Wealth and Privilege

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Understand and acknowledge the full scope of harm caused by racialized capitalism and wealth accumulation.

Classism and elitism are alive and well in Corporate America - MarketWatch

Wealth accumulation has its roots in stolen land, stolen labor, and stolen lives. Educate yourself, and other wealthy people, on how your personal class and money story is connected to historical events and policies. Ask for feedback for yourself, and when giving feedback to other privileged people, ground it in your belief in their ability to change.

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Where we donate money and time should back that up, too. Building relationships with people and organizations across class grounds us in the urgency of lives that are at stake, and moves us from the individual to the collective. Denial, minimization, and intellectualization deeply enable violence and exploitation. We can unlearn our numbness and recover our full range of human expression and emotion by taking a holistic approach to organizing that includes body practices like meditation, somatics, yoga, martial arts, and more.

A holistic approach to organizing also means engaging people on all levels, from analysis to emotional connection to taking action. Ask class-privileged and wealthy people to join and give unrestricted money to organizations led by the poor and working class, lobby their representatives, and take direct action in the streets. I will never believe that. Andrea Pien, 32, is a Resource Generation member and a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who accumulated significant wealth in the United States.

Many describe feeling guilt or shame about their privilege, which often leads them to hide it. One college student, a woman of color, told me that she worried what other campus activists might think of her. These progressive children of privilege told me they study the history of racial capitalism in the United States and discuss the ways traditional philanthropy tends to keep powerful people at the top. They also spend a fair amount of time talking about their money. Should they give it all away? How much is it ethical to spend on themselves or others?

How does money shape friendships and relationships? I have faced skepticism from other sociologists when discussing this research.

He calls Medicare for All “far too extreme,” but he is the real extremist.

I understand this view. There is certainly a risk — of which many of them are aware — that all this conversation will just devolve into navel-gazing, an expression of privilege rather than a challenge to it. It is hard for individual action to make a dent in an ironclad social structure. And it is impossible, as they know, to shed the class privilege rooted in education and family socialization, even if they give away every penny. But like Abigail Disney, these young people are challenging fundamental cultural understandings of who deserves what.

And they are breaking the social taboo against talking about money — a taboo that allows radical inequality to fade into the background. Wealthy people are more likely to convince other wealthy people that the system is unfair.

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Attacks show even prominent members of the community can fall prey to radicalisation