Posted: January 4th, 2017
Income and wages are measurable indicators of how prosperity is distributed amongst social class. Wealth, often determined by an individual’s net worth (assets minus liabilities), is another indicator that is used to determine class. Wealth for working class families is measured by their cars, savings, and home. As people improve their social and economic standing, wealth may include things like stocks and bonds, commercial real estate, and expensive jewelry.
Wealth is an important indicator because it spans past, present, and future generations. For example, compare the children of parents who can save money and leave an inheritance with children of parents who economically struggle and have few assets to pass on to the next generation. Historically, the creation and accumulation of wealth provides evidence of the legacy of racism, sexism, and discrimination and their role in determining class. Black/African Americans, women, and Hispanic/Latinos have historically been denied the means to obtain assets and grow wealth. Consider the impact of chronic marginalization on the Black/African American community’s ability to build wealth. While the income gaps between various ethnic groups may be decreasing, the gap between assets remains wide. Data from the Pew Research center show that the median wealth of Caucasian households is 20 times that of Black/African American households and 18 times that of Hispanic/Latinos households in the U.S. (Pew Research Center, 2011).
Class extends beyond wealth and other financial indicators. Class also includes details like the amount of free time you enjoy (because you are not working three jobs to make ends meet) or feeling like there is a “right” way to speak and act in order to be heard. For this Discussion, analyze how classism has impacted your life.
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