Since devoting my 2020 to promoting the concept of generating wealth in America, I had to realize it means different things to different people. To be blunt, some people don't understand what it means at all, and not because they don't want to, but the concept is foreign to them based on how and where they grew up. As I've been researching the topic, I realized the United States and most places in the world is a story about two worlds. The haves, the have-nots, the affluent, and the barely-getting-by.
We've all heard diamond-in-the-rough stories or stories about people who pick themselves up by the bootstrap. However, when you look at the year 2020 and looked at the most impacted people from Covid-19, it was the people who were already struggling to make ends meet. Looking at the wealth gap chart below, the top 5% of families have increased their wealth faster than any other family group in the last several years.
That's why I started to realize classicism is an indirect symptom of generational wealth. People who have had money over time begin to accumulate have been ahead in the race all along. Let me break this down further!
If Individual A grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, went to a top school in the country because they could afford it, and got a dream job because their dad knows someone at his investment firm, they are in one class. If Individual B grew up in a lower-working-class neighborhood, went to community college. They later transferred to a four-year institution where they had to take out student loans before finally landing an entry-level job at a company they belong to another class.
This is where classism comes in; Individual A was born with money and has a 10X better chance of succeeding in life because they are most likely to have educated parents who can fully fund the school and provide networks and connections in the workforce. Individual B has no inheritance or wealth in their family are more likely to struggle with resources, mentorships, and paying for school.
This is why I feel strongly that classism is a symptom of being wealthy whether people know it or not. It's extremely hard to compete with people who have a head-start in resources, money, and prestige. Creating equity when it comes to achieving wealth will only help prevent classicism from occurring.
How to make things more equitable, you ask? By the following:
1.Encouraging Financial Literacy in the Education and Banking System- Financial literacy shouldn't be a thing that only rich people know and understand. Financial literacy should be equitable and be provided to all people regardless of their background. Not being able to have the same resources to obtain wealth in America creates the inequities and the wealth disparities we see every day. To build generational wealth, banks and schools should teach financial literacy. Starting financial literacy at a young age will help provide a financial foundation.
2.Holding Politicians and public policies accountable- The people who represent us in public office can be detrimental to our livelihoods' success. We need to create ways to lobby for economic and financial rights for everyone. Politicians should develop policies to eradicate wealth disparities, especially amongst people of color. These policies should also provide more governance to monitor the impacts and risks of underrepresented groups.
3.Creating price caps on things like education and housing. With the onset of gentrification, lower-income people are being pushed out of neighborhoods, to make way for expensive housing. This has caused people to move farther into the suburbs or outskirts of metropolitan areas, where people are farther from the resources they need. With education, it's becoming a game of elitist tactics where schools have become a booming business with rising tuition every year. Most American's are in debt, 1.6 trillion to be exact, for something they need to even get ahead in the wealth gap.
4.Having more sympathy for others. Our society relies on people who are given much to share what they have. It's through empathy and sympathy we can find ways to relate to people and help them in times of need. Classism is a destructive structure in society and, usually, it pins the rich against the poor. We have to remember everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth and some people will struggle. It is up to society to decide if and how they should help them!
The Lioness is a financial blogger based in the Twin Cities. After spending most of her career in accounting, she decided to leap into the world of small business, investing, and savings. As she is on this journey of juggling both her career and small business, she wants to share what she is learning along the way, as she builds her passive income.