Instead this article is about the voices that have been silenced, because football has taken the forefront of concerns. Even though this institution will first listen to #firedavebrandon before #expelrapists, I will not. Even though the Board of Regents and University President sit in their cushioned lives so far removed from reality, I will not. Even though football wins are the dearest things to privileged white boys’ hearts, I will not write to please them more. I will not create yet another space through which they can dominate.


Maja Tosic

Now that I have turned away the very white men that will not be the subject of my article. Now that they have turned the page and closed the Internet tab. Now that they have stopped listening because this article doesn’t glorify them, let’s talk for real.

The reality is that so many of us are in pain. The silencing of our pain adds even more pain. It is assumed that we have an entered a college utopia where race, class, gender, sexual orientation and other identities don’t matter because everyone is simply human. But we are not all just human. We live in a realm where our identities shape our existence. They may warrant oppression, but they so also give color to our lives. They teach how us to love and bring us closer to one another. So don’t wash away our nuances by labeling us all as just human — a classless homogeneity. Doing so denies the many different ways people have connection to humanity.

The reality is that the pain that class causes is not discussed. We swim in the notion that the American Dream is real. We enter our university community believing it is an isolated bubble, and within it we become classless. There’s a belief stirring amongst us that as University students, we all have joined a melting pot where class differences do not exist — that being a University student is its own class category.

The reality is that there is a belief that class is invisible. A belief that class cannot be identified because it doesn’t mark us. But who is it actually invisible to? Working-class identity scars working hands. It creates wrinkles of worry. It causes rumbling stomachs. On the other end, class privilege creates smoothness, ease, comfort and fullness. Class is invisible only to those who have never had to look into their own reflection and see working-class bruises.

The reality is that some are consumed with worries while others will never have to experience them. A worry of how to pay tuition each semester. A worry of which to pick — paying rent or buying food. A worry of how to stay warm as winter worsens. A worry of how to stay on top of homework after working each day. A worry that being cash-poor will translate into laziness. A worry that “working class” will be soon be connected to lacking wealth of knowledge. A worry of having worry show in one’s eyes.

The reality is that this is not my reality. I do not have to worry about how to pay rent or tuition. I can pay each in full the day it is due. I do not work jobs alongside school to ensure that I can survive. As my mother says, I work part-time to save money for something nice. I do not worry what others will think when they correctly read my class identity. I do not worry.

The reality is that one can become aware of reality. Even though I do not have to worry, I bear the responsibility to discontinue the silencing of working-class individuals. The first step is for privileged folks to examine their own lives and the comfort they can afford. One does not have to seek painful narratives from others in order to understand class divisions. Each class category shapes individuals, so start by learning how you are shaped by your own identity. Let your heart expand with understanding and compassion. Then move through this world with an awareness and a ploy to listen instead of perpetuating silence.

Maja Tosic can be reached at tosimaj@umich.edu.

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