For fun I sometimes answers questions on Quora. How would you answer this one:

What is the difference between working class and middle class, if there is one?

Social Norm said something about planning, forethought and time. I thought maybe he was implying some of us just need to try harder. Maybe he’s right but doesn’t realize what he said.

Access, enculturation and context equate to different kinds of privilege. When we’re born into a particular class we receive access to the privileges and practices of that group. Crossing class boundaries requires a see-saw of acceptance and letting go through relationships, shifting ties and attempting to make new ones. Have you ever seen a crab try to leave a trap? All the other crabs rip at the body and limbs of the climber, usually until the climber is dead. Humans have the tools to be different from crustaceans but we don’t always use them. Why? Maybe evolution is like the remote. We’d rather lay there than reach. 

The crossing of boundaries or even gaining acceptance within our birth class are rooted in biology, genetics and the unspoken social contract. We need ‘the tribe’ for survival. If you want to hang with us you got to look, think, act, dress, believe, walk and talk just like us? Great…what if I don’t have legs? No soup for you! Survival for human beings requires us to meet biopsychosocial needs. I tried making soap. Hooray for fire extinguishers. We’re primitively wired to resist differences and condemn dissent to protect the collective ego. Where do you think you’re going? Are we not good enough for you? Who do you think you are? An emotionally evolved, awakened society would allow for more fluid transition between lifestyles with greater acceptance and no defenses. There are over 2000 Waffle Houses in the U.S but only one White House. Food for thought.

Dare to dream. I love you. Happy Friday xo

19 thoughts on “Class Notes

    • Thanks Hurrah! 🙂 The photo was taken locally and I love it too, haha. I’d love to hear stories about growing up in South Africa and I’d love to visit England. It’s where my drippy, pointy nose is from and it’s asked to go home many times. 🙂 (American mutt)

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    • Not necessarily. Many members of my extended family are working class but their income qualifies as Federal Poverty Level; these individuals and families are sometimes called ‘the working poor’. This is one of the reasons people have been advocating for minimum wage to be raised to $15; the living wage. Although if you’ve ever lived in low-income housing it’s doesn’t much feel like ‘living’ in my opinion. I dream of more for people.

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      • Ohhhhh right!
        We are considered middle class working family and yet my husband’s income still leaves us in medical debt!
        My husband was homeless so he knows about getting nothing. It is disheartening. At one point I was sleeping in my car and on food stamps and it was not enough to feed me and at that time I was barely eating anyway. The system….screwed!!!!
        I dream more for everyone too

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      • It can be disheartening. I’m sad to hear of the struggles you and your husband have faced and continue to face with regard to medical bills. I find hope in sharing our stories and advocating for change. You and your husband make a great team. ❤️

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  1. Interesting question. I’ve always thought of “working class” as people who “work” for a living, rather than managing or supervising other people. It could be a janitor or nurse, a roofer or hair stylist. And it doesn’t have much to do with income. Some middle managers make less than construction workers. “Middle class” I see as people who are neither rich nor poor, who are able to live comfortably within their means. They may not be able to afford everything they want, but they can afford everything they need, if they are healthy and not saddled with horrible medical bills. Even so they would probably consider themselves “middle class.” I think it’s more a feeling about where you stand in the world, your relative place on the poor to rich ladder, rather than an income level.

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Deborah. I’d agree that personal perception is key. Culture can prescribe us a position but ultimately it’s up to the individual to determine their reality.

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