necessarily uncomfortable reading

I highly recommend it

I highly recommend it

My father has always been interested in economics/money/business issues, and being a black man, has of course dealt with those issues as they intersect with race.  So a couple months ago, when I saw that Latoya was reading a book called The Color of Wealth: the story behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, I knew it’d be something he should read.  So I recommended it, and he bought it, read it, and loved it.  I wanted to read it, too, and by the time he was done with it – he definitely wanted me to read it.

So I started the book last month.  It’s only 291 pages, so I could get through that fairly quickly – except for the subject matter.

The book begins with an overview:  an introduction to the premise of the book, why it is important to look at the racial wealth divide in this country with a more critical gaze, and spotlights how ignorant most of us are about the facts behind the current state of US wealth.  I could totally get down with this.  I learned a lot, and got to laugh a little.

I was actually on a plane [with my mom] at the time, and I kept stopping to show her things, because it was so interesting.

Then I began to read chapter 2: Land Rich, Dirt Poor: Challenges to Asset Building in Native America. A few pages later I got to the section on colonization and treaty making, and I got tears in my eyes.  I tried to keep going, but I couldn’t.

I put the book down and didn’t pick it up again for a month.

Dad kept asking me how things were going with the book, I kept telling him that I hadn’t really looked at it in a while.  I told him how upset I was when reading about the atrocities of the US government against Native Americans.  This one chapter was bringing out a lot of uncomfortable feelings for me.

Finally, last week, I picked up the book again.  Made a little headway, and put it back down – still not done with chapter 2.  This morning, I told myself to just read it and get through it…and to write about why it was so hard to do.

Continue reading

that whole bootstraps thing

So there’s this dude.  He grad’s from college and decides he’s gonna get himself a book deal.  How, you say?

By “abdicating” his middle-class status and “starting over” in Charleston, SC.  He lived in a shelter for a time, got a job as a mover [day-laborer], and started working his way out of the (artificial) hole he’d put himself in.

He was gonna do it for a year, and see if he could save $2,500 and get an apartment.  10 months in, he had a truck, and apartment, and $5k.  He had to quit, then, cuz of a family thing.  But it was a success, anyway, all because of his attitude.

[needless to say, he’s white]

And here we go again.  Some white guy fakes a hard lot in life, gets out of it ok, and says ‘See? I told you it could be done!’  I’m sure he’ll get lots of publicity, and I know tons of white people who will latch on to the message like the gospel truth [a few black people, too].   Yeah, all it takes is a good attitude, some hard work, and some self-discipline.  Your only obstacle in life is yourself.

Whatever.  If you’ve met the real world, you know that privilege makes a hell of a lot of difference.  Meanwhile, a few other people are talking about this guy too.  [h/t Racialicious]

Class and Privilege – Arguments, Qualifiers, Ownership

Via My Private Casbah. Though I originally swiped it from a friend and former classmate on LJ.Those that were true when I was in college [now a full ten years ago ::shudder::] are bold. Some things are kind of hard to answer because I never went to high school. Things that seem like they might be true if you equate college to high school, are italicized. But of course, there are still qualifiers, as this list couldn’t possibly cover every individual’s family situation.

The original intent of the exercise was to note privilege through the physical act of taking a step forward for each true item on the list. Actual differences in location demonstrated clear differences between classmates. Discussion of the exercise and its emotional impact, in addition to all others, followed the exercise.

I will discuss my own qualifiers, arguments and ownership after the list. Continue reading