Holly Fetter, an undergraduate student at Stanford and praxis group leader, originally wrote this piece in STATIC, a site for Stanford activists to connect and create.
Holly writes of her piece: “This piece was written when I was first coming into my class identity and accompanying consciousness. Though my ideas and actions around class have shifted in the past year, it still feels important to share this with others. This particular post catalyzed the development of an RG Praxis Group and several class privilege workshops and cross-class discussions at Stanford University. If you’re interested in bringing RG to your campus or community, sharing your personal experience is a great way to start.”
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. (more…)