Classism: How it plays out

First of all, I am going to define the word classism. Classism is the institutional, cultural, and individual set of practices and beliefs that value people differently based on their socio-economic class, privileging people who are wealthy and targetting people who are poor or working class.

Our society gives power to those who are wealthy, for 1%, yes ONE PERCENT of the U.S population holds 48% of the wealth. Crazy right? That means the majority of us, 80% to be exact, hold only 6% of the U.S wealth. Talk about an uneven distribution of wealth.

During the summer, I went to a camp called CLI, Community Leadership Institute. It focused on issues of oppression and social justice. One thing we talked about, was classism, and how we see it play out. This is what we came up with :

How classism plays out at school

  • The cliques. We noticed that often times wealthier students stick together, building a wall between the upper and lower class students.
  • The extra cirricular activities, which are often times expensive.
  • College prep tend to have more minorities. (racism as well as classism).
  • Teachers make assumptions about lower class people sometimes, and expect more from students of higher class.

How classism plays out in the community

  • People of higher class “showing off” their cars.
  • Some sales people make assumptions about people they perceive as lower class and assume that they won’t buy anything.
  • If a sales person assumes you are lower class, they suspect you of stealing more
  • Sales people tend to be friendlier towards people they perceive to be wealthy, because they are more likely to purchase something.

There are literally thousands of ways classism plays out, but these are just a few examples we came up with. What can you do to stop classism in your community?

  • Try to organize events that are free!
  • Don’t ask people questions about how much money they have.
  • Try to set up financial aide in schools for students who can’t afford books, field trips, prom, etc.
  • Try your best to see people for who they are, not the money they have.
  • Be friends with people of all socio-economic classes, and encourage your friends to do the same.

If you have any examples of how YOU see classism play out, e-mail me or comment below! I would love to hear what you have to say (:

This is an example of unequal wealth distribution! Photo from: