Social Justice Advocates Handbook: A Guide to Gender Understanding

30+ Examples of Middle-to-Upper Class Privilege

by Sam Killermann · 135 comments

in Privilege Lists,Social Justice

The Rainy Class Comic

Following is a list of middle-to-upper class privileges.  If you are a member of the middle class or upper class economic groups (or, in some cases, perceived to be) listed below are benefits that may be granted to you based on your group membership — benefits not granted to folks in the lower class.  The goal of the list is to help folks who have access to these privileges be more cognizant of their privilege, encouraging better understanding of class-based difference in our society.

  1. Politicians pay attention to your class, and fight for your vote in election seasons.
  2. You can advocate for your class to politicians and not have to worry about being seen as looking for a handout.
  3. You can readily find accurate (or non-caricatured) examples of members your class depicted in films, television, and other media.
  4. New products are designed and marketed with your social class in mind.
  5. If you see something advertised that you really want, you will buy it.
  6. You can swear (or commit a crime) without people attributing it to the low morals of your class.
  7. If you find yourself in a legally perilous situation, you can hire an attorney to ensure your case is heard justly.
  8. You can talk with your mouth full and not have people attribute this to the uncivilized nature of your social class.
  9. You can attend a “fancy” dinner without apprehension of doing something wrong or embarrassing the hosts.
  10. You understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy food, and can choose to eat healthy food if you wish.
  11. You can walk around your neighborhood at night without legitimate concern for your safety.
  12. In the case of medical emergency, you won’t have to decide against visiting a doctor or the hospital due to economic reasons.
  13. You have visited a doctor for a “check-up.”
  14. Your eyesight, smile, and general health aren’t inhibited by your income.
  15. If you become sick, you can seek medical care immediately and not just “hope it goes away.”
  16. If you choose to wear hand-me-down or second-hand clothing, this won’t be attributed to your social class, and may actually be considered stylish.
  17. You can update your wardrobe with new clothes to match current styles and trends.
  18. As a kid, you were able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities (field trips, clubs, etc.) with school friends.
  19. As a kid, your friends’ parents allowed your friends to play and sleep over at your house.
  20. You don’t have to worry that teachers or employers will treat you poorly or have negative expectations of you because of your class.
  21. The schools you went to as a kid had updated textbooks, computers, and a solid faculty.
  22. Growing up, college was an expectation of you (whether you chose to go or not), not a lofty dream.
  23. Your decision to go or not to go to college wasn’t based entirely on financial determinants.
  24. People aren’t surprised if they realize you are intelligent, hard-working, or honest.
  25. An annual raise in pay at your job is measured in dollars, not cents.
  26. You’ve likely never looked into a paycheck advance business (e.g., “Check Into Cash”), and have definitely never used one.
  27. You are never asked to speak for all members of your class.
  28. Whenever you’ve moved out of your home it has been voluntary, and you had another home to move into.
  29. It’s your choice to own a reliable car or to choose other means of transportation.
  30. Regardless of the season, you can count on being able to fall asleep in a room with a comfortable temperature.
  31. When you flip a light switch in your house, you don’t have to wonder if the light will come on (or if your utilities have been terminated).
  32. People don’t assume you’ve made an active choice to be in your social class, but instead assume you’re working to improve it.
  33. The “dream” of a house, a healthy family, and a solid career isn’t a dream at all, but simply a plan.
  34. People do not assume based on the dialect you grew up speaking that you are unintelligent or lazy.
  35. When you choose to use variants of language (e.g., slang terms) people chalk them up to plasticity in the language (rather than assuming your particular dialectical variants deserve redicule and punishment).
  36. [leave a comment below with another example!]

Written by Sam Killermann

Sam is a writer and performer who uses those skills as an ally to advance progress in the realms of LGBT equality and social justice. He tours the country speaking to college students about stereotypes, prejudice, and oppression, and writes for this site when he's at home in Austin, TX.

  • email
  • Thoughtexperimenter

    People do not assume based on the dialect you grew up speaking that you are unintelligent or lazy. Also, when you use variants of language people chalk them up to plasticity in the language (rather than assuming your particular dialectical variants deserve redicule and punishment)

    • Samuel Killermann

      Ah, thoughtful additions. I’ll add them in now. Thanks for contributing!

    • Kris Raleigh

      They do if you’re middle class but still “a hick”.

    • Kris Raleigh

      Or a non-Anglo-Saxon person with an ethnic slang.

    • Sarah Hall

      That’s…not entirely true…I am middling to upper middle class, and I chose to learn a whole new accent because people mocked me so much for my old one. It sounded ‘lazy’ and ‘arrogant’, etc. etc. My vocabulary was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘cheap’.

      • Caitlin_Buelt

        A person with real class and personal stature would not change for others, but rather demand and earn respect for who they are, all the while squashing stereotypes.

        This is something I admire about working-class types who become lawyers, doctors, etc. in Texas and parts of the South. They often do not abandon their working-class heritage. This also is often true in the UK.

        Also, if you don’t mind, please explain what places you in the middle- to upper-middle class category.

  • Eliza

    Oh my gosh, I’ve never actually thought about class privilege,.I just assumed that all the listed privileges I enjoy was just a part of life, as a Pagan Asian-American transgirl living in this society, it’s very easy to forget how good I actually have it compared to members of the lower class.

    • Ella

      ….I had better be reading this wrong, because you have it better than a poor trans person if you’re upper class. Just to start, you can actually afford the medication and the surgery (if desired) that’s required to transition, as well as the several hundred dollars it takes to request a legal name change.

      • Eliza

        My family is working class actually (lower middle? We live in a small condo and we’re not exactly rich, I’m not sure… Both my parents work in factories and our annual income is about $30000 acording to my mom)… we’re just not lower class or poor. I haven’t started blockers yet, but my parents are trying to save some cash, and I constantly feel guilty for it since we fight a lot and I don’t listen to them. Yes, I’m a spoiled 14-year-old brat, I’m not proud of it.

