micro-inequalities

Race and class privilege in daily life: Stones in the wall

We have a fieldstone retaining wall that runs most of the length of our property. It’s great for curb appeal, but it also tends to slowly come apart. Occasionally, sections need to be rebuilt. On the face of it, this involves taking the stones down and then stacking them back up, but there is more to it. You need to have a plan and some knowledge of building a stable wall to do it right. A few years ago a portion of the wall got to the point where it was clearly going to collapse fairly soon, so something had to be done. I don’t have the strength, the knowledge, nor the desire to prove my manliness to do this job. So, I called two landscape companies for estimates.

Just making the call made me aware of my middle class privilege. Not only can I afford to live in a desirable neighborhood with nice landscaping and well cared for houses, I can also afford to pay someone else to do my part to make sure it stays that way. I do this with the vast majority of the maintenance on my house. Walking into a Home Depot or Lowes makes me feel overwhelmed, but buying and using something as simple as a can of WD-40 gives me that “I’m a man!” rush. I’ll usually watch whoever repairs whatever is broken and feel like I’ve accomplished something. But, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about privilege and racism in everyday life. (more…)

Micro Inequalities and Atheism

A few days ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who asked the following question: “What’s your view on religion?”  As a sociologist of religion, I was a little bit flummoxed.  I’ve got a lot of views!  But, she meant, ‘what’s your religion.’  I came out as an atheist, something I’ve done before.  Her response, “Oh, I was hoping for at least agnostic.”

Yesterday I was reading Female Science Professor’s essay over at The Chronicle about mico-inequalities.  In this case it was micro-sexism.  In my case, it was micro-faithism?  I’m sure there is a better term that I should know.  Anyway, religion is privileged in daily life too; in my life mostly Christianity.  I, of course, got a little perturbed by ‘at least,’ and in this case I said so because it fit the conversation we were having.  Usually, however, I let the little things pass.   But, as Female Science Professor said so well, they do add up.