Words on Wealth: Wisdom from my Students, Volume 1

Most of the students I teach have had very different lives from my own. I am constantly learning from them, and this year, I have learned to see glimpses of myself through their eyes. I am sharing (with the permission of the speakers) conversations that I have overheard in hopes that you will gain insight from reading of their perspective. These are written transcriptions of spoken conversations. I have attempted to be true to the voice and grammar of the speakers as I reconstruct them from memory.

I intend to share these stories as a series with very little commentary. I think the wise words of my students should be allowed to speak for themselves.


“You know they rich. They have a laundry room. A whole room- just for laundry. My house don’t even have a washer, and they have a whole room for laundry. It’s big, too: you could put a bed in there if you wanted to.”
“They have an extra bedroom, too. I asked whose that room was, and she said, ‘It’s nobody’s.’ I asked her what she means by that, and she said it’s for when guests come spend the night. I said, ‘We have an air mattress for guests, we don’t have no room just for guests.'”
“I looked in they freezer, and they had four things of ice cream in there. Blue Bell, too. They said I could have however much I wanted. You know I had some ice cream.”

Wait a second. My parents have a laundry room, and I have my own washer and dryer. Does that mean I’m rich? What about you? By this metric, are you rich? Do you consider yourself to be wealthy?

Birthday Parties

“She said she’s poor because she ain’t never had a movie theater birthday party. She don’t get it. That’s not poor. Poor is never even being invited to a movie theater party because you don’t know anybody who can afford one. That’s poor.”

Is one only poor if they have no wealthy friends?


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