Who IS working-class? I think we all might be…

Stepchild has been on Fall Shutdown. Like summer shutdown, but still having to work, run around, deal with responsibilities, etc. And deal with personal matters, go figure. But rather than just shut the blog down, or abandon it completely, I want to just change gears the tiniest bit.

What does it mean to be working class? Does it mean that you’re a manual laborer? Not necessarily, although that leads to another interesting discussion, and kinda where I wanted to go with this: the NBA lockout. I haven’t followed it very closely, though I am a sports fan, for the most part. I followed the NFL lockout a little closer this spring, but that was just coincidence. I actually like basketball quite a bit more than football. But that’s neither here nor there.This is an interesting bit of documentary about sports & politics.

But the NBA looks like it’s in a different position. I’m not going to get into particulars, because I don’t know them. But I’m really thinking hard about who actually IS working-class? And by extension, who should our working-class heroes be? In the recent crackdowns of the various Occupy cities, the police have obviously played a big part. The most notable being Oakland, CA, where police maced the crowd, shot people with rubber bullets, and in short, rioted. The police rioted, not the people. In response, the people of Oakland shut down the port a few days later. Tens of thousands of people marched to the bay and shut down one of the busiest ports on earth. But the police are made up of people. And they are most certainly working-class. I have cops on both sides of my family and I know that neither of them are wealthy. So why are they so invested in protecting a system that shits all over them, too?

The NBA lockout is interesting to me in a similar way. During the NFL lockout, the players did an excellent job advocating on their own behalf, wresting big gains in revenue-sharing and health care for players. Remember, no one comes to see what’s-his-name who owns the Steelers. They come to see Troy Polumalu,

Troy Polamalu

Not Dan Rooney

Right. This is NOT who anyone is coming to see.

Anyway, the NBA players have a sort different culture than the NFL, it seems. The show Basketball Wives is a hit, though it could just easily be called Basketball Babymothers or Basketball Ex-Girlfriends or Basketball Depressing-Display-of-Golddigging, Colonized-Women. Or maybe I’m just missing the point. In any event, it seems that the NBA players union has been less able to capitalize on the same sort of solidarity and concern that the football players were able to manage. I’m curious about that dynamic. Why? Basketball players are no less working-class than are football players, or teachers or cops or autoworkers. Their labor creates profit for the owners and the league. Even the flashiest, most eccentric owner like Mark Cuban is just a sideshow compared to the show on the court. This is a short video of Mark Cuban, throwing a tantrum. This is NOT what people pay to see. No one wears a Cuban jersey.

This is a much longer video of some of the most killer moments in a variety of NBA games. These are the moments that people come to see, that they talk about for years.

The old South End newspaper used to have the motto that “One class-conscious worker is worth a thousand students.” One class-conscious basketball player is worth a thousand owners. Just something to think about.

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About Stepchild in the Promised Land: Notes from a Tier-Two Autoworker

A third-generation Detroiter, Wayne State grad, mother and tier-two autoworker.
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