        The only reason why I’m giving you my life story is because I don’t want you to assume anything about me or my family again. My post simply mentioned that as a teenage brat I was so caught up in my own self-pity that I didn’t open my eyes and realize that things could be a lot worse. (Yeah, I know, I should’ve realized this a long time ago, but I’m not exactly mature either)

      • Eliza

        and yes, I’m pretty sure you read it wrong…

        • R Evans

          Yep, the phrasing of your opening post came off as sarcastic. It’s a lesson everyone but the trolls have to learn about online communication, especially when communicating about matters of privilege.

    • Maiya78

      ha, me too, in many ways: MAAB pre-transition 2F, pagan (eclectic), gynecophilic, polyamorous (though, not actually in any relationships at this moment). I’m also very white and middle class and Western (specifically, American), so it’s interesting to read these. There were a few in this one that somewhat surprised me, interesting because many of my best friends are quite a bit below middle-class, and from their stories I usually seem to have a pretty decent concept of a lot of the classism they experience.

      • Tom

        I’d like to see a list of privileges for people who adhere to culturally normative romantic relationship patterns.

        • Myndi
        • Sally

          “culturally normative romantic relationship patterns.”? LoL, kid. easy. that probably means you either:
          a: are into raping people
          b: are into fucking children
          c: are into promiscuity
          d: are into open relationships/orgies

          If your case is A you might get away with it for quite a while.
          If your case is B it might be much harder
          if your case is either C or D and you’re a man, you will be praised and no one will mind
          if your case is either C or D and you’re a woman, you’ll be stigmatized as a whore, a disgusting diseased cunt, bellow-human, and take an awful lot of shit from people.

  • Hillary Carter

    I’m not sure talking with your mouth full is exactly a privilege. I mean, I get the spirit of this one, you can have manner fails. While it might not get chalked up to your class, people will still attribute it to your lack thereof.

  • Joy Butler

    When you need to travel to work or run errands or visit your doctor, you do not have to do much planning, because you can jump in your car (or on your bike) and go. You do not have to check bus schedules, beg for rides, plan time to walk, or worry about the vehicle you do have breaking down on the way to your destination.

    • Kris Raleigh

      Middle class people in rural areas DO have to make plans to visit their doctor, because usually they don’t have a “THEIR doctor”, they have a phone directory and a list of names of possible doctors for this one instance. And then the closest doctor’s office or hospital might be hours away at best.

      • R Evans

        Really? There are no GPs with steady patients in rural areas? I understand there is a GP shortage but I don’t buy that it hits all but a minority of middle-to-upper class rural people, except by choice.

        Even if that is the case you’re ignoring what Joy Butler was explicitly referring to in terms of planning (the travel factor). No matter how far a car ride, if it’s your maintained car (and no one else in the family needs it because it is an only car) the absolute worst case scenario (barring accident) is the need to have a map and maybe the need to detour around an obstacle on the way.

        Unless you’ve had your license revoked: “You do not have to check bus schedules, beg for rides, plan time to walk, or worry about the vehicle you do have breaking down on the way to your destination.”

  • Joy Butler

    When you apply for jobs, choose a school to attend, a doctor to see, or pick stores at which to shop, you have a large distance range from which to select. You do not have to limit yourself to those you can access from bus and subway routes, or can reach by walking/bike.

    • Heather Jones

      People assume that you live in walking/biking distance of anything, or have access to buses and subways.

      • Kris Raleigh

        Or they assume that you have close range options at all, and that traveling to shop is a luxury.
        In fact, for rural people, traveling to shop is sometimes a necessity (if you can afford to travel). If you can’t travel, you have to make do by making things yourself with the materials you have, instead of buying them (I haven’t bought any new clothes in probably three years?)

      • Zenith Chasing

        We get it. You live in the country. That does not mean that every point brought up about living in an urban environment as a member of the lower class is invalid or requires your qualifications.

        • Amber Smith

          I don’t live in the country. Assumptions.
          Why are you trying to shut down discussion of privilege (and lack of privilege) on a thread that’s nearly a year old?

          • Zenith Chasing

            I am not trying to shut down any discussions, it seemed to me like you were trying to do so, which is why I said something. I noticed that you replied to many of the comments left by people who were adding to the list, and were responding in an invalidating manner, simply because their contributions related to living in urban areas. As an urban member of the lower class I felt the need to defend myself. I do however apologize if it came across as harsh. I did not notice that the thread was nearly a year old but I hardly see how that is relevant. I was unaware that articles and comment sections had an expiration date.

          • ctmany

            You said it! Who give a shiz if the thread is “old.” I do lots of internet research, reading, and Googling, so I randomly come across old articles and blog posts on the internet ALL THE TIME that are really wonderful.


      This one is wrong to the max. I am upper middle class for sure. I am also disabled. Yes I have the nice house, the great job, savings and i want for nothing. I live well. However my disabilities prevent me from driving so I need public transit, cabs or other transportation arrangements. I am middle upper class but I still need to choose my home, job and other life logistics based on proximity to transit.
      I live in an upscale suburb in an access restricted building that effectively keeps out unwelcome hordes. The neighborhood is very nice so we have many fine resturants that deliver. We have good markets filled with fresh organic foods. Transportation is plentiful and varied. Quality medical care is close by. However my disabilities and lack of the ability to drive force me to live in a upper middle class enclave sheltered from the poor, the ignorant and chronically unwashed!

  • Guest

    You can smile broadly in public, knowing that your parents (or you) paid for good dental care, and as a result, your teeth are pearly-white and straight.

  • Joy Butler

    When you call the police or a cab, either will come quickly to your neighborhood.

    • Heather Jones

      Neighborhood? A lot of poor people live in country areas which effectively aren’t served by emergency services (police/ambulance might get there in an hour) and where cabs are non-existent.

