I am no expert on social issues. Some may say I’m the worst candidate to comment. I’ve lived a middle-class life and I am an Eastern European woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. I have, however, attempted to remain aware of the world around me. I try to live consciously.
I had always thought that race was one of the biggest issues plaguing our society. Hatred of others because of their heritage or the colour of their skin. But lately, I am finding that there is another disease, equally damaging and one that often goes hand in hand with racism. Classism.
Since I’ve become aware of it, I feel like I see it everywhere and it shocks me. It’s usually subtle and occurs in the most unlikely situations but I guarantee that just as I have been, you have been guilty of it.
I think having kids and being around other parents has been one of the most revealing experiences for me. People are fierce about their values and beliefs when it involves their children. Which also means they become more transparent. Things you are willing to overlook in terms of your own self become unacceptable when it comes to your kids.
What scares me most about classism is that it is so subtle. So easily overlooked. And, of course, in its most basic manifestation, it simply stems from people wanting to feel better than others on some level. But it breeds hatred and separates people. To me the perfect example of it is the old cliche: you discriminate against a race until a person of that race becomes your friend, or brother-in-law. Then all of a sudden, he’s different. Not like the rest of them. He’s of a different class.
I find it often rears its ugly head when I am around people of the same race as me. I am married to a South Asian man and we have 2 kids. We have thankfully never been subjected to any direct prejudice. But it amazes me how the same people who are SUPER open-minded when all of us are present, begin to utter the stupidest things when only I am around. All of a sudden a comment that would be (and is) inappropriate to say in front of my husband, flies out of their mouths with frivolous confidence. I guess the fact that we are the same “race” and “class” makes it ok?
But it’s not restricted to when I’m around other white people. I have seen classism among EVERY race. And it makes me feel like even though we live in this multicultural world where equal rights is a common term, we really haven’t come very far from the time of Kings and Serfs.
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