The Price of Progressive Politics: The Welfare Rights Movement in an Era of Colorblind Racism

The Price of Progressive Politics: The Welfare Rights Movement in an Era of Colorblind Racism

The Price of Progressive Politics: The Welfare Rights Movement in an Era of Colorblind Racism

The Price of Progressive Politics: The Welfare Rights Movement in an Era of Colorblind Racism

Synopsis

Through the voices of women activists in the welfare rightsmovement across the United States, The Price of ProgressivePolitics exposes the contemporary reality of welfare rightspolitics, revealing how the language of colorblind racism underminesthis multiracial movement. Through in-depth interviewswith activists in eight organizations across the UnitedStates, Rose Ernst presents an intersectional analysis of howthese activists understand the complexities of race, classand gender and how such understandings have affectedtheir approach to their grassroots work. Engaging and accessible,The Price of Progressive Politics offers a refreshingexamination of how those working for change grapple withshifting racial dynamics in the United States, arguing thatorganizations that fail to develop a consciousness that reflectsthe reality of multiple marginalized identities ultimatelyreproduce the societal dynamics they seek to change.

Excerpt

I see this pattern and it took me years to connect the pieces.
Working jobs and dealing with child care issues, paying 50% of
my check for child care and then havin’ to be asked to leave my
place because I chose between child care and payin’ my full rent.
Or feedin’ my kids or gettin’ diapers and then forced into situ
ations because I chose not to be a punching bag. And so these
are systematic choices that have been mapped out and we need
to understand that.

—Grace, California

Well, the strengths of the group, is, first of all—it’s a bunch of peo
ple that are poor people. And some of the people can get strength
from other people. And it goes on like that. We’re something like
a big family and we, and when one go through something, we all
have a little input and try to go through it with them—we don’t
let ’em go through it alone…. Togetherness. Yes.

—Shauna, Texas

On a cold November morning, women huddled around a podium came together to speak. Two months after the levees broke and Congress was considering drastic cuts to the already shredded safety net, it was the time to be heard. The purpose of their gathering on the Capitol steps was to call media attention to the deteriorating state of the already tattered safety net. Yet their message alternated between the searing anger, betrayal, and despair of New Orleans and the stilted jargon of budget cuts. The Katrina speeches were not part of the planned script, yet they were the most urgent and meaningful. Those speeches had to be made. Why did some of the women not understand this need? Why did they not understand the connection between Katrina and further welfare cuts? This book is the story of these women and their struggles with one another to make change. It is the story of welfare . . .

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