Straddling lower, middle class

By Ashley Cook
October 4, 2007

kaitlin barr/editor in chief

Cabrini College’s President’s Convocation honored Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alfred Lubrano. Lubrano is author of the book “Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams.” Lubrano is also a contributing editor to GQ Magazine, has won six national journalism awards and is a commentator for National Public Radio since 1992.

Lubrano made a speech about an overlooked social issue, the social transition from blue collar to white: the differences of working and middle class families based on values, education and culture. “Related by blood, separated by class,” Lubrano said.

“Limbo” individuals are those who are in between the two classes. He also refers to them as Straddlers. To the blue-collar family, love, family and money are key, but to the white collar, knowledge is most important.

“Middle class people say that writing itself is a learning experience, when you write something you know more about it when your done with it, it makes you more well balanced, a little smarter, less ignorant and a little more open to people and differences.” Lubrano said.

Lubrano used stories from his book throughout his speech to give examples of families who have suffered from this social issue. He spoke about how families can fall apart when a member of the blue-collar family decides to enter the world of white-collar individuals.

“I think most parents want the best for there kids, what they don’t always anticipate is that college can change your child,” Lubrano said. “It’s such a retro experience, education changes you, and it takes you further and further away from who you were as a working class member of your family, your still you, but there are differences and that’s what makes for a clash.”

Lubrano said he felt that more balanced people, people who felt best about themselves, as people in general, could find the duality, do a balancing act, and feel like they could draw the best from their working class culture and bring it into their middle class lives, and kind of strengthen themselves.

Lubrano concluded that for Straddlers, life’s ultimate goal is reconciliation: finding a peace with the past and present, blue collar and white, old family ways and the new middle-class life. Straddlers can then celebrate the blending of the past with the present. “Peaceful reconciliation comes to us when we can finally meld the two people we are,” Lubrano said.

“My father was a bricklayer. I am a newspaperman. He got his wish, that I graduate from college and not live the life of the outside man,” Lubrano said. “I got my dream, that I leave the neighborhood and get a chance to write about the world.”

The evening concluded with Cabrini honoring Lubrano with a citation and a book signing. First-year student John Disanto was also recognized for his essay on Lubrano’s story.

Ashley Cook

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