      • Kris Raleigh

        A lot of middle class people living in rural areas have this problem too. It’s not JUST those poor ol’ hicks who can’t afford to put corn on the table. *point at middle class rural self*

  • Devian Michaels

    You aren’t stopped and questioned randomly by police just for walking down to the cornerstore.

    You don’t have to carry a weapon just to pick up groceries.

    If you see lights outside your window, you can assume it’s headlights and not the prowler who has attempted to break into your house 5 times before.

    If your house gets broken into, the police don’t assume you just sold things for drug money.

    • Kris Raleigh

      You can be a middle class person in a rural area and be constantly disrespected by police. Any time a big police raid happened in my hometown, because it was a rural town, people in outlying districts would get nervous that we had gone all Children Of The Corn or some other hick massacre stereotype. In actuality, it was usually just that the state troopers had been tipped off about a bunch of marijuana or moonshine.
      A lot of drug-related, laziness related, and hooligan related stereotypes were applied to us by the State Troopers. Luckily, our local departments were usually boonies like us and weren’t quite so prejudiced, but we really hated dealing with state troopers.

      If there were lights outside my window, I would have been worried about a house or forest fire, and that we wouldn’t be able to get help in enough time.

      • Maddy Norgard

        I understand that sure rural middle class people have problems to, but I don’t feel like that means we need to detract from the conversation at hand. Remember Opression= privilege + power, meaning that although there are isolated effects of bad things that happen to middle to upper class people, but they aren’t oppression because they don’t follow that equation they are specific instances. Ruralism is also another instance of oppression however, but I don’t think because ruralism exists we should detract attention from the issues pertaining to this article and the oppression of lower class people. It feels like we’re playing the oppression olympics of who has it worse, which is never a good game. Movements to solve problems work a lot better when we all work together not undermining other movements because your movement also needs attention it leads to a lose lose situation because the problem is perpetuated infinitely. If you would like to write an article/piece about ruralism I would gladly read it, but I would just say be careful in comparing the two oppressed groups of who has it worse, because thats the privileged groups way of ensuring we all eliminate each other rather than make real definitive change.

        • Class of 1980

          You haven’t read Joe Bageant have you?

        • gram parsons

          woah sounds like you’ve such a hard done by life.

        • ur talking but not saying shi*

          Go stick toothpicks into your eyeballs,7 inch nails in each ear & bang your face into pavement until you lose consciousness, or did you already…? (Fuckin* idiot)

      • Devian

        I totally agree with you. It’s a state of mind, no matter where you live. The reason why I pointed this out is because, when I lived with my parents, we were considered middle class, lived in a relatively nice house in a rural area, and walking the 2 miles to the nearest gas station held no problems, even at 5am. When I got married, I moved in with my husband, and we live in a poor area, very few built-foundation homes, and walking 1 mile to the corner store could be just as dangerous as leaving your windows open.

        I’ve carried a knife since high school. I lived in big cities for most of my life, and I wasn’t blind to the dangers. Moving in with my husband was the first time in my life I contemplated buying a gun, because the police do not show up for at least half an hour (usually more like 2), and there are only 2 patrolmen for our 30-mile radius. When I lived with my mom, we at least had citizens-on-patrol to cover a 5-mile radius.

        • Lisa

          Why would you marry down? First rule marry in your class or marry up but never down. Big mistake.

          • Andy

            Uh, because love should not have to do with class. The thinking of marry in one’s class or higher is very shallow. There are wonderful, intelligent people who are low income. Also, some of us who are poor are low income due to being disabled.

          • Meatworld

            I agree Andy (what about unfortunate circumstances where even accountants got laid off and/or medical costs (even with insurance?) but also, perhaps they decided they wanted to be independent and not take their parents’ money because a lot of the privilege comes from having a source of “start up money” or a “downpayment”. And they might have decided to put their money toward travel or charity. Perhaps they’re teachers and they want to live closer to their school and their students to relate better. There is technically no marrying up or down. It’s marrying for the right reasons or the wrong reasons and with the right or wrong person. Those aren’t class differentiated.

    • Jamie

      You have never in your life “walked to the corner store”. And you know that “corner store” is two words, not one.

      • Devian

        Congratulations, you caught my misspelling. Please, tell me how you know so much about me? Are you the prowler that the police won’t come check out? Or are you the guy who tried to run my husband over? Or maybe you’re the policeman who stopped and searched my husband because he carries a kukri to go pick up milk?

      • Caitlin_Buelt

        This isn’t true. Many truly middle-class neighborhoods are older, walkable, and semi-urban. I think the village-style neighborhood layout is defined by the true, established middle class. Think of Chicago’s North Shore, places like Wilmette, Winnetka, Lake Forest, etc. Those places are just an example, but this is true all across the country. I do believe it’s the barely-established new middle class that is afraid to walk or live in urban areas for fear of being associated with “less thans”. I would imagine the barely-established new middle class also avoids such areas so that their bubble isn’t bursted and true social ranking revealed due to exposure and proximity of the true established middle class.

    • R Evans

      “You aren’t stopped and questioned randomly by police just for walking down to the cornerstore.”

      Unless you’re middle-to-upper class and black or dress in certain fashions.

  • Miriam Mogilevsky

    You know how to do things like applying to college.

    You can get a loan or a credit card.

    • Yuberniz Yubi Orengo

      And if you don’t know, you can easily find someone in your family who has applied to college.

      • Lee McKinnis

        Or a friend.

    • [email protected]

      Exactly! My parents never even mentioned college and laughed when I told them I wanted to practice law. My best friend from that era is now a judge. At 47, I am finally attending school to become a screenwriter while tending to my two children on my own. I’ve ensured my children know that an education is not a choice, but a necessity.

  • Pingback: Privilege and power - Empty Closets - A safe online community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people coming out

  • Pingback: 30+ Examples of Middle-to-Upper Class Privilege

  • Emily

    I think that by pointing out the privileges that others have (Christians, cisgender, upper-middle class, hetero, etc) you are inviting an atmosphere of self pity and bitterness, as opposed to one of empowerment. In my opinion, the entire point is to point out not our differences, but our similarities. You recognize this in another article. The recognition of common humanity, as well as the promotion of positivity will promote change. These lists just make me sad and angry, and not for the right reasons. I really love your site, but not these lists.

