Affluent people should not give money-management advice without acknowledging class privilege.

In Why You Pay for Shit Twice in the Hood., Renina of New Model Minority writes:

How do people pay for shit twice in the hood. Poverty is lucrative. People who own businesses in the hood make money charging incredible prices for the day to day things needed to survive.

The first example that comes to mind is a New York times article where Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the “ghetto tax” and how being poor is expensive. She writes,

  • “Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts..”
  • .”..low-income car buyers…pay more for car loans than more affluent buyers.”
  • “Low-income drivers pay more for car insurance.”
  • “They are more likely to buy their furniture and appliances through pricey rent-to-own businesses.”
  • “They are less likely to have access to large supermarkets and hence to rely on the far more expensive…convenient stores.”

When you add that all up, you really get a sense of how when you live in the hood you pay more for services and products, just because you live in the hood.

The example of how poverty is expensive is Rafi and Dallas’ video Check Mate. Checkmate analyzes why people in the hood use check cashing places rather than banks, why there are arguably no banks in the hood and how check cashing spots,  pawn shops and gold chain shops operate to seperate the people who don’t have a lot of money from the little bit of bread that they do have.

In Spending, Priorities, and Class Divides, s.e. smith of this ain’t livin’ writes:

Financial planning seems like a quaint luxury to a lot of people because, functionally, it is. It should not be, but it is, and refusing to talk about this fact means that conversations about money, concentration of wealth, fighting your way to get ahead in this culture, end up fundamentally skirting over a pretty critical issue. If you start a financial planning discussion with the ground assumption that everyone has money to spare and can trim the budget to make more, you’re pretty much telling a big chunk of your readership to just not even bother.

In Are You Better Off Buying $200 Shoes?, Gwen Sharp of Sociological Images writes:

Further, advice such as that given here present this as simply a matter of being economically smart, rather than as a class issue: unless you’re looking for the type of trendy shoes that you’ll only want to wear briefly anyway, you shouldn’t waste your time at H&M.  Similarly, in grad school I was once told I was “dumb” to rent rather than buy a house, in a town where they cost $150,000+. In both cases, the opportunities provided by economic advantage are perceived as economic common sense, obvious choices for anyone who is smart and has decent taste. Combined with the invisibility of people who can’t afford to spend that much money, accepting these class assumptions allows us to gaze disdainfully at people in “cheap” shoes, confident that they, too, are simply “cheap.”

From Microaggressions:

  • Upper-class activist:: Why don’t you have a cell phone? That’s ridiculous!
  • Me:: I come from a poor family.
  • Upper-class activist:: I guess some people just choose to spend their resources differently.
  • Me:: No, I can’t afford one.
  • Upper-class activist:: You just don’t spend your money well enough.
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Police threatened to charge aboriginal beating victim if he pressed charges.

In February, two security guards in Toronto allegedly beat an aboriginal man, sending him to the hospital with three broken ribs and a punctured lung. The security guards said, “You natives are nothing but trouble,” and said that natives were drunks and would never amount to anything.

When the victim, Cliff Hussin, wanted to lay criminal charges against the two security guards, the police told him that if he charged the security guards, the police would charge him as well. Hussin is on probation and out on bail from previous assault charges. As Hussin fears that he may land back in jail, he will likely not press charges against his assaulters. Read the rest of this entry »

Stuff POC do: restrain ourselves

When I checked Stuff White People Do and saw a post originally titled, “Stuff White People Do: Laugh at Asian English”, I felt racism fatigue, and responded with a half-hearted and uninspired, “I am offended at your post,” followed with a description. I fully expected to be accused of looking for racism again by some commenter in a comment that closely followed mine, which has become almost a tradition at Stuff White People Do. (Sometimes this commenter is Macon D himself.)

Unsurprisingly, I was accused of “looking for something to pounce on Macon for” by a commenter named “haley” half an hour later. Surprisingly, however, the normally-defensive Macon D took my complaint seriously and tried to think of alternative ways of phrasing the title. In the end, Macon D actually took my suggestion seriously and changed the post’s title to “Stuff White People Do: Laugh at “Engrish”.”*

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but perhaps my uncharacteristic comment, which left me vulnerable to the accusation of oversensitivity, didn’t trigger a defensive reaction on the part of Macon D.

Normally, I almost never criticize racism with “I am offended” or “I take offense”, because when racism is framed as “something that offends people”, then accusations of racism are portrayed as “political correctness” catering to the hypersensitivities of minorities who supposedly always force the majority to accommodate them. Even when I almost never use the terms “offense”, “offended”, or “offensive”, people have told me that I was oversensitive about racism, that I need to grow up, that I cannot always break down and cry every time someone is not sensitive to my feelings.

The people who say these things appear to think that racism occurs rarely, and that when a non-white person complains about allegedly “trivial” instances of racism, it means that she is like a young child who hasn’t yet learned that not everyone in the world is obligated to be nice to her. In reality, however, I have experienced racial microaggressions since childhood, and I am well aware that the world is not a safe space for people of colour with respect to race. I point out racism not because I’m noticing it for the first time, but because I want to bring it to the attention of others who have grown up shielded from the daily realities that people of colour have to endure. I point out racism because I want to point out injustice, not because I am some selfish oversensitive child who wants the world to revolve around me and my feelings.

Read the rest of this entry »