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Have vs. Have-nots

Before I get into to today’s post here’s a little bit of what’s going on in my world.

Right now I’m finishing up my very last class of my Master’s program and the last day is Thursday, which is probably the next time I will post. I hope you will bear with me until then. I have a 12-page paper, a 250-page book to read, a book review to write and a video project to edit all due by Thursday.

In real life outside of academia, my lease ends August 1st, I have no job, no prospects for a job, have no idea what state I’m moving to and everybody wants to know what I’m gonna do with my life. Journalism is a unique industry that requires a tremendous amount of networking, writing, gaining clips, building an online portfolio and networking some more, all before even being considered for hire.

With that said I’ve seen a great deal of progress being made; and I am uber excited about my future. Yesterday my second article was published on Essence.com “Debunking the Golddigger Myth”, I’m in the works of redesigning my site and working on some other projects.  The sky is the limit!

 

This Saturday has been uniquely strange as I woke up at 10:00am, which is like 6:00am in my world, cooked a semi-huge breakfast (something I never do), cleaned the kitchen and folded all the clothes from the suitcase and clean laundry basket I had been living out of for two weeks. In the midst of doing all that I caught the first episode of VH1’s new show “You’re Cut Off.” Watch here.

Basically the show is about nine spoiled ass grown women who live lavish lives at their parent’s expense and their parents are fed up and “cutting them off.” Why the parents decide to sign them up for an eight-week TV show that is supposed to resemble a life changing boot camp of some sorts is beyond me.

One chick has 16 credit cards all with alleged limits anywhere from $50,000-$500,000. They’ve never cooked, cleaned, paid a bill or done anything remotely independent except shop and place demands on their rich parents.

Judging by appearances and what some of the women have said, I counted one Jewish chick, one Middle Easterner, two black women and a bunch of white chicks. After griping about having to ride in a Toyota mini van the ladies were escorted to their new home in a relatively middle-class suburban neighborhood. I stopped laughing at them right here:

“ZOMG Where are we? We’re in the ghetto. My housekeeper don’t even live in houses like this,” one of the girls said.

It wasn’t anywhere near the ghetto, let alone in the ghetto. I’m not opposed to the term ghetto. I am opposed to the ignorance placed behind it by so many people who have no idea about life in the ghetto.

Ghetto is not an adjective, therefore, should not be used as such. I.e. “Her hair is ghetto, she talks ghetto, she is ghetto.” The word is a noun. Furthermore, the original definition of ghetto had NOTHING to do with black folks and everything to do with Jews. To be exact, Merriam Webster defines it as:  “A quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live.” Only in the past three to four decades has the term been used to describe a poor inner city where minorities, typically blacks or Latinos reside.

What I didn’t understand was how two black women could let this comment ride. Granted the black women may or may not have found it offensive, but I would have liked to see one of them challenge this chicks’ ideas of what she thinks ghetto is.

Ignorance is definitely bliss.

“Do you guys realize we’re living like average middle class people now,” one girl said.

“No, we’re living like poor people. Like we’re on food stamps,” another girl said as they all laughed.

Really?

In watching the show I realized I couldn’t be mad because ALL of them have some deep issues. But the show sparked other thoughts about the class divide in this country between the have and have-nots.

One of my favorite professors who is from India says all the time that poverty in America is segregated in opposed to her country where poverty is in your face every single day. She couldn’t be more right.

In America there is this belief that every one has access to the American dream. If you live in deplorable conditions it is your own fault. Furthermore, we tend to never think about the poor and aren’t forced to ever really see their living conditions.

Those who have are so far removed from the have-nots it is as if they’re invisible. It’s so foreign to them that one cannot see the difference between a decent middle class suburban neighborhood vs. the ghetto.

I’ve also never understood how most of the uber wealthy people will travel to parts of Africa, India, China, Caribbean islands, etc. and have such compassion for the impoverished. You’ll rarely hear them say, “Oh they deserve those conditions, they’re lazy, it’s their own fault.” But when it comes to poor people in this country, in particularly black and brown people, the rhetoric is always that it’s people’s own fault if they’re poor. They conveniently overlook the systems in place that keep people oppressed and in a cycle of poverty.

I think it’s important to recognize the class divide in this country, and the stereotypical stigmas attached to those who are economically poor.  It’s also imperative to realize that systematic racism is alive and well.

What can we do to narrow those gaps? How can we change how we view the poor?  How do we educate the haves about the truths of the have-nots in America?

And to the girl on You’re Cut Off who thought depending on food stamps to feed your family was hysterically funny: white women are the highest demographic of people on welfare. Wonder if she’d still cackle with laughter.

*Come back Thursday and wish me luck on my last week of grad school!

  • “What I didn’t understand was how two black girls could let this comment ride.”

    Obviously, the black chicks are as privileged and as clueless as the rest of the cast. Ignorance and entitlement know no class or racial boundaries.

    Best of luck with your last week of grad school.

    Best wishes,

    Nick

    • WrittenbyBene

      @Nick: Thanks so much for the best wishes!

      I agree with you about privilege. I guess I hold unrealistic expectations for people of color regardless of class. It is my belief that anyone of color-wealthy or middle class- should be able to sympathize or have some type of concept of struggle. I guess I shouldn’t expect that because like you said they are as “clueless as the rest of the cast.”

      • anony

        Yeah….being of color doesn't really mean you are "typically" about that particular culture. Considering they are very priviledged, it's very likely that they have been sheltered and don't know "ghetto" from everyday middle-class suburbia. All that they are likely to be familiar with is only within their domain….the rest of the "everyday" world does not exist. Hence the reason why they're being "cut-off". Looks like they simply don't know any different just like the other priviledged girls. Even some middle-class black girls (BAPS) don't know the life struggles/run down neighborhoods that other blacks are living. Color doesn't have anything to do with it, just their station in life.

  • You work it, girl! I went to school for journalism, so I can relate.

    Furthermore, the rest of this blog made me want to puke. I can’t stand such blatant displays of disgusting privilege. It’s like a joke. I can’t take people like that seriously–I’ve worked my ass off since I was old enough to get a job in high school.

    I certainly won’t be watching this show, but am interested in how the show progresses. Can girls brought up like that ever redeem themselves? Can they ACTUALLY change their perspectives, when they think that big houses in middle America are ghetto? *puke*

    If you do tune in from time to time, keep us posted.