Pride in Being Working-Class

Here is an update of our working-class support group.

The first meeting seemed to get off to a rocky start. However, the group thought that what I did was inspirational leadership, and that's the reason I'm going to tell you what happened.

The evening started off with everyone laughing and getting acquainted. Most were having fun. I was mostly nervous about this first meeting of a group which I had made a long-term commitment to lead.

Part way into the meeting, when it came time for me to speak about theory, I realized I felt like I couldn't get everyone to want to listen, and I was getting tense. I spoke to the group and told them just what was happening to me. I felt like I couldn't think at all at this point.

It was decided that someone needed to step in and counsel me. (Now I was feeling like I was the leader, and I should be counseling them.) Roberta Candy, our Area Reference Person, counseled me on how hard it feels for a person of my deep-rooted working-class background to step forward and announce herself as a leader.

I believe that the reason more working-class people, especially those without a college education, like me, are afraid to do any kind of leadership is because we feel like we can't think and do what needs to be done. For me it has seemed easier if someone would just tell me what to do; then I could just go and do the job. Leadership is not like that. Leadership requires a good deal of figuring out what to do and then going forward to implement your thinking.

That first meeting was so frightening that I thought of giving up the idea of leading the support group altogether. If left all on my own, I would have done just that. I would have given up altogether. But where better to get support to lead on working-class liberation than at a working-class support group?

My goal is to not have this happen again. However, it was good to model leading while feeling like it's impossible.

The second meeting went a lot easier for me because I had gotten over some of my fear due to discharging on what was getting in my way of being able to think clearly.

We have had a few more meetings, but because of the severe winter we had on the East Coast, several meetings were canceled. The meetings we did have seemed to go well. Our last meeting for the season will be at the end of May, thus completing an approximately one-year cycle.

After years of denying myself my working-class roots, I'm glad that I turned the corner and decided to be proud of my background. By denying my past, I was denying a part of myself. Part of the reason I denied my past was that I got caught up in trying to live a middle-class existence. I failed at that project because it wasn't who I am. I wanted to be seen as a middle-class person. The working class, with all its hardships, is very good. It's a good class to be identified with.

This support group consists of all women. It's important for women to be identified with the working-class liberation movement, as well as men, because women have been doing the work of the world for a long time, too.

Marsha Branik
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00