Chapter 6 Summary
In this chapter, Eddo-Lodge explores the relationship between race and class. As a writer and speaker, she is frequently asked the question: “What about class?”
The idea of class is “integral” to British culture, and most British people see themselves as being part of one of three classes: the working class, middle class, or upper class. These categories of class, however, have become increasingly blurred and irrelevant due to societal changes. The lines are further skewed by how class can often reflect a particular mindset rather than an economic reality. In 2016, a survey of British “social attitudes” revealed that sixty percent of British people viewed themselves as working-class, even if they were “actually in managerial or professional jobs.”
Another survey, the Great British Class Survey, revealed that there were “not just three classes, but seven.” This survey included information about the race of those who participated, revealing that “most people of colour [are found] in the emergent service workers’ group.”
Reviewing these surveys, Eddo-Lodge notes, “Not only does the three-tiered class hierarchy no longer really exist, but it looks like existing race inequalities are compounded rather than erased by class inequalities.”
Eddo-Lodge points out that there is a higher percentage of people of color living in income poverty compared to White British people. Political budgets, such as the 2015 summer budget, often have a disproportionately negative impact on people of color.
A 2007 report further demonstrated the connection between race and class. According to the report, Black men had higher rates of unemployment, and types of work—from retail to healthcare to the food industry—were often divided along racial lines.
While most British people accept the impact of class on an individual’s life, the impact of race and racism is usually denied. “Instead, when we think about inequality,” Eddo-Lodge explains, “we are encouraged to think of both race and class as distinct and separate. They’re not.”
London’s housing crisis has highlighted the need to analyze class and inequality. In response to the crisis, government regeneration plans have been introduced in areas such as the London district of Tottenham. While they appear to be a timely solution, various groups have begun to “question who exactly the new housing in Tottenham would benefit.” To many activists, it seemed that the changes would not benefit low-income households, the majority of whom were Black; instead, the focus on “affordable home ownership” would likely squeeze out Black households and benefit White households.
In Haringey, an area marked as “one of the most unequal places in England and Wales,” some of the most vulnerable residents—such as single Black mothers—were “being pushed into precarious living situations.” When pressed by Eddo-Lodge, the only solution the Haringey Council could suggest was the “unrealistically ambitious” solution of increasing household incomes. Essentially, this “placed the onus on black residents to increase their income.” By “building housing out of reach for the working-class people . . . it was out of reach for black people.”
For many, the idea of a working-class person brings to mind a white man. Politicians have added the word “White”—referencing “the White working class”—to strengthen this idea of a disadvantaged group of White workers. Doing this “suggests that these people face structural disadvantage because they are white, rather than because they are working class.”
This perception strengthens fears of “reverse racism” and positions immigrants as competition to the White working class. The idea that immigrants are the source of problems for White people simply isn’t logical. Poverty existed long before immigrants began arriving in Britain, and if all immigrants left the country, there is no evidence that “life would get any...
(The entire section is 986 words.)