Today, on International Workers' Day (i.e. May Day, my favorite day), we celebrate laborers all over the world, and their struggle for political and economic rights.
On this day, I invite you to ponder what being a "worker" means to you.
You may think working is just about getting money and security, getting enough money to pay the rent, pay for childcare, and save for retirement.
But this post is a reminder that there's another piece to the puzzle -- our community and our social class.
In fact, many of us don't take on certain job opportunities because they are associated with a different social class, and that scares us.
For those of us who grew up poor, working class, or at the very least not as wealthy as our neighbors, we often see richer people as "the other," as "The Man" oppressing us. Making more money and working a "fancy job" means becoming "one of them," "Those" people who oppress us.
For those of us who grew up with wealth, working in the (for example) service or entertainment industry is scary for a similar reason. It means becoming "one of them," the people who serve us and our friends. The people who are not part of "our" community.
Our labor, then, is not just about financial security and comfort. It also has to do with feeling comfortable socially. Some of us feel uncomfortable around wealthy professionals, because we associate them with oppression. Others feel uncomfortable around working-class professionals such as cleaners and drivers, since they associate them with shame and lost status.
How is your labor tied to your social class?
Is there a job you secretly want, but which would mean associating with people from a different social class? What feelings does that bring up?
Happy May Day!