Class. The word that must go unspoken in America.
CU was my first mean-spirited head-first dunk in the toilet of American class difference. While my Mom was tearfully hugging a friend from Bible Study over the gift of $50 to buy groceries when work was slow, the parents of many of the other students on my floor at Will Vill were pondering the relative merits of BMW over Mercedes. If I wanted spending money, it meant working Friday and Saturday nights at a pizza place. I would walk or take the bus at 6:30 on Friday, the others on my floor would get into their Audis and spend hundreds of dollars at bars or on drugs. It was a tiny fraction of the disposable money they were given. I learned how to hunt, not how to play golf. But in my life I was very fortunate; I got to see a species that is quite endangered. My Dad became upwardly mobile. We went from upper-lower class to upper-middle class over the course of 10 years.
The days of being yelled at for outgrowing my shoes too fast were gone, replaced by musicals downtown and family vacations. But even with these blessings, CU still offered me many occasions to feel poor. A friend with no job who graduated in December recently remarked that he went shirt-shopping at Nordstom's. He didn't understand why I thought that was so weird. When I worked at Starbucks, I had to eat shit from little princesses who's handbags were worth more than a month of my wages. It left me angry. Behind my eyes, everyday, it was a cold, Russian October in 1917. The czarists must die.
The explosive anger I feel about class in the United States in some ways is out of place. My family stayed together. Everything is fine. I have a safety net of sorts. But still, sometimes... You buy your fucking t-shirts at Nordstrom's?...
it creeps out. The undeservedness and the dishonesty of hereditary wealth make my fists clench, feel heavy. You shouldn't have a $2000 handbag, and someone should take it from you by force.
Angry for the way I felt different, angry for the indignities my family had to suffer, and more angry still for the fact that a lot of people have it a lot worse. I am going to grad school, afterword, I should make a pretty good living. My dad saved my family from the fate he grew up with. But most people won't escape.
I become red-eyed over the central, stupid lie of the children of the upper class: "It's earned". I plan to be rich. It may not happen. But I am livid that many others won't even have the chance to try.
It is with this in mind that I have greatly enjoyed the excellent and courageous look the New York Times
is giving class in the U.S. I hope this will begin to open debate, and honesty.
-Miguel Sanchez 13:27 EST |