On Wednesday, I had the joy of watching a piece I helped edit for The Metropole go viral--well, viral by academic blog standards. The post, a history of integration efforts in Shaker Heights, Ohio, was shared on Facebook by Black Lives Matter: Cleveland and on Twitter by Celeste Ng! It brings me so much satisfaction to see the post reaching beyond academic historians, because segregation in the housing market is still a critical problem in American society. Although the piece focuses on efforts made in the 1950s and 1960s to integrate this Cleveland suburb, the author argues that American cities and suburbs could benefit from some of the strategies used in mid-century Shaker Heights.
Here's what captured my attention this week...
I'm reading: I confess that I abandoned a book half-way through this week, the first time in a long while that I've done so--there's just too much good stuff out there, and not enough time to read. In search of something different, I picked up Thomas Vinciguerra's Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber, and the Golden Age of the New Yorker. The book was a graduation gift from a beloved friend, and part of the joy in reading it is that I think of her and her husband every time I pick it up.
This morning, I also read this dynamo article in The New York Times: "Becoming a Steelworker Liberated Her. Then Her Job Moved to Mexico." The piece is laudatory for presenting Shannon Mulcahy, its subject, as a three-dimensional, contradictory, and compassionate woman. In doing so, author Farah Stockman helps the reader understand that the American working class is equally dynamic and complicated. What I think will go overlooked in the conversation about the piece (and shouldn't) is how the movement of manufacturing to Mexico and elsewhere also affects middle class Americans. Stockman writes that The Rexnord Corporation, Mulcahy's employer, decided to move the plant to Monterrey, Mexico in order to generate bigger returns for the company's shareholders--the majority of which are the mutual funds that many Americans have invested in to save for their retirement. The problem, which Stockman never explicitly addresses but which is implied in the piece, is that quality goes down when manufacturing shifts abroad to poorly trained, less experienced workers; as a result, Americans' retirement funds are now invested in companies whose products are less dependable and may decline in value. So it may not be only steelworkers who are losing when corporations send manufacturing abroad.
I'm listening to: Beck released a new album on Friday, and I've been listening to its uptempo tunes on repeat all weekend.
I'm looking forward to watching: Yesterday I started watching GLOW on Netflix, about the 1980s show of the same name. I'm captivated by the scenes of petite Alison Brie learning how to wrestle, and I've found the ensemble cast delightfully weird. So I'm looking forward to finishing the first season this evening.
What are you reading, listening to, or watching this week?