    • McKenzie Cameron

      i think that’s only the case when you aren’t a member of the community that the article is focusing on. Personally, this list made me think. “The “dream” of a house, a healthy family, and a solid career isn’t a dream at all, but simply a plan.” especially hit home. Perhaps it breeds self-pity for people who aren’t middle and upper-class, but it gave me an opportunity to really reflect on what I take for granted daily. That was the intended purpose of this article.

      • E. Sanchez

        Then it should be phrased differently and have a list, disclaimer, or whatever to note that this isn’t everyone’s experience, and that the upper classes have legitimate problems. They’re stereotyped and disdained too. And many upper class people are very aware of these. If they’re well-bred, then they’ve heard this all their lives and have been told to be thankful and aware of their blessings, and to use them to help others. We don’t all need to be reminded constantly. It feels like an attack.

    • Angel Hime

      This list isn’t really intended for poor people like myself. Sure, I could read it and get jealous, self-pitying, and angry… but instead I get excited, and hopeful. I think some middle-to-upper class people will look at this, and realize the privileges they have. Maybe the ones who think they have it so bad will look at those who are poor, and stop viewing them as “lazy” “do nothings”, as “sponges”/”leeches”, etc. Maybe they’ll start seeing us as just humans who are struggling to have a better life. (Although, I agree the list seems aimed more at people in the city. Here in the country, we definitely know what vegetables are, because sometimes we have to grow our own food to save money. DIY isn’t a hobby for a lot of us, it’s a means of survival.)

  • Pingback: 50+ concrete things you can do today to work toward social justice

  • Kelly G

    This is fascinating to read from the perspective of someone who grew up working class/not middle class/more financially precarious and is now middle class (according to most markers). I had noticed that some of my privileges changed (the primary reason for pushing upward!)

  • Heather Jones

    Many of the items here pertain exclusively to life as an *urban* poor person, and do not pertain at all to the lives of the rural poor. Rich city elites have an unfortunate habit of forgetting entirely about rural folks–out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Forgetting, erasing. It’s what privilege is about, I guess.

    Here’s one for you: my country relatives could not flush their toilets for 2 years because of the drought. (They do not get city water in a nice pipe. They have to find their own.)

    # 10 is just flat-out offensive. I guarantee you that we have always known what a vegetable is, because we grow them in our gardens.

    • Kris Raleigh

      Thank you Heather! Coming from a rural area myself, this means a lot to me. Another issue is that a lot of middle class people from suburban and rural areas are dealing with the same issues that poor people are dealing with in the cities (such as lack of access to health care, safety, teachers, and other resources), yet we also have many of OUR OWN issues too.
      For instance, most rural people, whether poor or middle class, likely do not get benefits with their jobs.

    • Kris Raleigh

      Also, if you live in a rural area and a natural disaster strikes your region, it is the rural areas that are always the last to get help.
      Whether upper, middle, or lower class, if you are urban or suburban, you fair MUCH better than any class of rural person in this.

      • Lee McKinnis

        Rural areas tend to be better off when a famine strikes.

    • AKB

      I think #10 was meant to address decreased access to food education for the working class—not imply that no working class people are educated about food

      • Caitlin_Buelt

        I interpreted it as meaning lack of education; and from my experience and what I see, I agree.


          Truly good food is expensive. Mass produced frankenfoods are cheap but taste like crap. poor city folk can’t buy good food. It is rare that poor people can buy a FRESH vegitable. It has nothing to do with being intelliegent or knowing what good food is. The urban poor live in what the government calls food deserts. Urban America is loaded with places where the only things sold at corner stores is garbage over processed salt, sugar and junk laden food like garbage.
          I live in a middle class area and we have choices of fresh foods from multiple sources within EASY walking distance. You can be educated as you want about healthy eating in urban areas but the access to healthy food is just not there. Also healthy food costs much more and needs to be stored properly. Healthy food has a short shelf life. All these logistics and economic forces prevent the working poor from living well.
          Money gives one options. The truly poor and working poor have far fewer options even if they are well educated.

          • Meatworld

            You may want to check out a recent photographic essay where women on food stamps took pictures either daily or weekly and one was how a banana is cheaper at a ralphs or similar and at the appropriate ripeness and the banana at a local grocery store was more expensive and over ripe. Many of the major grocery stores won’t go into certain areas and they pass on the savings they get for having bargaining power since they purchase in such large quantities. So the grocery stores that do go into those neighborhoods are usually independently owned by someone who also doesn’t have access to better inventory/resources. In LA during the riots in the 90s, I heard the #1 thing that got taken was Charmin toilet paper because they were never able to afford it even if it was in their local convenience stores and they felt it was teasing them as they grabbed the bargain, not as soft brands. We live in such a messed up world. =(

    • R Evans

      But do you know that well cooked meat, well cooked potatoes, are unhealthy, and why (acrylamide formation)? Do you know which meats and oils are the healthiest, and in which proportions (Udo’s oil)? Do you get food advice from a dietitian or personal trainer who has studied the matter? Do you know which vegetables to eat to maintain balanced nutrition, especially if you are a vegan? Which fruits? Which nuts? Which grains? Which legumes? The issues with soy (phytoestrogens)? Are you aware of the pros and cons of the various ‘healthy’ diets various doctors claim (Atkins, etc…)?

      I don’t know many of these things, but I do know of their existence.

      Healthy eating is far more than just eating daily vegetables.

  • ann

    #38 You can read. Read and understand almost all texts – even juridical texts to sign. When not, you know somebody who can explain what are the consequences.
    [English is not my native language. Be understanding.]

    • ann

      - You know how to read the hour on your watch.
      You can count. You can read. You kow how to phone and present yourself by phone. [Maybe that is true in most country now.] You are able to write an official lettre by yourself.
      - You have the Internet – to see job offer, send résumé and cover letter when you search for a job.
      - You have current water and electricity – and payed. And then youy don’t suffer from cold during winter.

