The Lower Middle-Class vs. Subalterns


More from the trenches. In response to a comment about “making it” as the child of a single-teacher family and working as a medical student, I wrote:

“I’m not rich, didn’t come from money, and yet I am going to make it.”

It’s hereditary lower middle-class, though. My situation is just about dead-on, but while I’m working here — like you — to pay my way through my graduate degree, I am doing so in one hell of a rural stinkhole in Northern Florida. 

You . started off . well. 

The ones who need the financial aid are conditioned by a single-parent, multi-sibling household on income less than $14K. High-school dropouts fostering high-school dropouts. The occasional kid who shows potential can’t just work to get there, the cycle is endless – it just takes one mistake. Even if he or she gets a job, that money’s going back into the household. Because a community of parents are leeches and generationally adapted to a system of living wholly different from even the lowest middle-class, doesn’t mean that the kiddo shouldn’t be helped out of the quicksand if it looks like he or she’s worth it.


5 responses »

  1. I am helping a young man who emigrated from the Sudan and whose family was killed, strike that, slaughtered. With no support system and no money, he managed to cobble together students loans and a few scholarships and attend college. He graduated in December with an undergraduate degree in biology. In this tanking economy he cannot find a job, school loan repayment will be due soon, and half his non-existent income goes to his remaining extended family stuck in refugee camps.I cannot ever see him getting out of debt. Those school payments will hang like a millstone around his neck. He does not foresee ever being able to afford getting married or raising a family. Poor young man. The American Dream is expensive. And as he says, family obligations are keeping him awake at night.

  2. I need to amend my comment. This young man’s parents were slaughtered when he was 5 years old. He is one of the thousands of “Lost Boys” who trekked across the Sudan without food, water, shelter, or money looking for refuge. Though many of the parents and girls were killed during that first wave of genocide in the Sudan, thousands of young boys who were tending herds of cows and sheep in the fields managed to escape. Over half the boys died in that long walk. The survivors are known as Lost Boys. This young man still has his brothers and extended cousins, and this is the family he is obligated to help. Stuck in limbo in refugee camps, they imagine him to be a rich young man living a life of luxury in America. Hah!

    Getting a college degree was as proud a moment for him as receiving his U.S. citizenship, but he has never made more than minimum wage in his working life. Just imagine what this 40 K college debt hanging over his head is doing to the state of his ulcers.

    • That’s awful. I imagine then his student loans aren’t totally federal. If so, he can take a loan deferment based on economic hardship (that’s what I am doing!). I imagine that recession-era jobs will by necessity be service oriented and not in the upper sciences (unless he designs an artificial organ), but once out of it, I think he will have the resume to make it.

  3. You are right, Michael. I’ll remind him about the deferred payment. He is looking far afield for lab jobs. Too bad this recession hit just when he needed to look for work. I like this template for your blog, and like you I like Persuasion the most, though P&P will always hold a soft spot in my heart, since that book introduced me to JA.

    • I am long overdue for a template update, though. I haven’t changed my sidebar in several months. My first regional JASNA meeting of the year will be P&P (of course), so I was toying with the idea of taking a page from that grad. student reading Austen for the first time (I forget what his blog is: Reading Austen or something) and trying-out a chapter-by-chapter blog project.

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