Shirley Sherrod and her resignation have been much in the news lately (Shirley Sherrod and the Resignation! Get all their greatest hits on a three CD collection!). She’s in the news because of comments she made that were taken out of context by a fairly amoral blogger. Those remarks, within context, were quite interesting, but what I mostly found interesting was her conclusion that it wasn’t race that mattered in America at this point, but class.
Now this is hardly an original conclusion, but it is one that I’ve found myself believing more and more over the last few years. I, after all, have far more in common with my black co-workers than I do with Bill Gates, despite the fact that the two of us have the same skin color. He lives in a world that has nothing to do with my world. His class is so vastly different from mine that we might as well not even be in the same universe.
I think at this point in America, and broadly through the rest of the world, the only colors that matter are those associated with whatever currency you’re used to. I can guarantee you that a rich person, no matter their color and no matter where they live, has live substantially better than anyone who has the same skin color as the majority in that place but merely gets by.
Howard Zinn wrote a book many years back called A People’s History of the United States. He makes much the same conclusions about race and class, and at the time I tried to read it, I scoffed quite a bit. Now, though, I’m beginning to think he’s right.
Class matters, no matter how much the two parties (the Republicans especially, given that they are the party of the rich), try to downplay the notion. It overwhelms everything else. Marx was very wrong about a great many things, but in this case, yeah, he was right.
Now for those who haven’t seen it, the entire Shirley Sherrod video. Do watch it! It’s fascinating.