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What To Do About Class

Posted February 23rd, 2011 by cws_mcqu

Over the past couple of weeks I have been discussing where I identify with social class and how my new identity has changed my outlook on life.  Now the question remains, what am I going to do from here?  Being in an area of privilege, I have the opportunity to serve a community that is oppressed throughout society.  Over the past three weeks I have been reading ad researching various ways to serve communities that are oppressed due to class.  Although breaking the institutionalized classism in America is difficult, starting to slow the growth of classist remarks on a personal level is extremely feasible.

Institutionalized classism is one of the reasons that I do not fit into lower or working class.  I was able to break through the bounds of my background and am currently enrolled at a state university.  Since many people live in areas of lower income, the school systems in turn have lower funds to use, and students tend to have a much harder time to access higher education past high school.  Growing up in Sherwood, Oregon, which is a predominantly upper middle class suburb, gave me the opportunity to know what to do get into college, how to get into college, and my school had the resources and access to wealth to provide me with multiple extracurricular events to hold college days where representatives from around the nation came and gave information sessions to all of the students.  This is one of many various forms of institutionalized classism, but as I said before, it is hard to break down these types of classism.

On an individual level, however, much can be done to change classist acts or even stop them. One of the main ideas that is expressed in multiple sections throughout Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, is controlling classist statements, actions, or ideas.  Assuming that people have the same access to resources as I do has been a hard concept to develop because I had thought for all of my life that I came from lower or working class.  Thinking or saying things like, ‘Why doesn’t he or she go to college so they do not have to work for X, Y, or Z’ is a classist idea or comment.  It is a hard habit for me to break, but this prejudice idea will later formulate into actions.  I have had to destroy the idea that I simply pulled myself up by my boot straps because, in the long run, I had the ability to access wealth from my extended family, and my community also provided me with extra opportunities since it was a wealthy town.

All in all, the ideas of dominance and subordinate groups were constructed by society.  This means that in turn it can be deconstructed.  I have simply started on my journey, and I am not sure exactly where it will take me.  The only thing that I can control is that I can aim to do good and change what we have created in society.

Kameron Beeks

Community Relations Facilitator

East Side and Co-operative Houses

RHA Liaison

The comments shared by the Community Relations Facilitator program are strictly the point of view from the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of UHDS. If this article has inspired a desire to dialogue, the author, or another CRF and/or any Resident Assistant, Resident Director or CoOp Director would be happy to participate. Please contact Nina Gassoway (Nina.Gassoway@oregonstate.edu) to assist in making arrangements.

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