A Working Class Academic
Thankyou Agnes from Carpenters Estate speaking at a Focus E15 Meeting Jan 2019
I am Working Class
When I say I’m working class, I’m not describing an identity, I’m not explaining a social position, I don’t say this because I need others to place me. I live in Britain, I am a working class woman, I don’t have to tell people this because we place each other, we read each other, and I have always been read as working class.
Being working class isn’t an identity I wear in order to get funding, or a free place at a seminar, my type of working class doesn’t get these things anyway, my type of working class has come through experience and a history that has been passed down to me by generations, my values, how I see and think about the world is knowledge that has been shared with me by mother, by her mother, by her mother and her mother before her, my dad, my granddad and so on, by Mrs Bell my next door neighbour who looked after me when I was a child and her collective knowledge, being working class to me is about power, history, and experience. Being working class is about the relationship a group of people have with other groups of people, looking at each other and seeing that pain, but in turn having others look at you as ‘other’ and not one of them.
When I say I am working class it is a deep feeling of love and pain, pride and shame, it’s not an individual feeling about me, it’s a collective feeling about us. When I see and hear other working class people being abused or hurt, when they are subjected to symbolic violence, it hurts me.
This collective knowledge isn’t about nostalgia, and the past, its about the past the present and the future, a pain I inherited and a pain I have passed on. Working class people are hurt from the day they are born, even before they are born, questions are asked about our inception,