Mike Rose’s Blog: Rags to Riches, Republican Style
Beautiful critique by Mike Rose of “rags to riches” rhetoric with no acknowledgement of the pain of having only rags.
“The stories of mobility I know differ greatly from the Republican script. To be sure, there is hard work and perseverance and faith – sometimes deeply religious faith. But many people with these same characteristics don’t make it out of poverty. Discrimination is intractable, or the local economy devastated to the core, or the consequences of poor education cannot be overcome, or one’s health gives out, or family ties (and, often, tragedy) overwhelm.
The people who do succeed – and their gains are typically modest – often tell stories of success mixed with setbacks, of two steps forward and one back. Such stories reveal anger and nagging worry, or compromise and ambivalence, or a bruising confrontation with one’s real or imagined inadequacies – “falling down within me,” as one woman in an adult literacy program put it. This is the lived experience of social class.”