Monday, September 04, 2006

Class and race

The specific part of London where I live seems predominately white and well-off. Despite there being several housing estates nearby, the people who live there are practically invisible unless the kids are making a noise, and then they only attract negative attention. The local shops which we are so keen to keep in business (a butcher's, green-grocers, cheese shop and delicatessen) are quite simply unaffordable to half the people on the street.

I am personally poor (claiming benefits - cheers Soopermouse) but live in this area with someone who does earn decent money. Despite going to the Jobcentre I don't feel I belong with the poorer community, and it isn't just my living arrangements; it's a mentality. Because I didn't grow up in a council house but with well off parents in the country, I feel I belong more with the richer people in the area, buying things I can't afford being one of the consequences. In this way, class divisions are much more than just personal circumstances. The snobbery I feel (and I do) towards people of a "lower" class is a direct result of my upbringing, and no amount of Jobcentre visits will make me feel like "one of them". It's hard, but I hope not impossible, to shake these attitudes off.

Speaking of lovely Jobcentre visits, I would say that over 90% of signers are people of colour. Also, of the people who work there, only about 10% are white. This JC is just at the bottom of the road in the area that I described as "predominately white". The same colour ratio is seen on buses, which are still considered a poor form of transport.

I haven't thought enough about class as it pertains to people of colour, probably because I'm white, but I found this link about whether or not there is a rising "black middle-class" and whether or not it matters anyway. I know one black man who indentifies himself as "middle-class", and he appears only to associate with white people. Funny though, most white people I know do not like describing themselves as middle-class. People are keen to get rid of labels, which is a good thing, but whatever we call ourselves the underlying structure will remain.

I haven't come to any conclusions here; this post is observational. I hope to think and learn more about these issues by listening to people, reading, and examining my attitudes and behaviour. I'm looking forward to reading the other posts (Listed at


Blogger Bea said...

I'm glad you're able to make those observations and are prepared to think about that sort of stuff. I've also been looking for information and have found some great writing on the subject of class and classism.

8:03 PM  
Blogger spotted elephant said...

You made excellent points. People view class as a "where you are now" snapshot, but it really is a mentality learned in childhood-no matter how much it no longer fits.

5:54 PM  
Blogger said...

No, class isn't about a state of mind.

Your class is determined by whether or not you are forced to sell your labour power in order to survive.

If you do, you're working class.
If not, then you're not.

Simple as.

11:28 PM  

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