Ubiquitous social class

Recently, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak posted two photos of himself on Twitter, entitled “Past Tense…present Tense”. This kind of gameplay is common on social media, that is, two photos are used to compare the past and the present, and the blogger smiles.

In the first photo, Sunak, who is five or six years old, is wearing a primary school uniform. In the second photo, he has served as treasurer and stands in front of the gate of the official residence at No. 11 Downing Street. The accompanying text says that I never thought I would take up my current position. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his trust and support from all walks of life.

Sunak can indeed be said to be a successful example of disadvantaged ethnic groups reaching the top position in British society. He is the second generation of Indian immigrants who grew up in the UK. He was elected to the House of Commons in 2015 and will serve as treasurer in 2020. He is a dazzling political star.

However, the two photos he posted drew a lot of criticism. Many of them were dissatisfaction with his policies during the epidemic, accusing him of not being able to fight the economic downturn but being complacent, but many of them were directed at the two photos. “The offspring of immigrants integrate into the mainstream society and move upward to break the ceiling” implies a mockery. The most typical of them, for example, from the Conservative Party veteran Ken Clarke (Ken Clarke) reply: “Sorry, I think no one will help you along Winchester College, Oxford University, hedge funds, marry billionaires The daughter’s life journey makes a “Dancing Life” (Billy Elliot), so let’s concentrate on the work at hand.”

The actor of “Dancing Life” was born in a coal miner’s family in northeast England, but he fell in love with ballet persistently, overcoming many obstacles and finally becoming a dancer. What Clark meant was that you should not pretend to be the protagonist of “Dancing Life”, as if you had nothing to do with your own efforts. You belong to the social elite.

Clark’s statement is not unreasonable. Sunak’s ancestors did not come from India, but from Africa. His grandfather immigrated from India to Kenya, which was still a British colony at the time, and served as administrative management for the colonial authorities, and his status was higher than that of the locals. In the 1960s, his father took Sunak and immigrated to the UK. Unlike the immigrants from the Indian subcontinent or Jamaica and other places with poor living conditions and low social status at that time, the Sunak family has always been middle-class; his parents sent him to Winchester College, the oldest private school in the UK, which is equivalent to Let him embark on the first step to continue climbing.

In other places, Clark’s remarks may be regarded as discrimination against immigrants, but not in the United Kingdom, because in today’s British society, it is still acceptable to judge a person by social class, and nothing can get rid of the shadow of social class.

Recently, I watched a documentary on the BBC hosted by Loki, a Scottish rapper who grew up in the ghetto of Glasgow. From his perspective, the film explores the solidification and evolution of the British social class. He gave an example, saying that people often ask him why he speaks so clearly and methodically? Of course, this question is out of compliment, but he believes that this actually exposes the prejudice of the questioner, because they will equate the Glasgow accent with poverty, ignorance, and inability to think, so when they encounter a Glasgow accent, they have a strong Glasgow accent. People who have a clear and coherent point of view will naturally ask “why”. In his view, the subconsciousness of the social class is still very strong, and people always try to classify a person into a certain social class through their accent, behavior, etc., which has no direct relationship with money, positions, etc.

Sunak speaks not only without an Indian accent, but also a private school graduate accent. It is just because of his skin color and ethnicity that it is difficult to judge. He also tried to make his origin appear to be civilian, but judging from the response on Twitter, the British have actually classified his social class.