Class 1C

Letter by Steve Whiting, Stevenage

I got a lot from your feature with Betsy Leondar-Wright (PN 2587) – so much that I’m reading her current book Missing Class, which I agree is brilliant (even though it does seem directed at a professional-middle-class readership!). This focus on class is for me long overdue in social change discussion – a big ‘ism’ that still needs to be opened up and worked with.

Coming from a working-class background, living in a working-class town, and working in a professional-middle-class environment, I guess Betsy would categorise me as a ‘straddler’. This enables me to recognise a lot of what she’s talking about – group behaviours and priorities, levels of confidence, throwaway remarks that reveal so much, amount of ‘air space’ in discussions, differences in humour, approaches to conflict, and attitudes to process, leadership and decision-making. I think that much of what she observes in US social justice groups applies similarly in the UK.

If we are serious about building effective social change movements, we know we must reach across our divisions of ethnicity, nationality, gender, faith/non-faith and the rest. Please let’s bring class into this, and link it to power within our groups and more generally.

We still have much to learn, and we’ve barely started. But first step is to name it, and this is what you’ve done with Betsy and class awareness. Hooray! Thank you for opening this up… and please keep her talking!