Sardines on SundaesPosted in Stigma By Coda Francis On November 28, 2011
I would like to welcome the newest member of our writing team, Coda Francis. In his first post with us, he lays out a basic understanding of how sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental illness, among other issues, impact peoples’ ability to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Thanks for speaking up and saying what we’re all thinking, Coda!
Recently, an acquaintance of mine wrote the following as her status on Facebook:
“The thing people are missing about the “rich” vs “poor” is that wealth is earned. Wealthy people are where they are because of monetarily wise decisions they have made, just as poor people stay poor because of decisions they’ve made. That is the beauty of free enterprise — you are free, to succeed or to fail. Anyone can be wealthy in Canada or America. Nobody’s keeping you down but you.”
There are so many things wrong with that statement. To start, there’s no acknowledgement of education, class, race, gender, religion, ability, etc., etc… Sorry, sweetheart, but your cushy, upper-middle-class, Christian upbringing has left you bereft of a brain.
So, is it my choice that I have schizophrenia? Is it my choice that I’m queer? Is it my choice that I come from a lower socio-economic status? Is it my choice that I was kicked out of my house before completing my high school education? Is it my choice that I don’t have rich parents supporting me?
And Joe Schmoe down the street, is it his choice that English isn’t his first language? Is it his choice that taking off his turban would make him an outcast to his culture and faith? What about Jane who was born, well, a woman? And Timothy who grew up bouncing between foster homes, and never learned adequate life skills to get by in a recessive economy? What about all those people who can’t afford higher education, or can’t find work using the University degree they starved for 4-10 years acquiring?
And that’s just getting started!
The Government has made huge cuts to social services and healthcare and education, while giving tax breaks to large corporations. Translation, for those who may not understand: Those who start out on a rough road have less and less options for support, while those who have everything they need already continue to make more and more money, at the expense of the poor.
Thus, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, and it’s not just choice. It’s how our system works. Your theory of “free enterprise” sounds nice, but you’re not seeing the big picture here. That theory is flawed. It works only on the assumption that everyone starts out on an even playing field, and life doesn’t work that way.
Needless to say, I promptly cut off my contacts with the person I quoted above. There’s no room in my life for such ignorance, and some people simply have no desire to open their eyes.
My two cents.
Someone very wise once said to me, "You are a product of your past, not a prisoner of it." These are words by which I try to live. I am an artist, mostly musically, but also in the kitchen. I'm also someone living with schizophrenia, but that doesn't define me.
anticapitalist queer mentally diverse writings yay! I am so glad I found this site. Y’all are awesome.
This myopic perspective drives me nuts. Facebook back-and-forths are a waste of time, but in person… witnessing someone endlessly circle within this train of thought is pretty spectacular. You can see the moment in their eyes when the wheels fall off the tracks and when they hop back on. Sometimes you get lucky and plant a seed that can bloom later. =)
Love it, love it, love it.