Posted by Blair Warren
Do we live in a classless society? The answer is no, but we often believe it to be yes. Why do we mask ourselves with these illusions of a balanced America?
"Classless Society", an exhibit currently in the Tang, is definitely worth exploring as it attempts to answer and explore these questions. It's a multimedia exhibit with photos, videos, graphs, and even a wheel that discovers your future income.
This exhibit opened my eyes to the realities of the society we live in, where most of today's money goes to a small amount of the wealthy, leaving the rest of the population with the leftovers.
The graph when you first walk in is captivating, as it shows what we believe to be true and what is actually true in regard to America's current distribution of wealth.
The correlation between working hard and making money isn't always accurate in America, making it difficult to move up in this society. The "American Dream" is starting to look like a hoax, yet we usually don't notice the huge gap between the significantly wealthy and the rest.
A photograph by Jim Goldberg really stuck out to me. He did a project where he photographed people in the 70s-80s and then asked them to write a caption for the picture he took. He photographed people from all different backgrounds and scenarios. The captions really expressed the values of each person and showed how everyone has differing struggles yet each struggle is valued just the same.
One of the photographs by Goldberg was of a Guatemalan housekeeper with the woman she works for in the U.S. in 1984. Her caption was simply beautiful; I had to read it a few times. At the end she wrote how she was sad to be a housekeeper but is used to it now and said, "When your illness has no cure, why worry?"
I think she sums it up very well. Sometimes we believe that our situations are unchangeable and that we should just get used to them. Although this can seem more accurate than not at times, I think we can always find ways to change or fix our situations for the better. This exhibit expresses the standstill that America is currently in about the distribution of wealth, but I think that situations can be altered and that there can be a cure.
"Classless Society" is not only deeply fascinating and well done, but is also necessary to see. Our society isn't classless; no matter how much we think it is and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can change it.