  • Pingback: 30+ Examples of Middle-to-Upper Class Privilege

  • Erika

    I guess this is what all my poor friends were talking about when they said they were “jealous”

  • Tala

    Wow, even with the tough economic times I am reminded how blessed I am. So now that I know how privileged I am what can I do with it? However I have one parent who is disabled and one who is a public school teacher. I tend to buy a lot of my own items and food along with paying for a portion of the bills. Often we leave off the AC or heat in the season because it costs to much.

  • Pingback: Privilege for Absolute Beginners. | Adipose Activist

  • Emily

    I’m … lower middle class or upper working class. As I read through this list, I found it interesting that I recognized myself as privileged in some of these ways, but not all. Classism seems … fluid isn’t the right word… non-binary, and more so than most other sources of privilege/oppression systems.

    • Kris Raleigh


  • Kris Raleigh

    Half of these problems are now middle class problems too.
    I haven’t seen a dentist or eye doctor in years, I haven’t had a check up in years, when I get sick I do end up simply hoping it will go away. No matter where I go, “:middle class” suburban area, or “poor” city area, I’m afraid to walk all the streets at night because I have a vagina.
    My highschool HAD updated equipment, books, and a solid faculty at one point, before the recession hit and loads of teachers got laid off.
    I’m a student now, and yes, I was expected to go to college. But I also often go without food AT ALL, let alone healthy food, and I’m swimming in debt that I can’t get out of.

    Because I go to a state university, and not a “real university”, my slang DOES get judged on a regular basis by “more intelligent people.

    In fact,. my slang gets judged in middle-class and mixed company.
    This is especially because I come from a rural area and speak with an old vernacular slang with Irish and Polish ethnic colloquialisms that most people aren’t used to. I’ve only managed to learn code switching in the last three to four years, and I still often slip up, especially in the company of friends who still sometimes judge me.

    All this, yet my father works a job that qualifies him in the middle-income tax bracket.
    I go to a SUNY school in a small-town college that nobody’s heard of. We can’t afford many basic health coverages, and my sister is a type-1 diabetic. Because my father is a seaway pilot and is labeled “self-employed” even though he has a boss, our family gets no benefits. In the event of a serious family emergency, he will likely be unable to be there because he doesn’t get paid leave.

    I could go on and on…

    This is the most ignorant post I’ve seen in a long time.

    • Maddy Norgard

      I don’t think this is something I would blame the poster on. I think there are two more likely reasons for this, actually I’d say one major factor that you should examine over this. The middle class tax bracket isn’t necessarily properly identified. The governments definitions of the poverty line and things like that are completely flawed. If you’ve ever looked into different assistance programs for low income families they often have different formulas to determine what low income actually qualifies as. That being said, there are people who have more money than you and often substantially more money than you and can benefit from the privileges listed here. So maybe we’re not talking about the privileges of the government defined middle class, but the middle class who has enough money to not worry about these things. I also think that since there’s a certain fluidity in class privilege, that there are probably instances of privilege you can benefit from that other people can’t and its important for people all across the spectrum to realize the privileges they do have to work to overcome the structural problems in our society.

    • R Evans

      I’m sorry but you sound working class to me, not middle class.

      I was raised upper middle class (not upper class though), and am now working class. To me you sound as though you were raised working class, or at best lower middle class, and are currently living working class or even poor (though hopefully that is a temporary situation during college and the first few years out of college).

    • Caitlin_Buelt

      “….I’m afraid to walk all the streets at night because I have a vagina….” -Kris Raleigh

      I’m curious about this. Please explain. Are you a fearful person or just realistic? Please explain. I’m not trying to judge you or anything. I just want to understand where you’re coming from.

  • Erika

    This is really en lighting for someone like me who has lived upper class all there life. Makes you appreciate what you are lucky to have. I mean really I didn’t know what or how food-stamps work until I was 21 and behind someone at a grocery store.

  • Ayn Rand

    All of this is marxist bullshit. Get a job.

    • Karin Karejanrakoi

      Get a heart.

  • LaFenix

    When you get even a small hole in your clothes, you just throw them out because you already have new ones. I’ve felt the social pressures on both sides of this. This is actually quite true….and hurtful.


      Ouch that one hurt. I do it all the time. ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING I wear develops even the tiniest hole I throw it away. If the material is absorbant I make clothes with holes in a cleaning rag before throwing them away.

  • Elyse

    Wow….. I can’t believe how many people are responding so defensively to this. Apparently a lot of people who have prided themselves on saying, “I’m socially and politically aware!” are myopic and conceited enough that they won’t even concede the simple fact that they are PRIVILEGED on certain accounts relative to others. Accept it, don’t take it for granted, do something about it.

  • Eli

    This article is poorly conceived. The upper middle class being able to pay for things is not ‘privilege’ anymore than a poor person who chooses to have a job and thus can buy more groceries is privileged over a poor person who does not work. When you ‘earn’ money, by definition, its uses are the opposite of privilege.

    The term ‘privilege’, as it is used in social context, refers to unearned advantages. Anything or any solution that is had due to the ability to pay for it, by definition, is earned and therefore not ‘privilege’.

    Other points that you make are thoroughly flawed. I could rebut most of them, but here are a few:

    1. Anyone can go to college because everyone is eligible for Stafford loans. The government has made cost a non-factor, as long as you go to an affordable school like I did and do. I have never received a dime of money outside of what the government has loaned me. Not for food nor rent. I’m in the same exact college tuition finance situation as every poor person in this country. We all have to pay back the loans. Deal with it. The difference is I don’t whine, complain, nor do I feel entitled to more than my parents were not able to give me. I will succeed due to my hard work in school and, with a little luck, I will be able to make it a little easier on my kids. However, they will not be ‘privileged’ either. Whatever they get will be a glad gift of the hard work of their father who chooses to earn resources and spend them on his progeny.

