One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog for SACA was because transferring to Smith this past year (from a community college in the Midwest) was really a crash course for me in class issues. That move was a big change filled with a lot of emotions and feelings I didn’t fully understand at the time. There were times where I felt alienated and inadequate and angry, but I couldn’t necessarily point to a particular instance that would explain why I was feeling these things. Through a supportive faculty member I was able to find out about SACA, and through getting to know everyone in the group I began to grasp that I was not alone-what I was going through was because of my class position in an elite academic environment. To make a long story short, I began to form a critical class consciousness that I’m still working on today.

Forming a critical consciousness is a process, and sometimes living experiences makes things too familiar to understand in an objective way. Here we want to create a sort of online resource center for people going through these kinds of experiences or just looking to learn more about social class. A few weeks ago I started reading bell hooks’ where we stand: class matters, a book of essays that covers a lot of different topics, including feminism and class power and the ways in which class and race intersect.

In the second essay,  “Coming to Class Consciousness”, hooks discusses her experiences as a undergraduate and graduate student. One particular passage better articulates the thoughts and emotions that many working-class students like myself experience while in academia:

…Slowly I began to understand fully that there was no place in academe for folks from working-class backgrounds who did not wish to leave the past behind. This was the price of the ticket. Poor students would be welcome at the best institutions of higher learning only if they were willing to surrender memory, to forget the past and claim the assimilated present as the only worthwhile and meaningful reality.

Students from nonprivileged backgrounds who did not want to forget often had nervous breakdowns. They could not bear the weight of all the contradictions they had to confront. They were crushed. More often than not they dropped out with no trace of their inner anguish recorded, no institutional records of the myriad ways their take on the world was assaulted by an elite vision of class and privilege. The records merely indicated that even after receiving financial aid and other support, these students simply could not make it, simply were not good enough.[…] I finished my education with my allegiance to the working class intact. Even so, I had planted my feet on the path leading in the direction of class privilege. There would always be contradictions to face. There would always be confrontations around the issue of class. I would always have to reexamine where I stand.

And so this blog was made to record our experiences in the world, the transformation of our critical consciousnesses, and to let students going through similar experiences know they aren’t alone.

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