Race and Class

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Ed's picture
Joined: 1-10-03
Jun 3 2004 12:21
Race and Class

I've been thinking recently about this and it has been bugging me a fair bit. Out of all my mates, it's only my white and Asian friends (but Asians less than whites) who consider themselves working class. Pretty much all my black friends (be they West Indian or African) don't consider themselves working class.

This isn't because they're not. They definately are working class (live on council estates, claim benefits, never in regular employment etc) but they just don't see themselves like that.

This reminded me of an interview I read with 50 Cent where he said that "if a working class person said they're 'Gonna Get Rich or Die Tryin' you say they're determined. If a street person says it, you say they're crazy". My reaction to this was "You muppet, street people ARE working class!" But it's not like his view is isolated. My black mates call themselves everything from ghetto to gutter to povertised (our own word, we know it ain't real) but never working class. My white and Asian mates use all those words.

So why do people think this is? I've got my own (unclear) thoughts but I've gotta leave now to meet some mates (Latinas - both say they're working class). red n black star

Joined: 16-03-04
Jun 3 2004 17:09

smile John Prescott still calls himself the Working Class man grin

Joined: 14-01-04
Jun 3 2004 20:41

Maybe when you're in a discriminated against minority, it's less easy to see things in terms of the class system. Since black people are overwhelmingly working class, and it's just a few who're in the upper classes, it's probably more difficult to see yourself as a member of a particular class in the whole social structure of things. That's just a guess though, it would be a good issue to raise awareness on.

JoeMaguire's picture
Joined: 26-09-03
Jun 4 2004 11:53

By and large the concept of multi-culturlaism was designed to create clientel politics between the state and various ethnic groups, through many social/political programs the state as craftly engineered a niche for a well placed ethnic group.

If I remember Tariq Ali wrote something in article about how it was no coincidence the last two spokes-people for the US foreign office (or US equivolient) have been a jew (albright) and a black person (powell). So really it could be that your black friends just have a poor conciousness in terms of their place in society, but then thats rife amoungst white people aswell....

Joined: 19-09-03
Jun 5 2004 22:47

Ok, race & class ( ia m having REAL problems spelling at the moment, took me 3 tries to do that ! so excuse me from here out)...

From an Americans point of view... and in turn my pinion, my white male opinon on the matter.

The racist assholes in the states are woprking class, or appear working class (much like here) and obviously so.

Where as the equally racist but less obviously are middle + class.

So why associate yourself with the people you view as racist whether you are actually the same class as them or not?

If someone disluikes you, you won't (esp if your non political) look too deep into the class relations.

well I wouldn't...

Its is however different from a white persons POV, because I have had plenty of hassle from Working Class oflk, but I have been accepted by just as many and have had regular access to white people, so I know that its a stupid ignorance thing and not a stupid white person thing.

That make sense?

Jun 6 2004 15:03

I think part of it has to be the historical racism of sections of the white working class movement.

Far from all of the working class movement, like the IWW, but mainstream unions, like the American Federation of Labor, used to have a strict segregationist policy. Or down south (and even in the auto industry in detroit) tons of industry was unionized, but on racial lines. So blacks were flat-out excluded from sections of the working class movement.

Yeah, and it's not rich black folk controlling the world, it's white men. Being white, i'll try not to pretend too much, but slavery turned into ghettoized poverty and de facto segregation would make me see things more on racial than class divisions.

Joined: 4-10-03
Jun 10 2004 18:53

Sometimes I think you can get really bogged down in discussions about class and 'self-identity' ie.how people perceive themselves.

I have recently read an article by the Italian autonomist Sergio Bologna-

a historical article about workers councils- where he mentions that very often debates about class-consciousness are inconclusive and so instead he deals with real examples of where workers councils were set up to analyze the actual behaviour of the groups involved and looks at their composition ie.who was involved and what they did, to see what lessons can be drawn from these examples.

In terms of the people I know not directly interested in politics most of them don't seem to see themselves generally as being part of any class.

Here's an example; of the ethnic minorities I work with most don't like the management and may refer to themselves as 'slaves' but at other times see themselves as a cut above the newly arrived immigrants or say how much they love the Royals-at times they see themselves as workers/at times a cut above the rest! Yet another inconclusive example about class and 'self-identity'!

Jun 12 2004 10:57

it's a pipe dream thinking everyone has right on politics, man, where they identify as part of some struggling underclass....

it's not about learning to identify as someone, i'm just saying people are born into conditions unavoidable, white privilege, black (or white) underclass...identity politics are unavoidable. there are a few exceptions like condoleeza rice or you know, that black guy at my work, yeah he's working with white people, racism is a thing of the past....

i'm talking about the bigger picture. yeah of course there's shitloads more white people who are fucked over than rich white people, it's not an obvious white-black thing in society....hate too throw out bullshit terms if i could avoid them, but that whole institutional racism thing has a point going for itself....

if you don't think identity politics are important, why did black power groups exclude white from their groups, not because they were racist or thought whites didn't know how to organize, but because they just couldn't function properly with them for a million different reasons.

as that old lady said from her window as i was walking around my friend's neighborhood,

"better watch out white boy, you gonna get shot..."