Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Social Class (part 1)

Whenever one deals with hunger, class is an extremely important aspect to keep in mind. In this case, I'm referring to class as the socioeconomic status of one group or another, which within the United States (whether we admit it or not) revolved around a hierarchy of sorts.

So far during my time, I've had the chance to work not only directly with the people that Lift Urban serves through the food pantry, but I've also had the chance to work on the development side of the organization.

During my limited time in the food pantry (and only one experience when it was open), I've had the change to work and interact with people who were working class, struggling to get on their feet, unemployed, or something else. It has been really eye opening to see that not all of those who receive emergency food from the pantry are homeless. Most, at least from my assumptions, just seemed like people struggling to make ends meet for the moment and had places to live. (But this is not universally the case but rather, a gross generalization I have thought about over the past day or so.)

So while the food pantry serves one side of the spectrum, the other side are the donors involved. Many of the donors are typically people who live in the Nob Hill area of northwest Portland and are on the more wealthy side of the class spectrum. The interesting part about this is just seeing the wide range of classes involved in a relatively small organization.

When I first started with Lift Urban Portland, I'm ashamed to admit that I rarely even thought about the influences of class on someone's life. There have been times in which class has been brought up and many of those times included my realization of the privilege that I hold.

A part of my own ignorance is due to the emphasis on "pulling oneself up by their bootstraps" ideology, which a whole other topic I'll be covering later. Another is simply my own ignorance built off of my privilege as someone who has always lived as middle class. I've never known what life is like without hot water or having to spend time figuring out how food would get on the table. I'm privileged that my parents have helped to build a life in which I'm able to go after a life I'm passionate about with comparatively few set backs.

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