1. I didn't say, and have never said, that "it's not about race," or any such thing. That's an offensive statement. Of course it's about race, and it's about sex, and it's about sexual orientation. It's just also about class, and many other things that need to be attended to.
2. Achieving social justice is not a zero sum game. Saying "so you were inspired by a post about white straight men's privilege to talk about white straight men's problems?", and playing other cute games of critical footsie, suggests that these are either/or problems. As I said in that post, I truly believe, on a practical and theoretical level, that these problems can only be meaningfully addressed together. I am completely uninterested in trying to rank some sort of hierarchy of suffering. It's theoretically useless, and politically ruinous. Setting black people against queer people against gay people against poor people against Jewish people, etc., is exactly the method of status quo power. And it is a game that guarantee that all of them lose.
3. You have to understand: an awful lot of good people have never been substantially exposed to poverty in their lives. For them, poverty lives in fleeting moments at the street corner and on the subway. I'll never forget the most clarifying, depressing day I ever had of reading and thinking about education. That was the day I realized that so many of the people who argue about education policy on the national stage literally have never been exposed to educational failure. By that I mean that they have all the demographic advantages that contribute to educational success, went to private elementary schools and elite high schools and Ivy League colleges, and never experienced seeing someone else struggling and failing at school. After I really grokked that, so many things made sense, and so much of my hopes for a better discourse on education died.
It's the same with poverty. Many of them simply can't comprehend that pain, and unlike with racism and sexism and homophobia, there is not nearly the social pressure on them to acknowledge it. (This phenomenon is self-replicating.) So there's a kind of oblivious callousness there, one driven by ignorance more than by malicious intent. I grew up in a town with an elite private college there. The students by and large had, to me, enlightened politics, fiercely opposed to sexism and racism and homophobia. But many of them (and forgive me for painting with a broad brush) simply could not have been more wrongheaded when it came to class. They'd fight against injustice from afar, but wouldn't hesitate to chew out a waiter because their pancakes were too thin. "Townie" is the slur you keep in your pocket after a couple of semesters of cultural studies.
I've been exposed to poverty, professionally, working in a public school and for an inner city YMCA in Chicago and with a literacy program. And to those who simply don't like to hear talk of white people's problems, I can only confess: I take this stuff seriously. White poverty matters to me, and I consider ending it no less a part of our public duty. There is pain out there that I can hardly fathom, with all of the usual baggage and complication that comes with any such entrenched oppression and neglect. Including the tangled web of considering the subaltern and how and why and why not to speak for them.
That's the long and the short of it. I know anyone with a subscription to n+1 and an Internet connection can find ample theoretical trouble with all of this. I just really don't give a shit.