    2. Everyone who asks politicians for financial consideration is seen as asking for handouts.

    3. Everyone can find non-caricatured portrayals of their class in the media, as well as caricatured portrayals. That’s a fact.

    4. Basic manners are all it takes to get through any dinner, anywhere.

    5. People within a neighborhood can all choose not to commit crimes and therefore make their neighborhood safe to walk in.

    4. Everyone who talks with their mouth full is seen as uncivilized.

    5. There is no such thing as ‘plasticity in language’ when referring to dialect use and slang. You are incorrectly using this neurobiology term when you apply it to language use. The fact is that every American can learn the Standard American English ‘dialect’ and choose to speak it. Using slang and differing dialects, for adults, is a choice. Pure and simple. Someone who would rather speak French in an American work environment is also not given a pass on speaking SAE. Either one learns the basic language of the workplace or they are justly eliminated from employment consideration because of their inability to effectively communicate. Effective communication with co-workers is an essential and basic requirement of employment. If anyone who speaks any dialect of American English is confused, they need only turn on the television for all of the free SAE demonstration that they can handle.

    • Jeff Kempka

      Everyone of your points is based on the “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” myth, which is an oversimplification of life/society. Hard work and more work make up a small piece of the success equation. Privilege is NOT always earned. The children of the rich will enjoy benefits they did not earn and will be propelled towards the “finish line” faster and with less effort than working class and poor kids. And just like you they will scoff at the “whining” of those less fortunate. Tell people to get off their butts, work harder and make better choices is ignorant at best and arrogant at worst.

      • david

        except that people need to get off their butts and do something. Observe how the successful live, how they make choices, where they live, how they behave and then do it.

        • Lee McKinnis

          So go be a douchebag and scam people out of their money and engage in shady business practices?

        • Jeff Kempka

          Wow, now I know what to do! Thanks David! So it doesn’t matter what circumstances you were born in, who your parents are, who you know, etc.? Just get off your ass! So my kids can do better than Bill Gates’ if they work harder?
          Once again, you make life sound so simple. Just get up and make good choices – or watch what the god-like successful people and do what they do. If it were so simple then why are a majority of the 6-7 billion people on earth living hand-to-mouth? I guess they/we made bad choices.

    • Lee McKinnis

      #4 – there are differences at say a dinner at a 5 star restaurant which engages in French etiquette and multi-course meals for example.

  • Estephani

    Privilege of middle to upper class is driving an older car and and not judged too,poor to buy a better car. Lower, working class often drive,expensive, newer cars to offset the truth to,society at large that they live in overcrowded apartments or still live with their parents in their thirties and forties in their childhood bedroom that they share with their own child(ren).

  • maiaminna

    Good list, but the schools I went to as a kid didn’t have computers because of my age, not my class (you ageist!) :D

  • Hiya


  • Marlowe Clark

    …I hope you realize that even the upper middle class is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay far into the bottom 99%.

  • David

    According to this, I’m in the lower class. Great. Just some more proof of what I have secretly always known but was always too afraid to admit. I’m trash, I’m poor, I have no money, and all of my dreams are just that, dreams.

    • Nina

      Oh sweetheart, that’s not what this post was supposed to mean. It was written to help privileged people realize their privileges, as well as grow the obvious realization that the lower classes are judged in illogical ways, marginalized and essentially barred from the many advantages of living in a first world countries that the middle and upper class thoroughly enjoy. How does that make you trash?

      P.S. Sorry if the pet name at the beginning sounded patronizing, I only wanted to cheer you up.

  • Helen Acosta

    Those 2 houses are often in the same neighborhood if it is a traditional neighborhood built before 1940. I live in a little 1100 square foot cottage just a few blocks from a house that looks almost exactly like that big white mansion in the picture.

    Where ever there were neighborhoods built during the railroad boom you’ll find that unique mix of mansions, small homes, multi-unit rentals and “mother-in-law” units. These traditional neighborhoods survive economic ups and downs with greater elasticity than the suburbs because they are heterogeneous. Diversity equals economic elasticity :)

  • Theo Hummer

    Awesome privilege lists! I like the variety represented here! But–how come no white privilege list?

  • Chris Cox

    That’s true. We also forget here the example of the expectations/pressures that we face, including
    (1) Having a successful career – you simply cannot get away being a retail clerk / etc. without facing immense judgment from family & friends. Born into a family business? You can run away from it and lose all your opportunities and disappointing your family, or take it and be in management because you took the easy route and be judged.
    (2) Avoiding all and any disagreeableness – apart from obvious misconduct, we’re frowned upon for just about everything and anything. Getting drunk is bad enough, and you’ll receive plenty stern looks; if you actually do something naughty like getting pregnant outside of marriage, we all know you’ll be an outcast, so just don’t do it. Try to be LGBT? Just Don’t… It’s going to define you for the rest of your life – like it or not.
    (3) Associating with others who dress appropriately and have good manners. Want to meet interesting people? Best do it late at night when you are out of camera-shot and your friends are drunk.

    I think it’s very easy to judge the middle/upper classes of being callous, which sometimes we are. We’re certainly priviledged, but it’s not as easy to be perfect as one might consider on face value – a great many of us are doing our very best. It’s very rare to encounter something that discusses how to deal with the challenges we do face in a constructive (and non-judgmental) way.

    • Sabrina Morgan

      That’s probably because risking social censure and risking heat stroke, freezing to death, or long-term consequences of preventable illness aren’t considered of the same magnitude.

      That said, yes, acting outside of WASP cultural expectations does have real consequences that impact one’s life. And that said, one can choose to accept those expectations or accept the consequences of rejecting them.

      It’s harder to choose to be born into a family that can afford to keep the heat on.

