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

Jews and Class

I am the daughter of immigrants. In 1933, my father had to leave behind his wealth in Germany. He was from an upper-middle-class background, being groomed to be a judge, when one of his mentors told him, "it's gonna be bad." He had to leave family, friends and profession behind and make his way. He lived in Holland until 1939 and then came to the U.S. My mother's family was upper-middle-class. Years later my folks realized that they came on the same boat, her upstairs and him in steerage.

I have class vertigo in my life, with European bourgeois attitudes but not much money. My brother went up and my sisters and I went down classwise. I was raised in Alabama in the 1950s. There were 50 Jewish families in town, none but ours with European parents. It's been amazing making connections with other first-generation Americans of different races and discovering some incredible similarities in our experiences. My husband wrote a song that has this line, "The beautiful words your mother spoke, other people treat as a joke," and I cry every time I hear it.

I was very aware of racism and anti-Semitism, and the huge class dynamics in the south. My ride to school passed mansions with columns, maids and gardeners, and houses on blocks of cement falling apart. The mystery of my childhood was bearing witness with an outsider's eye to huge differences, the constellation of anti-Semitism, racism and class.

In 5th grade I had a friend whose father I found out later was in [the white supremacist group] Posse Comitus. One time she and I bought boxes of grape and cinnamon gumballs, and wanted to sell them for one cent more to make some money for more candy. The storekeeper called her dad before we got back to the house and he forbid us from selling the candy and lectured us on the international communist conspiracy. I went home and said, "I think that's capitalism, not communism." There was this learning that if they (white folks) did it, it was the American way, but if I did it, it was a Jewish conspiracy.

— Ahbi Vernon

I'm Jewish, and that's where it begins. My consciousness about justice comes from the Jewish traditions of asking questions and being aware. Tzedakah (which means justice and is the term used for how Jews give money to others) and tikkun olam (translated as healing the earth).

I grew up only among Jews, and don't remember being in a gentile's home until I was an adult. I grew up noticing injustices in who had money and who didn't. We were lower-middle-class and lived among many middle-class and upper-middle-class people, with the social standing of middle class but not the money. My mother grew up working class, my father lower-middle-class. If I wanted to go to camp, it had to be paid for from my babysitting money since my family could not afford to send me on their own. I got jobs at age 15 to buy my own clothes and pay for college, which was different than most of my friends. I always looked at what I didn't have, not what I did have.

— Laura Stern