some place a few hours away; the idea of how anybody ever got to l‘iurope was beyond me. lfclass is tnore than simple economic status but one‘s cultural background as well, what happens ifyou’re born and raised middle class, but spend some of your adult life with earnings below a middle—class income bracket—are you then working—class? Probably not. lfyour economic position changes, you still have the language, behavior, educational background, ete., ofthe middle class, which you can bank on. You will always have choices. Men who consciously try to refuse male privilege are still male; whites who want to challenge white priv— ilege are still white. I think those who come from middle—class backgrounds need to recognize that their class privilege does not float otlt with the rinse water. Middle—class people can exert incredible power iust by being nice and po— lite. 'lihe middle—class way ofdoing things is the standard—they’re always right, just by being themselves. Beware ofmiddle—class people who deny their privi— lege. Many people have times when they struggle to get shoes for the kids, when budgets are tiO‘ht etc. 'l‘his isn’t the same as lonU'—te1‘iii economic conditions b b 7 b without choices. Being history of education. V that yott share the sar grandparents were prt more likelyyou‘ll heal or ex en ifyou don‘t th I low about if yot struggle. usually thro noinic level: do you be class people may suct dress. talk. and act mi doing things. it all de middle—class world it friends and ways. Contrary to our St the working class is lit person of color, ifyou likely to be working Cl Indian or .\sian .\me white working classes. ilege to provide a mor people are often grot made among the worl families are supportct .\lost working—poor f2 and women. .\lany pot \ttacks on the wt example ofclassism in try whereby welfare ft teed loans. oil depletit e\eryone in .\meriea i form of tax deduction poor, it‘s in the fortnt iation connected to \‘H which is called “inceu “welfare” is the beliel knows there are no i focusing the same ang cheat on their tax revt bling about. ’lihe "d of stigma to program whose recipients are }‘ assumption is that mo not dcser\ ing of their 5; class is who our friends drive, if w e own one, and ft anything out? In other ng. \Vhen we experience 3., choices and power in t, move\because ofour have available to us as twarded a scholarship to alifornia. Yet it never oc— 3which college you went wn. It never would have ool, because no one ever family to go to college. I to apply‘no one in my :his test and then you re— school performance had lingo, I still had quite an ‘ollege. I lost my friends rollege, \o—tech school, lis foreign environment baby and resutncd living college had asked if I’d lege professor and peo— ly had seldom been able vere able‘by saving all mal two—w eek vacation. trying to take a family 0w anybody ever got to es cultural l')ackground :lass, but spend some of ome bracket~are you aition changes, you still tc., of the middle class, en who consciously try 0 challenge white priv— ldle—class backgrounds oat out with the rinse itby being nice and po— —they’re always right, who deny their privi— toes for the kids, when economic conditions [MN/m laH/ga‘lm/ / 3/ without choices. Being working class is also generational. l‘ixamine your family‘s history ofeducation, work, and standard ofliving. It may not be a coincidence that you share the same class status as your parents and grandparents. lfyottr grandparents were professionals, or your parents were prolessionals, it’s much more likelyyou'll be able to grow up to become a yuppie, ifyourheart so desires. or even ifyoti don’t think about it. llow about if you’re born and raised poor or working class. yet through struggle, usually through education, you manage to achieve a tlil’ltrcnt eco— nomic level: do you become middle class? (Ian you pass? i think some working» class people may successfully assimilate into the middle class by learning to dress, talk, and act middle classfirto accept and adopt the middle—class way of doing things. It all depends on how far they‘re able to go. To succeed in the middlc~class world means facing great pressures to abandon working—class friends and ways. Contrary to our stereotype ofthe working class~w hite guys in overallsrm the working class is not homogeneous in terms of race or gender. lfyou are a person of color, if you live in a female—headed household, you are much tnore likely to be working class or poor. 'l‘he experience oflElack. Latino, .\merican Indian or .\sian .\merican working classes will differ significantly from the white working classes, which have traditionally been able to rely on white privA ilege to provide a more elite position within the working class. \l'orking—class people. are often grouped together and stereotyped, but distinctions can be made among the working class, working poor, and poor. .\lany working—class families are supported by unionized workers who pos~sess marketable skills. .\lost working—poor families are supported by non—unionized, unskilled men and women. .\lany poor families are dependent on welfare for their income. .