Joan C. Williams, legal scholar and author of “White Working class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America” explains why some members of the white working class don’t graduate from college. Following is a transcript of the video.
One of the messages that the white working class has heard is if you want a decent solid life, graduate from college. I hear people say to me all the time, “Well, why don’t they get with it and graduate from college?” One of the things that I think, this is part of the class cluelessness, going to college makes perfect sense and is absolutely the next step for people of a certain class. We expect, in my crowd, that kids will grow up and they will go to the best college they get into and they will graduate. It’s really different from the expectations in many working class families. And actually, blacks are different than whites in this regard. Blacks value education more.
Many whites, they want to go to college, they’re just like the others that we’re familiar with. Many of them, though, they don’t want to become pencil pushers. And they don’t want to move across the country, away from the only people they have ever known, people who have a tradition of being very rooted, of staying very close to home throughout your entire life.
And they don’t want to go college because it’s far more risky for them, economically. Many of them start out in college, incur huge debts, and then don’t graduate. And so end up paying sometimes one third of their income to pay for college on the wages of someone with only a high school education. Much more risky economically.
And then, finally, many of them who do go to college meet up with insults. A “White Trash Bash” is a common kind of fraternity party where everybody dresses up like “white trash.” Many of these kids that come from blue collar families, they don’t feel comfortable in college because they and their families are called garbage. Would you feel comfortable?
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