Thursday, September 11, 2008


The last full post from my Quaker blog, from July 8, 2008:

So I've been spending some time working through Jeanne's Social Class and Quakers blog. Not every entry, but trying to get a feeling of where she's coming from.

And I keep getting really ticked off.

Now I like Jeanne, from what I know of her. I like the idea of confronting the cultural claptrap that has nothing to do with the central messages of Quakerism, but which tags along when a group of people from a similar background get together...

No, what gets me specifically is class. I feel like I've specifically tried for much of my life to simultaneously be true to what I am (overeducated, wordy, stuck-in-my-head) and to not get stuck in any class. And not to do the same to other folks. And here I am being labeled "owner class."

I fit the image. I shop at the co-op, read the NY Times, listen to NPR, vote the Democratic ticket... I remember after a long season hopping around doing this and that after moving back to the cities, walking with Ingrid into the Wedge Co-op and breathing in. "Ahh, my people!" I think I said to Ingrid at the time.

But I still rebel at the idea of class. I hate it because it's not a choice. It's like caste in its implications: you were born into it and you will be it until you die. I reject that. I want what I am not to be somehow "symptomatic."

I don't want to be a "type."

Class as such seems too simple. Talking about "owner class" feels like talking about "Black Americans" as if all people descended from African slaves have some gene that makes them all think alike, or for that matter about "Quakerly behavior." Jeanne posed the query of what exactly we mean by that in her latest post.

When I think about "people like me" I think a lot more specifically than "raised with family funds to support me." Specifically, I find myself alienated from people who don't like questions, or who only like safe, cute, or banal expression, or for whom bigger is better. It is a smallish subset of owner class folk who meet that description, and indeed there are plenty of well-educated poor folk who also meet that description.

I clearly need to write up the story of the Tattoo-Rhumba Man. Soon.

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