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Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor for the Clinton Administration, is an expert on social policy and class in America. Robert says that a family's ability to provide their children with a quality education, health care and access to other resources determines one's class. "A lot of kids who are poor or working class are not getting the schools that they need and are not having the connections and the models of success that they need."

Robert says there are three common indicators of class: weight, teeth and dialect. In terms of appearance, people who are overweight or have poor teeth are generally regarded as lower class. The way someone talks says even more about their class. "People pay attention to dialect, to language," says Robert. "If you have the local dialect, wherever you're from, you're considered to be not as educated."

These class designators also lend themselves to their own kind of discrimination. "People speak different forms of English and there is prejudice," says Robert. "We have sexism in this country, we have racism, but we also have classism—and we are very sensitive to language."
FROM: What Class Are You? Inside America's Taboo Topic
Published on April 21, 2006