  • Myrlyn Biffle

    You’ve never had to limp off a broken foot.
    You can get a car. You can use this car.
    You don’t have to live in terror of one of your kids breaking something because you don’t want to force them to limp off their broken foot.
    You don’t have to live in terror that your car will break and you won’t be able to get to work anymore and get to watch everything freefall from there.
    You have a computer and internet mostly freely available. (Depends on computer:people ratio).
    When it’s time to get replace something that has finally, after many months of functioning poorly, has broken, you can.
    You’ve never heard anyone tell you that you’re a mistake your parents made and that’s why your family is poor.
    You’ve never heard that you’re simply not trying hard enough, or that you’re not mentally capable.
    You’ve never lost weight entirely on accident.
    You’re not told you shouldn’t be allowed to vote because you don’t know anything about important issues.
    You can afford the help you need. Or even just the help you want.

    And if anyone wants to give me any shit about any of this being an exaggeration, they’re all personal experience. I have more, but they sound more like bitter bitching than even this list did.

    • ZZ

      Limping on a broken foot sounds painful as hell.

  • Cerridwen Aligningenergies

    I would object to the wording of #10. I think it would be accurate to say that access to healthy food and good information about food and nutrition is easier for middle and upper class, but it seems a tad arrogant to assume working and poor folk don’t know about good food and healthy choices.

  • Cerridwen Aligningenergies

    I think #10 should be reworded. I think it is a tad arrogant to assume that working or poor folk don’t know what healthy food is, although they may live in a “food desert” and not have easy access to good food or good information, let alone be able to afford it.

  • Cerridwen Aligningenergies

    If I did not have the financial resources and middle class background I have had, I truly believe that I would now be dead. I had migraines for which mainstream medicine and health insurance had no diagnosis and no treatment. Virtually all the truly helpful things including ultimately a diagnosis (jawbone cavitation) and treatment (dental surgery with a biological dentist) was only possible because I had money to pay out of pocket and a sense of entitlement that enabled me to persist and confront in the face of ignorance. I had some bad dental care as a very coddled middle class kid who saw a dentist regularly and even had braces. People get sick and die from dental issues that so many cannot afford. And I won’t get started here on the outrage of mercury poisoning brought to you by the American Dental Association. That’s another topic. I just want to point out that class issues and poverty in this country can mean life or death.

  • Kyran

    I haven’t had time to read all of the comments to see if someone else has picked up on it, but the most of the items relating to health care are very US-centric.

    Countries with nationalised health care tend not to have those problems, or at least don’t signify someone’s class?

  • Kawamura T.

    10 false. Growing up in Japan, meat was terribly expensive, but my Granpa would bring home mackerel (fishing in a friend’s boat) and we’d otherwise have frozen veggies, eggs and rice. A mochi cake or any other sweets were rare. However, I now live in California, where this is definitely true. American privilege: Assuming the entire world’s just like America.

    • pimpom

      Yes yes yes yes yes yes & BINGO.
      If I were a nitpicky whinger I could say this is neo-colonialism. Exporting of your country’s particular issues and looking at the whole world through the frame they have created. And especially, feeling that the whole world should be offended by the same things you are, and in the same manner. PAH! I say ;-)

  • John Novak

    Oh and all those hate crimes the conservatives complain about happening to white people? They’re actually hate crimes against poor people. Poor white people don’t get attacked for being white. They get attacked for being poor. If the people attacked in the 1992 LA riots were stockbrokers or lawyers, they wouldn’t be forced to work at corner stores in the inner city, where they would be attacked. Instead they would’ve been safe inside their office buildings.

  • Ana

    I don’t see why so many middle class people are getting defensive. Just see what you have and be grateful. This list is true for everyone I know in the working class. Life has been extremely difficult and it seems that the middle class are in the dark about this. It is good to know that you are not alone in a world where the middle class and working class tend to blend in on the outside. It is truly a struggle to get sick and keep hoping that it gets better rather than being able to just go to the doctor. Don’t get offensive if you’re part of the middle class, just be grateful. You just sound like spoiled brats.

  • Michelle Sarabia

    You walk into a neighborhood public building or store and are surrounded by your cultural and religious symbols, music, etc.; you see this as natural, and don’t understand why others feel excluded, unwelcome, and/or imposed upon.

  • Ko

    You own a credit card for emergencies.
    It’s the Fall and you as a parent do not feel a pain in your stomach about feeding your family and celebrating the holidays due to lack of money.

  • William Snobbington

    This is all b.s. only self consumed a-holes worry about these things. What would a sodomizing pedo know about class? Dressing up like women and making fudgie sticks on the weekends. Lock him up and keep the children safe!

  • RectPropagation

    “Regardless of the season, you can count on being able to fall asleep in a room with a comfortable temperature.”

    500+ heat related deaths and 600+ hypothermia related deaths occur every year. I don’t think enough people appreciate the weight of this particular privilege.

    Here’s some more:
    If you have children, people will not assume that it was for money/benefits.

    You do not live in a food desert.

  • pooper




  • E

    We have problems too, but this list helped remind me that I have a lot to be grateful for even thought this finals week has been absolutely hellish. Realizing how many of my problems are first world problems is a great way to reduce stress a bit.

  • Caitlin_Buelt

    I find it interesting that Sam chose to group the middle class and upper class together. A similar demonstration of the privilege and differences the “established middle class” and upper class have over what most people consider the middle class. By “established middle class”, I mean the multigenerational-college-educated, well-cultured demographic that most would consider “upper middle class”, the “urban middle class” or even just upper class. The demographic that is sort of the antithesis of the nouveau riche. The type you’ll find on Chicago’s north shore and in similar neighborhoods in cities all across the country. Private school is a norm, they support the arts, are truly well-educated and cultured, may be members of a country club, and often live in older, long-time established middle-class areas in close proximity to the upper class. They had household help in the past, and many still do. Many would argue these people are the true middle class, at least culturally.

  • Irishboy

    You have or expected to inherit jewerly or property from a parent or grandparent (does not include non direct linage as other realtives may had a different upbringing and lifestyle)

  • blakk

    You can get strangers to put their lips on your butt.

