Thursday, May 07, 2009

Class Matters

If you have never been to the Central Dallas Ministries' Urban Engagement Book Club, you really should try it. Every month Randy Mayeux discusses a book that focuses on a social justice issue that challenges us to think of our society differently. There's no need to read the book beforehand. He does that for us and provides the important talking points of the book.

Today's book was Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks. bell hooks has been a favorite writer of mine since grad school. She's so blatantly honest about what she sees and knows.

One of my favorite quotes today:
For so long everyone has wanted to hold on to the belief that the United States is a class-free society--that anyone who works hard enough can make it to the top. Few stop to think that in a class-free socity there would be no top.
She has a point.

And people who live within this "class-free" society that isn't so class-free have obstacles to making it to the top.

As I drove back to my office today, I couldn't help but think about my 10 years in Turner Courts in far South Dallas. In a city of 1.3 million people, the small section of the city where I worked had absolutely no places to eat, shop, or work other than the two small corner stores that offered over-priced groceries and greasy burgers and fries at the back counter.

During the book club, Randy pointed to the video that I posted yesterday where I pointed out the one grocery store that serves all of South Dallas. The Dallas Observer reported on this a couple of years ago stating that the South Dallas Minyards serves over 30,000 people.

What I wish could've been included on that video was the reaction of the Fortune 500 lady I took into the South Dallas Minyards. In South Dallas, we always talk about how things are over-priced, but I'm not one who memorizes grocery store prices so I figured I might be over-exaggerating. But before I had a chance to say anything she exclaimed, "These prices are high!!" She confirmed my suspicions.

Would someone please explain to me why the lowest income neighborhoods have the highest prices?? I wonder if more people like this lady took the time to visit low-income neighborhoods and were forced to face the reality that in neighborhoods that average less than $10,000 annual income, the prices can be up to 50% higher (so that you believe me...a tub of sour cream in an Allen Kroger was 99 cents, compared to an Albertson's close to my house that was $1.79).

Class Matters.

Not only does it matter, it creates situations that have allowed our society to exploit the most vulnerable. Is that the kind of society we want to live in?
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