\ttacks on the welfare system and those who live on welfare are a good example of classistn in action. \\'e have a “dual welfarew system in this coun~ try whereby welfare for the rich in the form oft-axvfree capital gain. guaran~ teed loans, oil depletion allowances, etc., is not recognized as welfare. Almost everyone in .\meriea is on some type ofwelfare; but. ifyou’re rich, it’s in the fortn oftax deductions for “business” meals and entertaintnent, and ifyou’re poor, it‘s in the form of food stamps. “l‘he difference is the stigma and humil~ iation connected to welfare for the poor, as cotnparcd to welfare for the rich, , which is called “incentives.” . . . :\ common focal point for complaints about “welfare” is the belief that most welfare recipients are cheatersw goodness knows there are no middle~class income tax cheaters out there. lmagine focusing the same anger and energy on the way corporations and big business cheat on their tax revenues. Now, there would be some dollars worth quib— bling about. The “dual welfare" system also assigns a different degree of stigtna to programs that benefit women and children . . . and programs whose recipients are primarily male, such as \eterans‘ benefits. The implicit assumption is that mothers who raise children do not work and therefore are not deserving oftheir daily bread crumbs. l 22 (471133711111 Inequality Anti—union attitudes are another prime example of classism in action. At best, unions have been a very progressive force for workers, women and peo— ple of color. At worst, unions have reflected the same regressive attitudes which are out there in other social structures: classism, racism, and sexism. (Ilassism exists within the working class. The aristocracy of the working class~unionized, skilled workers—has mainly been white and male and have viewed thelnselves as being better than unskilled workers, the unemployed, and the poor, who are mostly women and people of color. The white working class nmst commit itself to a cultural and ideological transforination of racist attitudes. The history of working people, and the ways we’ve resisted many types ofopprcssions, are not something we’re taught in school. Missing from our education is information about workers and their resistance. Working—class women’s critiques have focused on the following issues: [Cr/Haitian: \Vhite middle—class professionals have used academic jargon to rationalize and justify classism. The whole structure of education is a classist system. Schools in every town rellect class divisions: like the store list at the beginning of this article, you can list schools in your town by what classes of kids attend, and in most cities you can also list by race. The classist system is perpetuated in schools with the tracking system, whereby the “dumbs” are tracked into homemaking, shop courses and vocational school futures, while the “smarts” end up in advanced math, science, literature, and college~prep courses. If we examine these groups carefully, the coincidence of poor and working—class backgrounds with “dumbs” is rather alarming. ’l‘he standard measurement ofsupposed intelligence is white middle—class linglish. lfyou’re other than white middle class, you have to become bilingual to succeed in the educational system. lfyou’re white middle class, you only need the language and writing skills you were raised with, since they’re the standard. To do well in society presupposes middle—class background, experiences and learning for everyone. The tracking system separates those from the working class who can potentially assimilate to the middle class from all our friends, and labels us “college bound.” After high school, you go on to vocational school, community college, or college—~public or privatee‘according to your class position. Apart from the few who break into middle-class schools, the classist stereotyping ofthe work— ing class as being dumb and inarticulate tracks most into vocational and low— skilled jobs. A few of us are allowed to slip through to reinforce the idea that equal opportunity exists. But for most, class position is destiny~determining our educational attainment and employment. Since we must overall abide by middle‘class rules to succeed, the assumption is that we go to college in order to “better ourselves”~i.e., become more like them. l suppose it’s assumed we have “yuppie envy” and desire nothing more than to be upwardly mobile indi— viduals. lt’s assumed that we want to fit into their world. But many of us remain connected to our communities and families. Becoming college educated doesn’t mean we have to, or want to, erase our first and natural language and value system. It’s important nities to work, live, an folly: i\ l id d l e—cl ass decide which jobs the commitments, needs f< working class and poc llartsock). \Vorking-c between work in the hi ability to purchase ser upper—class women can of their children, and “other” women are? W class women. ()nly midi ents put you through sc and if to have babies, women to take care of\ reer. ;\fter the birth ofi one loading trucks at nig quite privileged because the day—time job, I was i work to support my fami Sleep became a privilege versity suggested to me. to clean my house and w reality, both econ...
View Full Document

  • Spring '09
  • Any

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern