Sarah Kendzior Performatively Makes My Point on Working Class Erasure

I wrote a post about how the identitarian framework has a class problem, doesn’t take class identity seriously, and doesn’t treat those with that identity anything like any of the other identities within the framework. Sarah Kendzior on twitter thought it would be a good idea to prove just how true that was. In so doing, she acts as if I am hiding the ball when I talk about how over the top and inappropriate her tweets were earlier when she challenged my ability to write about poor people’s issues.

Here they are.

Now let me reiterate what I said in the original higher education post that generated this oppressive response. At no point in the piece she is upset with do I ever talk about any poor person’s interiority. That is not my game and never has been. I use nationally representative data sets to write about economic trends. There are 46.5 million poor people. So you’d be kind of foolish not to.

But here is the thing. If you wanted to get into the question of my being qualified to write on it, I am a poor person from a poor background, which is the whole point of my second piece about the identitarian elision of class.

Now curiously, I have been writing about poor people’s issues for years and I know Kendzior has retweeted a number of the pieces and been following me for at least a few months. At no point has my ability to talk about poor people’s issues ever been questioned.

But if I produce something using the same statistical approach that I always use that leads to a conclusion she doesn’t like, she tries to probe me as if I don’t have the authority to talk on poor people’s issues. Then when I explain, as must come to great shock to those in this circle, that in fact I do have exactly the right identity authority to talk on these issues, the goalposts move and somehow I am supposed to go out into the world and I guess run my own personal poor people surveys on anything I write about. Like I am supposed to find I guess a group of them and say: what percent of people from the bottom quarter of families do you think got a four-year college degree in the late 1970s (this being the kind of data I use in my piece)? That is apparently what I am tasked to do.

None of that matters though. What I want you to ask yourself is whether anyone would ever put this kind of thing on someone of another oppressed identity group writing about their own oppressed identity group? Would that ever happen? When Tressie wrote her fantastic piece on Miley twerking, would anyone ever have said to her: hey Tressie, how many black people did you survey before you did this piece? No of course not. For one, people agree with the content of the piece (that’s always step one, flatter the priors and it doesn’t matter what you do). But two, that absolutely would never fly within the identitarian discourse norms that are theoretically also supposed to apply to poor people, but don’t. You don’t say that to someone, unless of course it’s class. Then you do because class identity is never taken seriously and is totally marginal within this whole identity-focused framework.