Friday, February 17, 2012

Class Matters

"Homeless black males entertain, sing songs, tell jokes, or court attention with kind phrases hoping for money in their cup. Usually white homeless men mumble to themselves or sit silent, a cardboard sign naming their economic pain, separated when they seek help in the mainstream world. At the end of the day black and white indigents often pool earnings, sit side by side, sharing the same bottle..."

The quote is from Where We Stand: Class Matters by Bell Hooks, copyright 2000 by Gloria Watkins. I got about 1/2 way through the short book before giving up on it, even though some of it was interesting to me. If I say, "for as long as I remember," that is not true, because I remember things from when I was 3-years-old. The expression conveys how long I have heard that the government is trying to tax away the middle class.

If we always had a middle class, then we have also always had an upper and middle class. I guess when I picked the book up, I thought I would be learning if it has come to pass ~ middle class taxed out of existence. Certainly seems that way ~ all the political talk about protecting our middle class, giving them tax breaks, not the super wealthy. If I had read the entire preface before checking it out of the library, I would have realized the book is a series of essays ~ on the subject of class in the United States of America.

I have seen both black and white homeless males entertaining for spare change. Searching my memory I think it is true that I never saw a homeless black person holding a sign. I actually only remember seeing two or three homeless signers ~ or homed signers here in Long Beach. Scratching my brain, can not remember any female's entertaining or signing for change.

The exception would be those ladies painted green, statue still, in NYC's Seaport. Do not know that those individuals were homeless; like a man (black) who did magic tricks in Central Park to pick up some cash. I vaguely recall a man I saw every time I was at Grand Central terminal in NYC ~ an entertainer ~ raggedy, so always assumed he was homeless. Can not say what his skin color was ~ been many, many years since I saw him.

It is somewhat true about sharing the bottle, breaking the bread. Yet it seemed my Long Beach homeless peers basically segregated themselves along ethnic lines, as many non-homeless people do. I remember thinking this odd ~ homelessness, a great equalizer.

I remember just as many black mumblers ~ male or female ~ as white ones from my days living on the streets. The mumbling generally is related to mental illness and do not remember any mumblers panhandling ~ via silent signs or entertainment.

All I know about class matters is that it does matter in the way people perceive and treat each other.

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