As we’re living in unbelievable times, it comes as no surprise that a Reddit meme scheme raised awareness of the rigged game against the middle class. In an attempted “coup” against Wall Street, Redditors managed to raise the price of GameStop’s failing stock in order to fight hedge funds capitalizing off its demise. Today, however, the “short squeeze,” defined as when a stock’s price jumps to very high highs and very low lows, has just become another meme instead of a revolution. In the end, the losers were the everyday Joe’s who can’t seem to catch a break.
As I watched the madness, I realized that a class revolution would take much more work than a clever ruse. Growing up in Connecticut, I was never conscious of class until I got older and saw the reality of where I lived. I resided in the middle of two very different towns. Stuck between the richest people and the poorest, I saw how families in one town were forced to wait outside in freezing weather for food while nobody went hungry in the other.
I knew that the system was broken. If one looks all over the country, they’ll find that poverty is everywhere. However, theories about poverty and class didn’t radically change me; rather what radicalized me was working at the mobile food pantry where I had the opportunity to serve others.
I started working at the Connecticut Mobile Food Pantry not because I had to fulfill service hours for my school, but rather because my parents had engrained the act of serving others in me from a young age. Growing up, service gave me a sense of purpose.
At the pantry, I learned more about helping others than I did in school. With our hands sore and our feet frozen, we made decisions about whether to hand out or throw away rotten fruit and vegetables, which were not essential items like eggs or milk. Rarely was there fresh fruit that had not spoiled.
But people still took this food because they needed it. Working at the food pantry taught me that even in Connecticut’s richest counties, seldom does the money, or food, trickle down.
This unbelievable moment on Wall Street directly results from the pent-up anger of the middle class, but also from the growing class struggle in America. Stocks, however, do not help those waiting in the pantry line. With the worldwide pandemic causing the lines at food banks and shelters to grow, this isn’t the time to play games with people’s livelihoods. While the rich get a bailout, what would happen to those who wouldn’t? Would they still be waiting in line for spoiled fruits and vegetables?
There is a problem in America. Capitalism has never worked and is failing quicker than ever. Looking at our home away from home, Pratt Institute is located in Brooklyn, where poverty is seen around every corner. As students, we need to seriously ask ourselves what we are doing to further enrich our community. We need to band together instead of sit and soak in what privileges we have. No one is a lost cause if we turn around and start helping our fellow neighbors instead of ourselves.
Art by Noelani Fishman