At least annually, the nationally syndicated column named for Ann Landers used to repeat a piece that expounds on class. You know, what yo mama tried to teach you. Our saving virtue was classiness as a race of people when we were poor. So quit Playin’ like you forgot your upbringing!
Simplistic yet profound, it goes like this:
“Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident. It can handle whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.
Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes. Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.
Class bespeaks of an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. Some wealthy “Blue Bloods” have no class, while some individuals struggle to make ends meet loaded with it. Class is real. It can’t be faked.
Class is comfortable in its own skin. It never puts on airs. Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up, and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
Class can “walk with Kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” (Thank you Rudyard Kipling) Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because this person is comfortable with himself.
If you have class, you’ve got it made. If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference.”
In one swoop of the pen, Ann Landers shows most of us for what we are. What we are as Americans, as individuals, and as a community and as a race of people.
When you look at all of the whining, bitching, crying, and emotionalism that this nation has witnessed since 2015 A.T. (After Trump came down the escalator), we have shown ourselves to be everything but class.
Contrary to what they show you daily in commercials and printed advertisements, cars and clothes do not bestow class on the pitiful lot we have become. Nowadays, even “common folk” act like the megalomaniacal hedonists we were warned to avoid.
We want nothing to do with it if it does not complement our insatiable appetites for attention and notoriety. Boasts and vain glory have no value if they can’t be posted on Facebook or Instagram. But class is not something you wear or show. It’s a grace that wears and shows on you.
Don’t be fooled—people with class vote…regularly! People with class do not make harrowing threats in the streets and fail to follow up. People with class do not make everyone and everything besides themselves an excuse or a scapegoat.
Classy people do not allow their children to see them begging and groveling for rights that belong to them by God’s promise. Classy people don’t storm the hallowed halls of Congress because the Messiah they voted for lost in a landslide.
Class is so much more than brand names and brand new cars. Class does not find its home in fancy houses. Instead, it works to clean the streets that lead up to them. Class is taking direct action as directed by our intellect, our values, and for Black people, by the spirit of our ancestors.
Class is a compounded virtue with equal parts of faith, hope, and love. Class does not suppress voters, turn away needy migrants or permit senseless acts of violence and mass shootings.
Classy nations don’t lock up the poor, ignore the mentally challenged, and charge interest rates higher to the common than the rich. People with class don’t act like Americans who call this nation “exceptional.”
I know something about class because my grandmother taught me. She may not have been Ann Landers, but she could read. She pointed me to I Corinthians 13 to paint me a picture of class.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.”
I don’t know much, but I know what class is, and in 2022 America has very little of it!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.