Tag Archives: class

On When Things Hit Close to Home

by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12

When I was an undergraduate I had several people tell me that I should just pretend that my family wasn’t poor, that I hadn’t gone to a bad school, that I didn’t grow up in a rough neighborhood, and that I hadn’t been abused. I was supposed to pass, which should have been even easier for me because I was white. I was deeply offended by this, I am not ashamed of where I come from, I have no reason to be. I went to Stanford, what do I have to apologize for? I am proud of my working class roots, because even though it was difficult it made me stronger, a better human being, a better teacher. I also found this advice to be terribly impractical. For one thing, I had an accent, and for another I could only reference what I knew and having never seen rich people before Stanford I really only had one truth to talk about. I couldn’t lie about my mom when it was visibly clear to everyone that she had had me as a teenager. I couldn’t make up stories to hide the fact that my summers were spent looking after my brothers and sisters and reading books. There were things I obviously didn’t know about, foods I had never seen, cultural references I didn’t get, and locations I had never heard of. I developed some close relationships with people more privileged than I was so that I would always have someone to call when I needed something explained to me, which was quite often.

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FLIP Your Perspective Week Catalyzes Conversation About Class

by Destiny Lopez, ’16

FYPWeek2013“FYP Week was my favorite week on campus all year! More please!”

“It began on this traditionally tricky, sticky topic in an open, welcoming manner.”

These were some of the many positive responses to the second annual “FLIP Your Perspective Week.” For the second year in a row, Stanford’s First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) hosted “FLIP Your Perspective Week,” a week’s worth of events aimed at fostering cross-class conversation and empowering the first-generation, low-income community and its allies. FLIP Your Perspective week took place from April 8th to April 12th  and consisted of eight different events, each addressing different topics related to class. FLIP partnered with various student organizations to host a variety of unique events. Some notable events were “Race and Class at Stanford, Challenging Classism: A Workshop for Allies,” and “Classing the Line” (based on the “Crossing the Line” activity implemented in many Stanford residences). “FLIP Your Perspective Week” was well-attended by a diverse group of students: first-generation students, low-income students, allies, grads, undergrads, professors, admissions officers, and other special guests. The attendees’ feedback* was overwhelmingly positive. Continue reading

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Class Confessions on Campus

by the FLIP Leadership Core

reading back

The Stanford First Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) recently hosted a workshop called “Class Confessions” where students of all class backgrounds were invited to discuss our socioeconomic status secrets and share ideas for how to move toward a more honest and inclusive campus community. Over 50 students showed up, eager to engage in Stanford’s first cross-class discussion space.

Before the event, we asked people to submit their “Class Confessions,” or instances in which they had covered their class identities. We displayed these anonymous revelations at our workshop, where attendees could read and reflect on their peers’ class secrets. Here is a sampling of the more than 80 confessions, which were split evenly between students who identified as having class privilege, and those who did not:

  • When I was abroad, I pretended to be extremely sick because I wanted people to stop asking me why I couldn’t buy a plane ticket to explore nearby countries during a long weekend.
  • I use my knowledge about financial aid to pretend that I receive it when talking to friends and acquaintances.
  • I bought a smartphone and pay for the much more expensive plan to fit in with the rest of my friends whose parents pay their phone bills. Continue reading
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10 Signs That Classism Exists

by Danny McKay, ’14

In CSRE 26SI, a student-led course about allyship, students were asked to come up with 10 pieces of evidence to prove that certain prejudices exist. Here are Danny’s 10 signs that classism exists:

1. I recently heard someone I know call someone else a “pleb.”

2. Andrew Mitchell, former Chief of the UK Conservative Party, resigned after calling a policeman a pleb.

3. The average income of the richest 10% of the world’s population is about 9 times that of the poorest 10%.

4. The cost of the Invasion/Occupation of Iraq (i.e., money, lives) falls on the poor, while the rich (i.e., CEOs, politicians) benefit.

5. During Hurricane Katrina, the rich were evacuated, while the poor stayed and suffered. Continue reading

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Our Challenge

by K. Blaqk, ’14


The title of this piece is “Our Challenge.” Over fall quarter I discovered the “Nu Rainbow,” which replaces the traditional ROYGBIV spectrum with one representing the variety of colors  of human beings. This move felt especially important to me, as I was starting to see the urgency in queer politics taking on an explicitly anti-racist agenda as well. Lumped into queer issues and racism are also structural class inequality, problems of imperialism and militarism. So, “Our Challenge” is first to build a coalition of marginalized and oppressed peoples and then to channel that organization into a form of resistance and way of remaking the world around us. Continue reading

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STEMarginalized (or Why I’ll Never Take Another Class Outside the Humanities)

by anonymous, ’14

My mother likes to tell the story of how I applied for Stanford as a hardcore biology major with a concentration in genetic engineering, then called her after one quarter to come out as a drama major. For perspective, I’d never been involved in theater in any shape or form before college. For her, this makes an amusing anecdote about the liberalizing/artsy big blue blob that is California. For me, it’s a sobering reminder of just how alienated I felt in the STEM courses I’ve taken at Stanford.

