Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Class v. Status

I wrote quite a bit this summer for my socio-behavioral-whatever course. I've used the term 'socioeconomic status' several times, as well as other PC terms. I finally had a breakthrough finishing my last assignment, which was a brainstorming project to facilitate the development of an intervention to reduce childhood obesity (how's that sound for socio-behavioral b.s.?)

Obesity is a result of our culture's class system: we (the huddled masses yearning to breathe free) wanted to be like the rich. The rich who had an abundance of food in general, and who were able to eat lots of different kinds of food. The rich who didn't need to spend 14 hours per day doing back breaking labor in a factory or on a farm. When presented with the opportunity to be less active, we took it; when presented with abundant food, we took that too.

After writing 'residue of a class system' for the paper, I've subsequently been thinking much on class as a factor in public health. Yes, people will assure you that class is important. But I think too many people look at race rather than class. Focusing on "race" lets rich white Americans think we're doing something good for the poor blacks we've been oppressing over the centuries and therefore lets us lie to ourselves that we're not oppressing anyone anymore.

I think that this whole "race card" does get played waaaaay too often. It keeps the poor disenfranchised, because the poor aren't one color or one race. "Race card" is also a euphemism for "relations with African-Americans" and is racist in and of itself by excluding the rest of the races.

It's a pity Society doesn't look at socioeconomic class: it is far, far, faaar more quantifiable than some chromosomal chromatograph of one's skin color.

I've decided that I'm going to ditch the use of "status" in regards to most of my writing. Screw it. It isn't socioeconomic 'status' - it's a class. It is an acknowledgment that we live in a class system just as much as the poor schmos in India - we just don't have the decency or self-awareness to acknowledge it.

A Class System is one where you are simply born into your lot in life. You're working class or Upper Class or whatever, because you're parents are. Or possibly because you managed to eek your way into that class (usually by marriage or falling out of a higher one). Being in a "status" sounds so ... transitory ... Like the boarding gate status for your flight. As if it's going to change, and you'll like the change. The term "status symbol" has an inherent meaning of "status of being rich/wealthy". When I was in high school, Calvin Klein Jeans were the 'status symbol' d'jour. No one mentioned that ratty worn-out hand-me-downs were a status symbol too. Because it was a status we didn't want to have.

Being at the bottom of the socioeconomic cesspool of life isn't a "status" - it's a way of life. Which you will in a probability never escape. See ya soon!

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