Poverty and Class Privilege.

The thing about class privilege is that it’s a significantly easy thing to not notice if you have it. Noticing it though can be just as easy – this privilege means you can have extra guacamole on your burrito without thinking about the cost, you don’t have to worry about having enough for rent each month, you can have a couple of drinks at happy hour without checking your bank balance or breaking your budget, you easily can fix your car if something happens. Carmen Rios wrote about even more behaviors that come along with class privilege, including being able to call in sick for work or being well rested.

There is so much more about living in poverty and being poor than those with class privilege might understand. There are plenty of things that people living in poverty think or worry about that people with wealth don’t – another thing that Carmen Rios wrote about. If you have class privilege, there’s so much that you don’t have to worry about in regards to finances that people in poverty do – like the unexpected cost of emergencies or getting to and from work (something which can be difficult even without the unpredictability of low wage jobs).

There are so many assumptions and lies that exist around poverty – like those experiencing poverty are there because they waste their money (not true), that people in poverty are unemployed or refuse to work, or that education will bring people out of poverty. Education is often difficult to access- with some students even experiencing homeless while studying. Jasper Drury wrote about some of these assumptions, including the myth that working hard means power (the bootstrap myth):

All those who are in positions of power had some kind of privilege (opportunistic or otherwise) which caused them to have power. If you have power, you may have worked hard, but you are not the only person who works hard. You’re just one of the few who got power out of it.

We need to be challenging the ways we as ones with privilege understand and think about poverty. And we need to be challenging our own class privilege, fight back against systemic poverty, and support those struggling to make ends meet (including not blaming them for being there). There are resources and ways for people to not experience or live in poverty – with 24 empty houses for every homeless person in the US (and 11 million empty homes in Europe) , good food being thrown out because it wasn’t sold or eaten, work to be done, there are ways we can actually support our whole communities.


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