Don’t be a classist anti-racist!

While naming “white privilege” is an important part of exposing and dismantling structural racism, I can see how the term “privilege” is hard to swallow for white folks on the downside of our economic system.  Being marginalized in one power system doesn’t mean you can’t be privileged in another.  But this particular form of pushback should not be so easily dismissed as generic white resistance to confronting white privilege.  Rather, the resistance I experience from poor and working class white people feels like an important opportunity to check my own class privilege and cross-class competence, as well as to develop... Read More

Celebrating Felice Yeskel

Felice Yeskel, a peaceful warrior for economic justice, has left us.   After a 2-year battle with cancer, Felice died on Tuesday Jan 11, surrounded by loving family and friends in Amherst, Mass. Felice was a remarkable trainer and public speaker on issues of class, human liberation and economic justice.  Her irreverent sense of humor and big-hearted embrace of everyone will be greatly missed. Felice grew up on the Lower East Side of New York, the only child of Phyllis and Harry Yeskel.  Her father drove a truck that collected flour sacks from bagel and bialy bakeries around the city.    Felice... Read More

Memories of Felice and class

A few memories of Felice and class from Betsy Leondar-Wright I remember when Felice first identified herself as working-class. When she was in her mid-20s, members of Movement for a New Society (MNS) began caucusing by class background, and she joined a middle-class caucus. After all, she had always known that she’d be going to college; wasn’t that a marker of being middle class? But Fai Coffin, a Jewish working-class woman, took her aside and told her she was not middle class, she was working class; that values about education and class worked differently for Jews. Felice had grown up... Read More

Mourning the loss of Felice Yeskel

Felice Yeskel, co-founder of Class Action, passed away in her home early this morning after a courageous struggle with cancer. Felice was a tireless activist working to bring about social change. Through fearlessly sharing her personal story, first as a lesbian and later sharing her working-class history to help break down the walls of classism, she touched the lives of thousands of people. Her passion to help create a more just world for all of us led her and Chuck Collins to found United for a Fair Economy, to found  the Stonewall Center at UMASS, and six years ago to... Read More

What was the most classist comment of 2010?

It was a bumper year for callous, elitist politicians and CEOs spouting off in public. Cast your vote for one of these doozies, or add another 2010 classist comment to this list: • When Carl Paladino ran for governor of New York, he got a lot of media coverage for his homophobic, racist and anti-Muslim comments, but less for his lovely little plan to convert prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, reported by the Associated Press: “Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene.” • When there was... Read More

Class in the Classroom

There is a loud silence about social class in U.S. public schools. The silence was deafening on the first day of the course I recently taught — a course in which teachers look closely at how education in the United States is deeply entangled with social class. In this course, students look closely on their own memories of school as we learn how social class affects access to opportunity, to a sense that one has the right to dream limitless dreams, to the right to feel pride in one’s family and community. Students from poor and working-class homes tell me... Read More

‘Tis the Season When the Poor are Freezin’

Lack of enough opportunity, social inequality, and exploitation are the main factors in capitalist America that cause poverty, but an often overlooked contributor are the “ghetto taxes” and abusive social policies that go hand in glove with lack of incomes that keeps people poor. Ghetto taxes are the extra fees, rates, and miscellaneous surcharges that the poor as a class are forced to pay for the same basic goods and services that the middle and upper classes get for less – a lot less. One example is life-sustaining utilities: natural gas and electric. The rates you’re charged for utilities are... Read More

The Santa Secret: Santa Plays Favorites

Australian author Dr Joanne Faulkner created a stir worldwide recently when she advocated for parents to not tell their children the Santa Claus story. “[Parents] should not create a fantasy where children are not given any basis for knowing what’s real and what’s pretend.” She said that she regretting telling her children about Santa, telling the Herald Sun newspaper, “My oldest daughter was extremely upset when she found out about Santa. She felt like she had been lied to and it’s an awful feeling.” Apparently she regretted it so much she couldn’t even come to terms with the fact that... Read More