In David Brooks' latest column for The New York Times, he told a story about taking a friend out to lunch who had "only a high school degree." It's not going over well.
Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named "Padrino" and "Pomodoro" and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo, and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican. [David Brooks, via The New York Times]
Brooks, in the column entitled "How We Are Ruining America," goes on to say that "American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class." He's citing the sandwich shop experience as an example of "informal social barriers," which he argues play an even bigger role than "structural barriers" in segregating "the lower 80 percent."
"Their chief message is, 'You are not welcome here,'" Brooks writes of these "social barriers," as he drives home his larger point about how college-educated Americans ensure their kids "retain their privileged status" while at the same time "making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks."
But a lot of that was lost in the story of the sandwich shop, which Twitter was quick to criticize. Becca Stanek