Friday, May 22, 2009

Economics and Class

So I am sitting here watching Oprah and today's show is about "class" and how people that used to be "upper and/or middle class" are now feeling like they are lower class with our current economic situation. The whole "class" system has always baffled me. I have never completely understood it. See I grew up "lower class" by all standards. My mom was a single mother raising 2 kids in "the hood", working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and trying to go to school. Although everything around me screamed "lower class" (ie: the part of town we lived in, our gov't house, utility disconnections, etc.) My mother, allowed my sister and I to maintain what we perceived was a "middle class" upbringing. We went to private school from K-8. When we were old enough to want trendy and name brand things my mother got a job at the store that we liked to shop at to provide us with whatever we wanted. (she made many sacrifices for us) Not only that, but all of my neighbors drove real nice cars, wore the newest clothes, had the most stylish hair do's, the nails, etc. and in my hood, it wasn't the outside of your house that mattered. It was all about the inside. So a neighbor might have an unkept yard and a house with no curb appeal, but once you stepped inside their front door, you'd be in like a mansion with chandeliers, big leather furniture, sculptures, & big screens. to me...we were doin alright!! Back then, nobody spoke of 401k's, savings, stocks, bonds. I had no knowledge of those terms growing up. All i knew is that I had my own room with a boombox and a phone, was on the cheerleading squad, never wore the same outfit twice, and got to the beauty shop occasionally for a "do". My future looked bright...I did what i was supposed to do, excelled, and carried myself in a certain way. Got a scholarship and went to college. It was there that I learned that I wasn't as high up on the social, class scale as I thought. It was there that I met other people that actually really had money. They weren't on scholarship, their parents actually paid for them to be there. They also had finer things than I did. Designer handbags, new cars, real jewelry that they didnt buy "hot". This is where things started to flip for me. Since I was on scholarship I had to do Work Study which means I had to clean buildings on campus, serve food in the cafeteria, whatever they wanted me to do basically. I got to experience how those that "have" treated the "have-nots" nothing overly blatant...maybe just a look or glance or vibe that let me know...that I was lower. In todays economy, as Oprahs show pointed out, people are seeing themselves lose the class status that they enjoyed before and are now having to work jobs and be in places that they looked down on before. This situation has taught America, the same lesson that I learned in college... that class status doesnt really matter. The only thing that matters is what kind of person you are and how you treat other people. If this recession is what it took to teach this lesson then obviously the lesson needed to be taught and I hope that we all can learn something during these times.

Next Time:
Are people really in the socioeconomic class that they think they are in? In other words... Are you really upper/middle class if you are up to your eyeballs in debt, loans and credit cards???

Coming Soon:
Confessions of a Black Trekkie

...Stay tuned :-)

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