Thinking about Classism

I came to sociocracy as a way to contribute to ending inequality, particularly classism. I was formerly a Board member, staff person, and trainer with Class Action.

This was our vision:
A world without classism
•Meets everyone’s basic needs
•Treats people from every background, race, class status, and rank with dignity and respect
•Supports the development of all people to their full potential
•Reduces the vast differences in income, wealth, and access to resources
•Ensures everyone has a voice in the decisions that affect them

And our underlying perspectives:

  1. Class injustice (classism) is not just about poverty and financial hardship; it is also about the unequal respect and opportunities given to people of different education levels, occupations, cultures, accents, ranks, types of housing, and neighborhoods.

  2. The ugly stereotypes and misrepresentations of working-class and poor people that are used to justify the policies that widen economic inequality also poison our own mission-driven organizations and keep our lives too class-segregated. Reducing classism means working on all those levels at once.

  3. Class identity intersects with race, gender, and other identities. It’s impossible to work effectively on classism without also tackling racism and all other ‘isms’. Just as anti-oppression workshops can inspire efforts to reduce race or gender injustice, classism workshops can spark efforts for economic justice and more class-inclusive organizations.

  4. Sharing personal class life stories is a crucial ingredient in freeing up people’s energy to work against class injustice. The ‘popular education’ method of experiential, interactive group learning works well to break the silence about the lived experience of class inequality. We approach each other’s class stories with curiosity and compassion, without blame, guilt, or shame.

  5. People of all classes have important roles to play in building a movement to end class injustice. Working-class and poor people can share their lived experience of class inequities and can take leadership in organizing directly affected people. Middle-class and elite people can speak up as allies, organize other privileged people, and share their own human stories that break the myth of middle-class superiority. Mixed-class and class-shifting people can be bridges across the class divide. Authentic human connection in a mixed-class group can be transformational for everyone.

I just saw this little 6-minute video “Understand Class Identity. Recognize Class Bias. Work to End Classism.” from Class Action and thought I’d share it here. Perhaps these words and video will stimulate explorations of class, classism and their relation to sociocracy.