In some of the commentary on David Brooks column, or rather one paragraph in his column, I think I see some different answers to the question: who was Brooks' friend with a high school diploma?
I suspect most or all of those who commented saw her as a white woman, perhaps young, perhaps a contemporary. If true, that shows our blinders. IMHO it's quite as likely that she's a minority, perhaps given his social milieu an immigrant. I'm further dealing in stereotypes when I suggest that a well-to-do media person is more likely to come into contact with an immigrant in his/her daily life than with a white person with only a high school diploma. It would be interesting to know more, but for me the bottom line is his example doesn't do the job he wants it to in his column. On the other hand, the fact that all of us commenters focused on that one paragraph rather than his more general point suggests to me that we're guilty about our privilege and about pulling up the ladder behind us.