When I hear on the news about a shrinking middle class, I want to ask, “How does a state of mind disappear?”

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SOME say being middle class means that you work at a certain job or attain a certain income level; that if you’re white and American and a teacher or plumber, you’re automatically a middle-class person. I think being middle class is about more than that.

Being middle class is when you are taught by your grandparents how to survive in any economy, with any job that you find, whatever an employer decides to pay you. You make it work. When you get fired on a Friday from your job, you have the know-how behind you to keep it together and not crumble. You know that you’ll be OK; you always have been.

It means knowing that you have friends and family to go to, no matter what, and that there will always be a story to be told of a time much worse than anything that you’re going through.

It means that your great-grandparents came to America with $5 in their pockets, so you can damn well get another job. And if you don’t, then something else will come along; it always does. Being middle class is belonging to a group of people that never gives up.

Middle-class people have been taught to help each other and to help their neighbors. They believe in community. They believe in miracles, too — they’ve seen so many along the way that it would be impossible not to.

Being middle class is that sweet spot: It’s wholesome and comfortable, and it’s safe. My parents were proud to be middle class. They raised their children with pride in the ways that were passed down to them and wished more for them in terms of satisfaction, not reward.

When I hear on the news about a shrinking middle class, I want to ask, “How does a state of mind disappear?” As long as there are children to pass on the values, stories and lessons of the middle-class immigrants they were raised by, there will be a class of people that will not give up, will not forget their heads over money or fame, and won’t, for better or worse, change much at all.

The middle class cannot be erased that easily.