“I’m still learning to stop pretending. Every year I feel a little bit bolder about just being who I really am. There’s a lot I cherish about my own class culture. Poor and working-class people-my family included-are incredibly resourceful and creative, out of necessity. We value people. We don’t take friendship lightly. We know how to be there for each other. And compared to my middle-class partner and friends, I’m far less likely to assume authorities are right.”
“Ultimately, it’s the difference in the underlying realities, and not the difference in the reactions to Ferragamos, that is most important. I have to wonder– if a pair of shoes can have such a wide span of meaning to people across the class spectrum, how can health care, or education, or democracy itself mean the same thing to people on opposite sides of wealth chasm? As a country, are we even in the same conversation?”
“Then something interesting happened. A girl at my daughter’s school joined our troop. She turned out to be a Girl Scout at the private school girls had met at summer camp and really liked. Everyone liked her. She was working class, living with a single dad in a rough neighborhood and attending a grassroots evangelical church– the kind where you find lots of bikers. She was a lovely girl– not at all quiet, but not wild, either. She became a bridge. The private school girls loved her. The public school girls liked her fine. She brought them together somehow. I still don’t understand any of it.”
“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…I saw the way people would look through me, as if I were invisible. Fortunately, my adversity beckoned forth my innate fortitude, a power bequeathed me by my upbringing in Haiti, that catapulted me like a meteor streaking across the sky to achieve what I though was impossible, the American dream as it pertains to me: becoming a published writer.”
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