The Economista: Intersectionality & Class

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Welcome to The Economista! My name is Andy Pham and I will be giving you weekly tips and tricks on how to budget, save money, and have inexpensive fun at Brown!

Hello readers! This week, I want to take sometime to talk about something other than money saving tips at Brown. Particularly, I wanted to talk about the issue of classism – which apparently is not recognized as a word by this text document. This appropriately leads into why I want to discuss this issue today: I think that it is under-discussed, and sometimes unrecognized as an issue.

I can’t speak for you, but all throughout my life I have been told the same basic thing in regards to careers: “Do what you love and work will feel like fun.” This sentence has been a popular discussion catalyst for my low-income friends and me, this past week.  We talked about how we are told this, about how we CAN achieve THE American Dream, from a young age. We talked about how we are primed by teachers, coaches, and other adult models in our lives, but then we go home and are told something else. This is a an internal struggle that I and some other low-income students at Brown feel.

How do you go about doing what you love when what you love may not be “the most secure and stable source of income”? How do you navigate it when you are then guilted by peers about your choices? How do you stay true to you while also striving for a better life?

For some lucky people, what you love and what makes money intersect. In a sense, I am partially lucky in this way. At the same time, I know that I need to do more than what I plan in order to feel completely happy and satisfied. However, I also know that if I do continue on the path I am on that I may have to ignore and put aside these other important passions.

If I follow my dreams, I am a traitor to my family. If I blindly follow the path of money, I am a traitor to myself.

This is just one often unspoken struggle that I feel. This is just one topic that nobody talks about as they spread this “follow your dreams” rhetoric. This is just one experience of a fellow low-income student.

Add this to other identities you may hold, and things become more complicated. Yet, I find that class is often ignored in larger discussion. At Brown, we so often talk about intersectionality but we so often do not include class into this discussion. This is just my own and my friends’ experiences. It may not be representative of the larger population.

However, as people that are involved in on campus activism, my friends and I were taken aback by our recent discovery of how little class is talked about. Even within some groups that were made for low-income and first-gen students to come together, we found that class and money is still not always talked about.

We rightfully look at how gender interacts with race. We rightfully attempt to dismantle white feminist and white queer ideologies in order to be intersectional, in order to address the unique issues that come along with the many facets of one’s identity.

Where is class? Where is the discussion of the simple ability to have enough to be at Brown? Where is the discussion of how some students wouldn’t be here without scholarships, that they would lose this space and opportunity by way of economics?

This is a larger discussion that I cannot do justice in a simple blog post. However, I did just want to open up this discussion and present some ideas. There is a lot more that I omitted just for the sake of not ranting.

On that note, I do want to clarify that I love Brown. This school gives me the space to discuss a large variety of topics that I used to just keep in. Above all, the sense of community among students at this school is something I feel lucky to have. There are so many different groups on this campus that feel more like families to me. Even though I think we can work together to open up more discussions, I could not imagine being at Brown without these communities.

If you have any questions about any other specific parts of my experience as low-income then please do not hesitate to email me (email listed below). Even if you maybe just want to talk, or if something I said resonated with you, please feel free!

Thank you for reading! Until next time (when I transition back into saving money at Brown).

Andy

I am open to any and all ideas, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have! If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments you can e-mail me at andy_pham@brown.edu . Thanks!

 

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