A few days ago, while casually scrolling through TikTok as part of my post-long-day wind-down ritual, an interview on ‘class’ with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie popped up on my screen. This occurrence wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, given my algorithm’s preferences. However, during those brief minutes, she shared words that resonated profoundly within me, prompting me to confront a truth that is often sidelined.
“Class is the thing that most shapes people’s lives,” she said.
…that statement struck a chord.
Class? Not religion, not culture, but class?
At first, I was skeptical. How could class be the defining factor? Aren’t our identities deeply intertwined with our cultural backgrounds and personal beliefs? Yet, as she spoke, I found myself reflecting on the validity of her statement. It wasn’t about dismissing the other factors that shape us; it was about recognizing that class wields immense influence over our lives, often in ways we remain unaware of or deliberately choose to ignore.
In a world where social mobility feels like an elusive dream for many, where opportunities are often dictated by economic circumstances, the impact of class becomes increasingly difficult to deny. Education, job prospects, access to healthcare – all these aspects of life can be significantly influenced by the social class we belong to. While we might celebrate the stories of individuals who rise above their circumstances, it’s essential to acknowledge the systemic hurdles they had to overcome.
However, it’s intriguing that discussions about class remain relatively muted. It’s like an unspoken reality that underlies our interactions, subtly affecting our perceptions and judgments. Richard Wolff’s term, “repressed discourse,” aptly captures the notion. We’re surrounded by evidence of class distinctions, yet we’re hesitant to broach the topic openly.
Why is it so challenging to discuss class? Perhaps it’s because doing so serves as a reminder of the inequalities ingrained in our society – inequalities that can be uncomfortable to confront. It’s easier to focus on individual success stories than to address the broader structural issues perpetuating disparity.
But here’s the real kicker – what are we going to do about it? How can we ensure that everyone gets a fair shot, unencumbered by their socioeconomic backgrounds? Is there a way to level the playing field, or are we forever locked in this dance of privilege and inequality?
You’re allowed to consider me naive for posing these seemingly unrealistic questions in the kind of world we live in, but this is genuinely how I feel.