It’s not that the material is too difficult or uninteresting—I was actually really engaged with my biology, physics, and calculus courses in high school, and looked forward to working in labs and doing research when I “grew up.” My shift from STEM is rather due to the different approaches to discussing (or not) marginalized peoples in the humanities and sciences. Whereas most of my Theater and Performance Studies professors (and especially my Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity professors) regularly use examples and materials that validate and explore the experiences of people who aren’t at the top of the privilege food chain, my STEM professors often make me feel angry, invalidated, and anxious. In TAPS and CSRE courses, I can speak to and learn about the lived experiences of people like me (and unlike me!). In STEM courses, data which appear to be objective often show that marginalized groups are inferior to dominant groups, without including a discussion of the systematic challenges that can produce those data. Put another way, we don’t discuss confounders that happened before we began our study.

Let me give you an example from a popular statistics course at Stanford. Continue reading

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Equality is not Justice

by members of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL)

We are the group of students responsible for the “equality is not justice” flyers last week. Because we are interested in both raising awareness and increasing understanding, we collaborated on a brief summary of each topic listed on the posters.

This article is meant to be shared! However, it is not meant to be the last word on any of the topics below: our foremost goal is to encourage discussion within the Stanford community.

Interested in continuing the conversation? Please consider submitting your ideas to STATIC!

Fear is not governance
Here, we are referring to the illusion that control is gained through fear or fear tactics and, furthermore, that legitimate government rule can be claimed when the majority of the population lives in a state of fear. Moreover, we are addressing the fact that fear is a tactic utilized by the United States, whether conscious or unconscious. Consider, for example, the reaction you have when you see a police officer. Are you afraid or comforted? Why? Also consider jails, which – though they seem to promise safety – are also an implicit threat by the state.

Apathy is not neutral
When we say that apathy is not neutral, we mean that – in many cases – apathy is a privilege. When we choose not to educate ourselves or to do nothing, it is with the knowledge that our lives will not be adversely affected – and not everybody is in such a position.
Another implication of apathy is the fact that, when there is apathy on the part of the state, entire groups of people may suffer. When legislators pay less attention to the well-being of groups such as trans* people of color, for example, this does not represent a simple oversight: it reflects a lack of commitment to the survival of a group that is consistently persecuted in this country.

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The Trouble with Environmentalism

by Christina Ospina, ’12

Being “green” is one of the sexiest trends that has arisen in the past several years, made popular largely by increasing concerns over Climate Change.  People want to buy clothes made from organic cotton, use biodegradable laundry detergent, eat free-range chicken, invest in solar energy, and protest to save polar bears.  But we must ask: who are the people behind this movement?  Realistically, someone struggling to pay rent might not feel compelled to invest in solar power to avoid using electricity generated from coal-fired plants.  Today, the American environmentalist movement’s biggest challenge isn’t Climate Change, it isn’t over-fishing, it’s not rainforest degradation, and it’s not it industrialized agriculture; the main obstacle the environmentalism faces is transforming into a movement for all socio-economic levels.  Environmentalism shouldn’t be a movement for the privileged, it should be integrated in all levels and all communities that comprise the American population.

Historically, lower classes and minorities have been left out or overlooked in American environmental and conservation movements.  Just look back at the emergence of conservation with the Romantic movement in the mid 1800s, with influential figures such as Roosevelt,  Muir and Thoreau, who evoked imagery of the sublime in their writing and praised the powerful beauty of wilderness. Continue reading

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On Class

by Holly Fetter, ’13

As soon as the word “privilege” entered my vocabulary, I found myself unpacking an inundation of knapsacks filled with the stuff, frantically trying to unlearn 16 years of internalized racism, ableism, classism… My white identity was the easiest to grapple with because it was the most visible. So I spent (and am still spending) years reading, talking, and writing about whiteness so that I could begin to feel more comfortable living with the tension of being white in the United States.

But class was a different story. I didn’t want to even acknowledge my class identity because it made me feel guilty and ashamed. I worried about the (usually correct) assumptions that wealth carried with it, as well as how it might undermine my credibility as a budding activist. In high school, I avoided the topic altogether, choosing to make friends with other affluent kids because it felt a lot simpler. Class was apparent there – we knew what kind of cars our classmates’ had (or didn’t have), what their houses were like, and what their parents’ jobs were.

At Stanford, however, my class identity was a lot easier to hide. Suddenly, I was 1,700 miles away from my family, in a place where I magically became a “student” – a socioeconomic status that connoted egalitarianism and bean and cheese burritos at Treehouse. It’s easy for some people to hide behind this false class identity, especially students with wealth. We don’t need to confront class if we don’t want to. Our identity as “students” helps us hide our economic privilege, but it doesn’t erase it. And often, our class status doesn’t change much between The Farm and home.

But I’ve decided to come out of the class closet, and acknowledge my privilege and complicity as a part of the 1%. Continue reading

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