Late last month, author and PS21 global fellow Linda Tirado participated in a panel discussion titled Organizing in the 21st Century at the 2015 Virginia Festival of the Book. Drawing from her own lived experience, she discussed the issues that affect low-income and working-class communities and the intersection of race and class.
“People frequently see trees and not forest. So when we’re talking about what is left to do, we talk about these issuoes separately. We talk about racism, we talk about classism, we talk about sexism. Well, I worked as a bartender. So tell me how to separate my wage from my sexual harassment. I work on poverty issues and we know that the more melanin you have in your skin, the more work you have to do to get to the exact same place that I did. And I was barely surviving. So tell me how we separate race and class.
[…] A lot of my work is just telling people: hey, these things intersect here. And you’re not paying attention to one, and you can’t solve one without a holistic look at all of the others. For me I would say the bulk of my work is reminding people that I don’t care how much your life sucks — you still have it better than somebody else, and you still have it worse than somebody else.
The question isn’t ‘how do we make my life better,’ ‘how do we make your life better.’ The question is: how do we make it better so that nobody has an awful life in this country, the wealthiest country in the world? Why is it that half of our workers don’t know how much money they’re going to make next week? What does that say about us as a society?”