“Even more important is my awareness, late in coming, that the background that seemed so humiliating in those days can be a source of strength and self-respect. To be sure, I have learned to speak a new language, an educated language that my family does not share or even understand; yet the working-class culture I came from is also a part of me, by far the most formative piece of all.”
“What I did not realize then was that my childhood games highlighted the socioeconomic class difference between me and my peers. This did not dawn on me as a child and evaded me up until I entered college. In fact, I do not think I had ever heard the term “socioeconomic class” before the spring of my first year of undergraduate study.”
“If I ask myself when I first became aware of class or, specifically, of the class to which I belonged, I realize that I had not one epiphany, by rather several. The reality of my working-class childhood would crystalize, only to be forgotten (or repressed) again. I could not hold on to an identity as someone who grew up in the working class until I could talk and write about my experiences from people from working class.”
“When I think about the educational institutions I chose to attend, it is clear to me that social class played a significant role in my decisions. My worldview and understanding of what was possible for me were limited by my family’s expectations and my lack of exposure to life beyond my small town…Lacking the guidance of college-educated parents, I just didn’t understand the importance of academic pedigree.”
“As a professor of higher education, I teach classes on social class equity in higher education and advocate for institutions of higher learning to better support the needs of low-income students. It is validating for me to give conference presentations and talk with my students in my diversity in higher education class about the need for university administrators to see social class as the third leg for diversity trinity, next to race and gender.”
“Because of my family background, I am aware that when I make a statement like “I’m broke,” it doesn’t mean the same as when someone who is impoverished says it. Even when I have periodic anxieties about my money management skills, I am reassured by the fact that I have good credit, credit cards, money in my savings account, and a monthly income that covers my bills with room to spare.”
“While I can be eloquent on how higher education continues to exclude folks of color, I rarely focused on how the academy (and my role in it) mirrors America’s larger class divide. In less than two minutes, this young, white, working-class woman had uncomfortably reminded me that many of the same invisible barriers that confront studentsof color in the ivory tower also persist for today’s white, low-income, and working-class students.”
“A common stereotype about working-class people is that, unlike middle-class people, they do not value higher education. And there is some truth to the stereotype. Working-class people know they need to take care of themselves: education should be practical and pragmatic; it should be aimed toward getting a job and making a steady income.”
During the time of my illness and homelessness, I felt like "those people" I'd been warned about, as if being mentally ill and homeless were a contagious disease and that those afflicted must have done something wrong to put themselves in that position.
- Jacques Fleury
Dad seldom trusted anyone with a college degree. He took great pleasure in using colorful words to describe political and cultural elites who manipulate the nation. Those words lurk beneath the surface of my middle-class ways.
- Dwight Lang