Classism is the systematic oppression of poor people and people who work for wages by those who have access to control of the necessary resources by which other people make their living. (Warnock and Briggs, 2015) Classism is amazing because it seems so necessary for a capitalistic society to function. After all, who is going to say, �Good afternoon, would you like fries with your order?� Certainly not the man who wears a three-piece suit while working in a Wall Street office. Who is going to keep food stocked in the supermarkets and keep the city buses running? Until there are robots to fulfill all of the low-wage jobs, there will always be people filling the low-income pockets of society. Although classism may seem justifiable, it is a cruel system with a means to keep its victims under a glass ceiling.
In the education system, lower-class children may be viewed by the teachers as unintelligent and incapable of learning. Similarly, racism allows for people of color to be treated the same way in the school system. On the contrary, the children of politicians and doctors are encouraged to apply for universities where they will be groomed for high paying careers (Green, 1995, p.73). Classism and racism are similar because each type of discrimination operates to keep people beneath the wealthy in so many ways. The education system plays a huge role in keeping the system in place.
On the other hand, the difference between classism and racism is surprising in that classism may be worse. For example, if a Black family has plenty of money they can secure a high-quality education for their children. Unlike several decades ago, a black family can climb the ladder to financial freedom even if it means they have to work a little harder than their white counterparts. Having plenty of money can help avoid being subject to racist practices in education. Wealthy Black parents can send their kids to expensive schools.
Classism helps maintain the rich people isolated (by income) from the poor and middle class. One way of doing this is through the education system. Children have an educational experience that is based on their economic status and the community in which they live. The experience is somewhat synonymous to what happened when racism reared its wicked wand in the school system. On the other hand, there are a few differences worth mentioning between classism and racism in education.
For people of color (such as African American and Hispanics) classism is an inevitable outer layer of a pungent onion called racism. In other words, being that their suppression is based upon race, by default they would remain economically disenfranchised as well. Since classism and racism overlap for people of color, they are an �intimately interrelated phenomena.�(Klevin, 2009) Classism dictates that attending excellently performing schools requires being able to live among prime real estate. Racism confines all people of color to designated areas. The wealthy neighborhoods have the best schools boasting high student achievement. Unlike the rich White students, the poor students may be encouraged to attend a secondary trade school more so than a school offering formal degrees (Green, 1995, p.73). In addition, poor children (including mostly Black and Hispanic children) are expected to pass the same standardized tests as their rich, White counterparts. When they inevitably produce lower scores, they are used as a means to negatively label the children as low achievers.
There is a subtle difference between classism and racism in education. Society would be more accepting of a Poor White child trying to climb the ladder of success. It is easier to gain access to scholarships, and extracurricular activities when a student doesn�t have to worry about racial discrimination. A rich Black family can avoid the pain of classism. In other words, being a poor person of color equates to having two burdens to bear instead of just one.
- Anthon Green,�P. (1995). Evolutionary Insights Into Problems of Sexism, Classism & Racism, Including Prospects for their Elimination. Race, Gender & Class, 2(2), 65-83. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41675379
- Klevin,�T. (2009). Systemic Classism, Systemic Racism: Are Social and Racial Justice Achievable in the United States? Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, 8(2), 1-48. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1405927
- Warnock,�D., & Briggs,�L. (2015). Confronting Classism | SOA Watch: Close the School of the Americas. Retrieved from http://soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=532