Four Ways Nonprofits Can Address the Classism Within

Several years ago, I was sitting in a diversity training of a nonprofit I helped manage. We’d spent the morning talking about inequality within the organization around the issues of race, sexual orientation, gender and even political leanings. All of a sudden tears began to roll down one woman’s face. Despite obviously trying to hold back the tears, the woman cried harder. With a look of utter embarrassment, she jumped up and ran to the bathroom. When she came back and a couple of us quietly asked her what was wrong, she said she’d rather not talk about it. At lunch, however,... Read More

Class Diversity Improves Your Nonprofit Board

Nonprofit organizations, which are legal entities that must be approved by state governments, allow people to join together and combine resources to achieve common goals. Most often nonprofits are started by people who are passionate about addressing social problems or responding to needs in their communities. So why do so many nonprofits fail to address the issue of class among staff, members and volunteers – and even fall into the trap of exacerbating classism? Class Diversity Nonprofit organizations sometimes lack representation from some segments of the community they serve. For example, a group working to address an issue affecting people... Read More

Charlottesville, Trump and Nice Nazis?!?

How Did We Get Here? The scenes coming out of Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend were both sickening and saddening. As a black woman in her 60s, I felt a sense of dread and panic all weekend as I watched white supremacists, American Nazis and members of other hate groups terrorize a town that had taken the courageous stand to take down public symbols of racism and divisiveness – reminders of people who sought to tear apart the United States. I watched people who proudly displayed views that are racist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-immigrant – anti anything that they think encroaches on their distorted understanding of... Read More

Reader Feedback on Classism Exposed

More than 100 people responded to the summer 2017 Classism Exposed 5-Minute Survey. The responses were as diverse as the people who responded, as evidenced by the demographic information collected. However, there were clear preferences for the length of blog posts, blog topics and for how often readers want to receive the Classism Exposed blog eBlast. It is important to note, as you read the survey results, that the 100 respondents are a small microcosm of the more than 6,000 subscribers who receive the blog monthly or semimonthly. Classism Exposed Topics We asked readers about topics ranging from class privilege (including the invisibility... Read More

Is Elvis-Hating Classist?

So much depends on whether you are looking up at Elvis from the working poor or working-class or down at him from the middle- and upper-class. When you look at photos of Elvis fans at his funeral or Graceland, they don’t usually look well-off. Their haircuts, clothes, whole demeanor suggest they came from the same class Elvis did, the poor class. I come from a family of many Elvis fans, and, mostly I’m a fan myself. Just stating that makes me feel uneasy in my stomach. I feel myself going over a line that separates dumb hillbillies, rednecks, rubes and... Read More

First-Generation Resistance in College

Being a first generation college or graduate student is already a difficult identity to navigate at a university, but even more difficult is attempting to challenge the dominate narratives and curriculum which may lack multiple perspectives, culture awareness and/or critical analysis. As I started to voice my opinions and question the curriculum, I saw that resistance to university programs that perpetuate classist and racist behavior could look like I was taking my great educational opportunity for granted. Resistance is an act of change, not aimless aggravation, when it comes to access and transformation in higher education for low-,income and first... Read More

What Happens When Degrees Aren’t Enough?

  Being a first generation college student often feels like being perpetually caught between two or more worlds. Many of us learn that we must weave ourselves seamlessly through poverty, familial commitments, academic demands and more in order to be successful. But what happens when code-switching and your degree don’t seem to be enough? A month ago, I graduated with my master’s degree. My last semester was spent looking for jobs, networking and meeting with people from my school’s career services center – all in an effort to prepare me for “the real world.” Unfortunately, time and time again I... Read More

Vulnerability Is Courage: A First Gen Student Journey

Feeling Vulnerable as a First Gen As a first generation student, I felt vulnerable, and I didn’t want anyone to know it. So I didn’t ask for help, and I failed out of Syracuse University after a year and a half. My next attempt was at Central Connecticut State University, where I was a walk on for the Division 1 Swim Team. I had learned to work harder, and I knew to ask for help, but the latter backfired on me. There was one particular class that I struggled in, so I decided to ask the professor for help. His... Read More