In the diversity class I took this last semester, we talked about many different races and the oppression and/or privilege they experienced…as can probably be inferred from the name of the class. But, one topic that I found especially interesting was the lecture on economic oppression. While race is the topic that many people focus on when they talk about diversity and oppression, the other types of oppression don’t get much air time. Now, I don’t want to downplay oppression based on race as this is still an area that needs huge improvement, but why do we never talk about the other types? Like I’m sure many others, I was raised in a community that had the bootstrap mindset, where people living in poverty or those experiencing economic hardships just needed to pull up their bootstraps and work hard. If you were having problems with money, you must just be lazy, hence why the societal reasons behind the economic gap were never discussed. However, once I began working in social services, the economic disparities in our society became very apparent to me, but I was unsure of how these huge gaps came to be and why it was so hard to close them. These causes become much more clear to me after taking this course. After reading many articles about how people in poverty continue to become poorer and poorer with each generation and the inverse with privilege..becoming more and more privileged or wealthy with each generation and doing much self-reflection about my own upbringing, it became more clear as to why there are huge wealth gaps and why they are so difficult to narrow. One exercise we completed in class really laid out all of these causes. I encourage you to take it yourself. I’ll post the answers at the bottom, so don’t scroll too far down.
Now that you’ve hopefully taken the quiz and haven’t scrolled too far down, here are the answers to check yourself..prepare to be at least a little shocked:
1) E. 29th place
2) B. In the top 5
3) D. Two and a half times as much
4) E. below 25 (lowest smoking rates)
5) C. 15 years
6) E. Widened by 60%
7) D. 4 times as many
8) E. 1.7 acres
9) E. $1.1 trillion
10) E. All of the above
11) C. whether or not you are wealthy
12) D. 7 times
13) A. Recent Latino immigrants
14) C. sickle cell anemia
15) A. Social reforms (like wage and labor laws, housing codes, etc.) and increased prosperity
16) A. True
17) B. They are more egalitarian
18) D. 21.9%
19) A. None
20) E. 200 hours more
21) A. None
22) E. 90% combined
While I feel like I knew some of the answers to these questions..or had a hunch..I still felt pretty shocked when my professor began reading the answers to us. After shock, I began to feel angry about how extreme the answers were, then a little disappointed at how bad things are in the US.
Here are some questions, too, that came to mind:
Why are we not doing anything to fix the economic gap? If we are doing something, why is it not working?
Why has the wealth gap continued to widen?
Why is the US so far behind from other industrialized nations?
Feel free to discuss these with me in the comments or tell me your thoughts, emotions, or questions that came to mind as you read the answers. This is something that needs to have more discussion and obviously huge change.