    You can own large pets

    You can get away with crimes (affluenza)

    Being bilingual means your educated not illegal

    You can place your penis in electrical sockets in public to earn the respect of political interest groups

    You can get surgery and use the best skin care products

    You can afford whole foods products and safer organic cleaning products

    You can finger a dying chickens ass and place it in a dry cleaner

  • Annie Kate Murray

    If your pet gets sick, you can chose to pay for the nececary surgeries to keep them alive and part of your family, instead of being forced to put them down to end their suffering.

  • Zeino

    When you co-opt someone else’s work without giving credit no one bats an eye.

  • E. Sanchez

    This might sound like a white whine, but please read to the end, or at least skip to the end. This is not meant to dismiss the fact that wealthy people have a leg-up, but rather to give a perspective that

    “People don’t assume you’ve made an active choice to be in your social class, but instead assume you’re working to improve it.”

    No, they just assume that we’re lazy, spoiled, and will never have to work for anything in our lives. No one ever considers that some parents make an effort not to spoil their children and that some people see their privilege as an opportunity to be a good steward and use it to help others have opportunities. In my community, it’s considered a moral transgression to give anything less than 10% of one’s PRE-TAX income to charity.

    Then we’re taxed another 50%. Then we get no financial aid at college. Lots of people would be better off financially if their income were more than cut in half. That being said, I am grateful for my ability to take out loans. Although they scare me, a lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to do that.

    “You can advocate for your class to politicians and not have to worry about being seen as looking for a handout.”

    No, we’re just accused of being greedy, hoarding all the nation’s wealth, and hating the poor. Few people are wealthy enough just to donate surreptitiously to a politician or group; some of us have to vote and voice our fears, just like everyone else.

    “The “dream” of a house, a healthy family, and a solid career isn’t a dream at all, but simply a plan.”

    I’m afraid my children will inherit my health problems. Which brings me to the “not having to hope it’ll go away…”–that’s only true if there are treatments for one’s condition. Money can’t by everything.

    “Whenever you’ve moved out of your home it has been voluntary, and you had another home to move into.”

    Well, unless you’re like me, who had to move out because a neighbor molested me, but we knew he could hire better lawyers and it would just be he-said she-said. So we moved. Or all the victims of Katrina and other natural disasters. Or house fires. Or you lose your job and have to move cities to get another one. (That being said, those of us who have the money to move should be thankful that we do. Some people who lose their jobs are left stranded because they can’t afford to get to another city to look.)

    “You are never asked to speak for all members of your class.”

    No, other people do it for us with over-generalized, stereotyped, derogatory, and dismissive posts about “first world problems” and middle to upper class privilege.

    Rich people have problems, too. Not everything is about money. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and realize that I’ve had a leg-up, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to work hard. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had problems. No matter what class you are, you may have unique problems based on class, but more importantly, there are problems WE ALL FACE. Men and women who are sexually assaulted: that happens everywhere. Murdered friends? Everywhere. Mental illness, cancer, bullying, family tension, loved ones dying, feeling like you’ve failed a friend, feeling alone? Everywhere.

    We’re in this together, so let’s stop stereotyping and dismissing people based on their class, whether it’s upper or lower, and focus on helping each other as INDIVIDUALS with problems and hopes and fears and desires of their own.

  • gram parsons

    you can preach left wing ideals that you yourself never carry out yet you still feel no guilt and feel superior

  • pseuzieq

    You have a checking account.

  • Egghead

    Yep. That sounds just about right. A good sign of all that’s rotten and stinks about this country. Fighting racism and inequality everywhere else while it sits on your doorstep is not sense to me; or am I missing something.

    A good example of this stink can be seen in that classic 1970s tv comedy series, George & Mildred. Nothing has changed!

  • Dayne

    We use jacuzzis instead of ordinary tubs

  • Alanna Muir

    When we tap our VISA or debit card at the checkout aisle, we’re not worrying if the card’s going to be declined for insufficient funds.


    You never ever have to Rent to own anything.


    You never have to worry about paying basic utilities or other bills. You do not fear having enough money saved for retirement. You pay a little extra toward your federal, state and local taxes so you never owe money when filing a return. You read books and articles about the plight of the working poor to keep in the loop, remain humble and compassionate. You budget based on broad estimates of anticipated spending not counting each item based on fixed per item prices. You can miss getting paid one full paycheck and still pay all bills due in the month. You can lend $100 to a close friend without needing the money PAID BACK IN 30 DAYS!



  • Exhausted

    I’m white middle class, working 50+ hours a week, and can’t meet my financial or health expectations. I pay 25% of my income in taxes to fund infrastructure and social programs while my teeth crack, eye fail, house disappears around me, and student loan debt grows. If one class is overworked and underpaid, it is the white middle class.

  • Meatworld

    You don’t hate/resent pinterest, but rather think, how can I get that or make that without regard to how it will impact the rest of your budget – i.e. giving up eating out or buying more clothes. (On average)

  • It’s spelled Ridicule dumbas*

    While you’re all carrying on with pretentious ignorance, laughing at those u THINK you’re above, those poor folks are using this opportunity to catch up lol If you’re feeling like you’ve “made it” because you know your electric is paid & you have a car (& doctor) trust that you’re not too far from the comfort of knowing you’ve completed a food stamp application, picked up your monthly bus pass “whoo-hoo!” & the electric is company fixed the street light finally so tonight will be safe (r) to walk to the dope house. It’s hardly time to take a break yet & u definitely haven’t earned any right to talk “cash shit” being pretentious is ugly. And another thing, it’s spelled “ridicule” genius.

  • KitKat

    Go fuck yourself. You think just because I’m middle class that I have privilege? Oh really? Is middle class privilege crying over the fact that you can’t attend the college you want because they didn’t give you enough financial aid? Is middle class privilege having to settle for a college you had no intention of going to while your “poorer” friends got tons of financial aid money and are going to be attending their dream schools? You have no idea what living middle class is like, so shut the fuck up.