“I became a different person — a powerful person — when I was working with poor people. I realized that my voice had a place. I was successful in organizing in my home community — a community where many outside organizers had failed to make any headway.”
“I want to work myself out of a nonpaying job, to where everyone earns or receives government benefits in the amount required to take care of all basic needs. I want to work toward a land where all are fed and all have a bed, dignity, and rights. I want to work with worn-out tools.”
“I think one of the privileges of being middle class is that I don’t remember thinking about money until we didn’t have it. Yet it wasn’t until I entered graduate school and took a class on ‘Stigma and Prejudice’ that I started to critically examine my experiences crossing back and forth between social classes. I began to think a lot about my experience in the cafeteria and what it taught me about the stigma of poverty: how poverty can be visible, invisible, or become visible over the course of an interaction.”
“Survivorship is a gift of my poverty-class upbringing. Resiliency, the ability to take the blows and come up swinging. Empathy, generosity, an open heart; things you acquire from being rejected, doing without, and carrying a burden alone.”
“I have also found that ethnicity and class intersect in very intersecting ways. It is difficult to separate them for me; I am certain that my life would have been different if I came from a higher class background, or if I was poor but not Mexican American. My family background supports the stereotype of “poor Mexicans,” but my current class standing does not. I have found that it is very difficult for people to understand this.”
You could tell her mother, combed, brushed and plaited her hair every morning before school. Her face was always shiny and clean. She smiled a lot and smelled good like baby oil. At no time were her knees ever ashy.
She was better than me because she wore pleated skirts all the time with clean white blouses with pressed round collars. A gold necklace with a tiny cross hung over her buttoned blouse. Her socks were always clean and folded down evenly around her ankles just before the straps of her patent leather shoes.
“Poor girls are exposed all the time to the harsh and judging world, and their exposures are spat out of people’s mouths, ‘Look at her, now why on earth would you dress like that?’ ‘What’s she doing with a boy that age? She’s just trying to be like her welfare queen mama.”
During the time of my illness and homelessness, I felt like "those people" I'd been warned about, as if being mentally ill and homeless were a contagious disease and that those afflicted must have done something wrong to put themselves in that position.
- Jacques Fleury
Dad seldom trusted anyone with a college degree. He took great pleasure in using colorful words to describe political and cultural elites who manipulate the nation. Those words lurk beneath the surface of my middle-class ways.
- Dwight Lang