The recent posts here - values clarification, race issues and abortion - have made me think. I've been thinking about biases and judgments - mine, my friends', my co-workers', everyone's. I've started thinking about it more when I'm doing abortion-work.
I do a lot of financial counseling with clients. This seems true for everyone I know that works directly with women seeking abortions. I think we all know that abortions can be costly, time sensitive, and often not covered by health insurance (if you happen to have health insurance). The financial strain of this seems to hit low-income women particularly hard; women often already dealing with immense financial strain. So a lot of what I do is talk to them about the cost and when they tell me they don’t have that, I have to go into detail about what they have, what they have done to get money, and what else they can do i.e. borrow, pawn things, etc.
I used to be amazed when someone insisted they couldn't get another $10 or that they had nothing to pawn - only clothes. It surprised me to hear someone say they had no one to help them at all. I thought that maybe they just weren’t trying hard enough, that maybe they didn’t want to ask for money. I have learned a lot in doing this work. I have learned more about how government assistance works, how many people truly do live in poverty – poverty that I could never understand. It may seem naïve for me to say that, and it is.
I have a middle class bias. I don't think I mean to. I don't think it's intentional. But it's there. I am influenced by my white, middle class upbringing. I cannot fathom the reality that many people in this country live in, the reality that many of the clients I talk to live in. And I’m not just talking about being poor. I’m also talking about the fact that many of these clients grow up in a cycle of poverty, some are minorities, some are undocumented. They are often treated a certain way, perhaps a way I might not be treated because of the color of my skin and my class status.
Silky Laminaria’s last post on values clarification was a great way to make us all think about how we feel about choice and our limits with abortion. It made me think it might be nice to have a similar exercise on issues of race and class. I think particularly for those of us that do some work with clients from various backgrounds, it would be helpful and might give us a better understanding of where they’re really coming from. I don’t have anything put together because I just thought about writing this last night. But I hope to have something soon, maybe for my next post.