I did it again.
I read the comments.
Again I was struck by the intensity of reaction vs the lack of vitriol. I mean, the tone was definitely combative and the “troll” was less of a troll as much and more of a “true believer.”
I get it. I seriously GET. IT. I really do. I mean, I couldn’t finish reading a published author’s post when there were two errors within a paragraph of each other and the second one was using “fourth” where “forth” should’ve been used.
I cringed, then moved on. I didn’t feel the need to publicly point out the misuse of the word.
As a writer, I believe that good grammar, proper spelling, and word usage matters. Of course it does.
That being said, a person’s worth and value doesn’t rest on whether they use “is” vs “are” correctly. Which is where we begin our tale.
It starred a meme on FB. What else could it have been?
Yeah. That was it. Cringe worthy, but, ultimately, not a big deal. Right?
Aaaand we’re off.
The initial discussion was whether Disney was a group (There is a legal, singular entity, The Disney Group International, Inc.) and if there was a group, should it be referred to in the plural.
Then it got interesting.
The initial person who made the comment was called classist. The debate shifted as she got defensive.
That interaction made me remember some recent conversations I’ve had with people regarding language, how it’s used and how that usage is perceived.
I have been accused of “talking down” to someone because I often use large or complicated words and phrases where clear, easily understood ones exist. For example, a much more natural way for me to have written that would have been: I have a tendency to use large, multisyllabic, and obscure words and phrases where clear, easily understood words exist.
Why? And why did the woman who had been a former foster child feel the need to publicly use her hard earned education to correct the grammar in a meme?
For those of us who come from a background of poverty, education is very, very important.
It’s a way to prove to ourselves and to the world that “we’re better than that” and can “make something of ourselves” by “rising above” our origins among the underprivileged, ignorant masses.
Apparently, it’s also important to those of wealth and privilege, as well. Otherwise, several, high-profile celebrities wouldn’t have been caught buying expensive, elite educations for their offspring.
In other words, having a college or University education is, not only a key to higher income, it’s a piece of evidence that we can function on the level of a higher class of people.
Why else would some POC get accused of “acting White” for speaking in certain ways? Why else are people with proven experience and ability passed over for jobs and promotions in favor of less experienced, often younger, college graduates? Why else do all the other prejudices and “isms” exist?
So, I finally felt compelled to enter the fray.
“A) The Disney Group is a collective of other corporations. It is a singular entity which encompasses other entities.
B) Classism isn’t about whether or not those of us who have worked for or earned a specific degree of education come from a position of wealth or privilege (I most certainly do not). It is an attitude and assumption of stigma toward those who aren’t educated and socialized in a specific manner which is acceptable to navigate in a classist, elitist society. It’s systemic as much as it is attached to personal privilege.
Therefore, it is possible to come from an underprivileged background and still be classist.”
I doubt there’s much to be done about Classism, other than to be aware and recognize its existence, in its various forms, then check our own assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, and language.
At least, that’s where we start.