Plight of the Privileged – Talking about the term ‘MiddleClass”
I heard the word middle-class for the first time at a school party. A few of my classmates used it to refer to my mohallay ki darzan ke sile huwe lawn ke frocks in contrast to their clothes that came from sharif plaza, Lahore or abroad. It was a primary school. Still, I now realize that even if I did not have expensive clothes, lunch money or a car to go to school, my parents still gave me a certain privilege by sending me to an elite school which they could barely afford.
Where I live, students fail because they can’t afford good schooling, guide books or tuition. Where children work in the evening to pay their fees. They get content at becoming clerks, rickshaw drivers, or a teacher in mohally ka primary school. That is the middle class. The safaid-posh.
Notify the dictionaries to redefine middle class. It now includes people with strong economic/political backgrounds, who have air conditioners in their homes, who have done O/A levels because their parents could afford it, who own houses in metropolis localities, who have never starved out of need or done any manual labor.
Also add in the encyclopedias that non-elite student movements do not need to include a majority of government school/college students. They are not even required to be led by students, but by those who have graduated and are employed. Students who could have and should have graduated and still haven’t, can also lead to validate the student movement status. What non-elite student movements do require, is students from semi-private institutions where they have access to rich/influential friends(if they are not that friend already) and mentors who back them and fund them. (Sarcasm intended. Hypocrisy, not.) I realize that there will be some students in this movement who are middle-class and underprivileged, but not seeing them as the face of the movement is self-explanatory.
To my very rich school-fellows, I appeared to be middle class although I really don’t belong to it in the true sense. Had I really been, my father wouldn’t have sent me to Beaconhouse. How privileged and rich does one have to be to consider people with air conditioners in their homes and education from expensive schools, to be middle-class? To those who see the above mentioned characteristics and privileges as being those of middle class make me question that when a very just case is made for deserving people, by those who don’t share their lived-in reality and yet, are delusioned that they really do, does no one realized how it jeopardises the core principal of the cause?
Let a woman brought up in a hous with a.c, fluent in english, tell a B.A student from the college in my area, that like her, she too is not elite or privileged. Bohot bara dil rakhna hoga phir aap ko uss ki aankhon main hasrat aur mahroomi ki shikayat dekhne ke liye. Because being middle class is not a choice or a self-imposed identity for them. If it is for you, still don’t use it and undermine their suffering.
Acknowledge your privilege, empower those who don’t have it as much as you, and then let them speak for themselves.
The end does not justify the means.
By Haniya Humayun
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