Class Matters Workshops

Download this brochure for more information on Class Matters workshops.

If you're interested in hosting a workshop, please click here for a brochure, or contact me about booking an event.

Order Class Matters

Class Matters book cover

Order Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists by Betsy Leondar-Wright (New Society Publishers, 2005).

Press Coverage of CM

Classist Comments

What's the most classist thing you ever heard someone say?

(I'm not talking about someone like Bill O'Reilly or your right-wing uncle. More specifically, what's the most classist thing you ever heard a liberal or progressive person say?)

Read five interviewees' answers — and my own.

Class and Other Identities

How do you experience class differently because of your race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, or other identity? What class dynamics do you notice within your identity groups?

Here's how a few visitors answered those questions:

And answers from the Class Matters book:

Class and Other Identities

African Americans and Class

Class identity in the Black community is complex and often confusing. It cannot be evaluated by using measures identical to those used for whites. If the white upper class is made up of captains of corporations, there is no black equivalent. You might have the person who runs the black insurance company, but that's not the same as Ford Motor company.

During segregation, education levels did not result in the income level you'd expect. So class had more to do with values and behaviors. I describe myself as coming from a working-class family, based on income level and occupation. Most people in my family were well-educated but did manual and domestic work, not the kind of work their training was for. So your job title didn't necessarily correlate with your relative status in a community that is economically and racially oppressed. We were lower-middle-class by education and status, even while we were working-class by income.

There were also people who were genuinely middle-class in the black community, black business owners and doctors. The true black bourgeoisie I find problematic, as alien to me as I perhaps am alien to someone working as a hospital orderly. They are generally not radical, because the system worked for them, and when the system works for you, you often don't question. "I can make it, my family made it, what's so bad about living in the U.S.?"

— Barbara Smith

There's a problem of authenticity for anyone who is not, say, sufficiently poor and black. I've seen it play out in this way. Some white middle-class foundation officers are not critical at all of certain black organizations or black working-class leaders. Whatever they do, the foundations support because they are an "authentic voice." Some program officers here in Chicago fund some really bad community organizations because the leaders of those organizations put themselves out as the authentic, black, working-class voice. The foundation person refuses to question that, doesn't ask "Why are you working on this and that issue?" Authenticity ploys and games are everywhere.

Saying that someone is more oppressed than someone else is used in an opportunistic way. Like if I raise something at a meeting, someone who disagrees may say, "well, you go to Yale," as a way to win. It's ubiquitous. So I guess I would not want anyone to relinquish skills of critical analysis. It can be hard, but it at least has to be struggled through.

— Dorian Warren