Saturday, October 19, 2013

NYC college student's blog post about income inequality stirs new debate on civility, even shared sacrifice

There’s a lot of flak in media about a young female college student’s blog post “I’m not going to pretend to be poor to be accepted by you”, which seems to be at this link. 

Apparently Rachael Sacks lives well in the West Village, near NYU (media reports that she goes to the New School).  I lived in the Cast Iron Building at 11th and Broadway in the 1970’s.  I even mist he lifestyle and do visit the City at times. 
The UK site Daily Mail has a detailed report of the followup on Facebook with some videos here. I take exception to the characterization of her as a "rich college girl" and the idea that she published a "rant". Is this what Robert Reich means by "inequality for all"? 
I once drew the ire of an African-American cashier in a Rite-Aid in Arlington VA for putting my money down on the table rather than handing it to her.  It meant nothing.  I needed another hand to grab some other object. 

Today, driving down Lee Highway, I passed a demonstration in downtown Falls Church VA against gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s former car company, Greentech.  I had no idea what it was.  But I felt reminded that I do not like to walk in demonstrations and have never belonged to a union or walked a picket line, and that has made some people mad when I do speak up.

About two years ago, I passed some of the remains of an Occupy DC encampment in downtown Washington, on the way to the bars.  I snapped a quick photo.  An African-American man started chasing me down K Street demanding that he have a chance to speak to me.  I finally got away.
So what do people want?  It’s not real easy to say.  Civil behavior sometimes means to say nothing about something you don’t personally think much of.  But in this age of self-broadcast in blogs and social media, that old code of civility isn’t good enough anymore.  People want to see evidence that “I” can “pay my dues”, if necessary, and “step up” and walk in someone else’s shoes.  Not always. Not most of the time.  But when they want to see it, they really need it. 
The Occupy incident may have been provoked by my camera.  Because of social media, people have become more sensitive about winding up in “gawker” photos than they were maybe three years ago.  I’ve really notice that, everywhere except in California, where it doesn’t seem to be a big deal and sensitivity to new ideas of rudeness seems less apparent.   

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