Saturday, April 21, 2007

Range of Responses

A range of responses for when someone says/does something that is classist.
by Fabulous Apparatus Collective, and the Fabulous Participants of our April 15 workshop.

When we do workshops about class and cross-class relationships, people often ask us, “But what should I do?” Well, it depends, of course. When somebody says or does something that is classist, we get to decide how to respond.

Our decisions can be based on many considerations. If we have plenty of time to make a thoughtful decision, we might ask ourselves questions like:

  • What is my relationship with this person? (Is the person a friend, a colleague, a stranger, a boss?)
  • How much am I invested in this relationship?
  • What is the power balance in this relationship? What do I have to lose?
  • What is my goal here? Do I want the other person to learn something? Do I want to feel heard? Do I want to protect myself from being exposed to this classism?
Based on our answers to questions like these, we choose from a wide range of possible responses. Being aware of our many options can help us to make choices we will feel good about. Some of the possible responses we choose from are:
  • Do nothing.
  • Walk away.
  • Change the subject.
  • “This is not interesting to me.”
  • “I don’t want to talk about this.”
  • “I think this is about class.”
  • Do nothing at the time. Write a note later.
  • Ask questions to make someone think or reflect, such as

What do you mean by (a particular word or idea)?

Where did you learn that (idea or assumption)?

Can you imagine that people might have a different perspective on that?

  • Suspend my immediate reaction; wait and see what happens next.
  • Check in with others in the situation – to compare perspectives, to check on your perceptions (“I’m not crazy, right?”), and/or to decide together what to do.
  • Step in as an ally.
  • Recruit an ally.
  • Phone a friend!
  • Provide information or resources, in many different ways, such as

Correct factual errors

Printed info sheet

Suggest other resources (website, books, …)

Suggest someone else the person should talk to about it

“I have a different experience of that.”

Do a classism 101 workshop right there on the spot.

Offer to do a classism 101 workshop some other time, or suggest someone else who can do one.

  • Propose alternative explanations.
  • Question the basis or underlying assumptions.
  • “I’m sure you didn’t intend to be classist, and …”
  • “When you say ­­­_____, I feel _______.”
  • “What is funny about that ‘joke’?”
  • “That’s not funny.”
  • Quote authority. (“Well, I read a book by Big Expert, and s/he said that this is about class.”)
  • “A lot of people think that. I disagree.”
  • “I need you to stop talking now.”
  • Yell, stomp, express anger.


For more information on Fabulous Apparatus Collective, e-mail fabulousapparatus at gmail dot com.

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