Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement from the Working-Class Studies Association

The Working-Class Studies Association releases the following statement (also downloadable as a PDF here) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and standing in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice:

Black Lives Matter

The Working-Class Studies Association supports the Black Lives Matter movement and stands in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice. Racism and racialized violence is, and has always been, interconnected with capitalist and colonial systems of oppression and exploitation.  In this regard, we stand strongly in support of the interconnected movements that are working to transform these violent and rapacious structures of racial capitalism which continue to perpetuate violence against racialized communities of color and formerly colonized peoples on every continent.  It is long past time to end that system, and bring a new world from the ashes of the old.

Black Lives Matter.

The history of the United States is a violently racist one, beginning with white settler colonists committing genocide on and dispossessing Native people from their lands, and violently enslaving and exploiting the labor of Black people. American society is still fundamentally structured by the continuing oppression of Black and racially minoritized peoples, systemic institutional racism, and economic exploitation.   This historical and ongoing structural racism creates the violence seen in police forces across the country and is responsible for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many other predominantly Black and Brown victims of police brutality. Such killings are a part of a long and ongoing history of lynching where violent racist white men – both police and civilian – murder Black people with impunity.

This kind of violent structural racism is not confined to the United States. In the UK, the police also disproportionality target Black and racialized ethnic minority people.  The police killing of Mark Duggan in 2011 sparked days of protest across the UK. In 2018 the British government unjustly deported members of the Windrush Generation – Black workers from the Caribbean who were invited to emigrate to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Australia was also built through white settler colonial violence.  The state continues its long history of murdering and incarcerating Indigenous people.  Since 1991, 437 Indigenous people have died in police custody in Australia. For centuries, racial capitalism and white settler colonialism have engaged in the systematic looting of the resources of the majority of the world’s Black, Brown and working-class communities. It has created misery and despair for Black and Brown peoples around the globe.  This must end.

Black Lives Matter.

In addition to being a contemporary example of racist police violence, as a working-class Black man, George Floyd’s situation of being laid off and looking for work due to the Covid19 pandemic also exemplifies another dimension of racial inequality that has been experienced disproportionately by Black and racially minoritized working-class people. The current crisis has clearly shown that Black and racially minoritized  people are made particularly vulnerable to the virus and to the economic effects of the pandemic by ongoing structural racism across nearly every institution. It reveals the ways that insecure work, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of adequate medical care, and underfunded educational institutions, lead to the poverty and despair that is then left to be solved through police violence, especially in racially minoritized working-class communities.

While the privileged few of the white and wealthy have been able to shield themselves from the worst effects of the pandemic, Black, Brown and working-class people have lost their jobs or have been forced to risk their health and lives by continuing to work  in essential roles, often for low wages and in unsafe conditions. We are not in this together. Black and Brown working-class communities have been brutally exploited for their labor and have suffered and died in disproportionate numbers due to these ongoing and institutionalized systems of inequality.

Black Lives Matter.

The Working-Class Studies Association is an international organization which promotes the study of transnational, multiracial working-class people and their cultures. We are a group made up of academics, activists, teachers, writers, poets, journalists, practitioners, students, artists and a wide range of others interested in developing the field of working-class studies. The aim of the Association is to highlight the diverse lives and experiences of multi-racial and multi-ethnic working-class peoples around the world. It also seeks to reveal how class works by examining capitalist class-based systems of inequality in order to advocate for a more just world for multiracial working-class peoples. Members of the Working-Class Studies Association live and work in many different countries and contexts and work to fight race and class-based inequalities and discrimination in our respective communities.

The Working-Class Studies Association loudly and with one voice condemns all forms of racist oppression and calls for an end to racist police violence. We commit ourselves, as both individual members, and as an organization, to working in solidarity with Black, Brown and working-class communities to dismantle ongoing systems of racial capitalism.

Black Lives Matter.

Fazio Wins University of North Carolina’s System Award for Teaching Excellence.

Past Working-Class Studies Association President, and Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, Michele Fazio has won the University of North Carolina’s System Award for Teaching Excellence.fazio

The award is the highest post-secondary award in the state of North Carolina. Fazio will be formally honored and will serve as UNC-Pembroke’s winter commencement speaker.

Congratulations Michele!

WCSA Members Writing on Workers and the Working Class in the COVID-19 Economy

Amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the dramatic changes in work, Working-Class Studies Association members have been writing about circumstances for workers and the working class.

At the Working-Class Perspectives Blog, Sherry Linkon wrote about how the move to online instruction is highlighting class disparities in higher education. Most recently, Sarah Attfield wrote about how working-class people “hold society together.” And a week earlier, Kathy Newman wrote about class, capitalism, and coronavirus at Disney’s newest attraction.

At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Colby King wrote about how the working class and service industry workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 economy. 

How are you seeing the pandemic changing circumstances for workers and the working class? If you’ve got writing out about how the pandemic is reshaping work and life for the working class, let us know. Share links to your writing at @wcstudies on Twitter, or at wcstudies@gmail.com and we will share it here.

2020 Conference Plenary Address: Matt Brim

The 2020 WCSA Conference Re-Placing Class: Community, Politics, and Labor in a Changing World, being held at Youngstown State University May 20-23, 2020 is pleased to welcome Matt Brim for a public keynote lecture.

Matt brim

Matt Brim is Associate Professor of Queer Studies at the College of Staten Island, an open admissions college in the City University of New York. His forthcoming book, Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University, reorients the field of queer studies away from prestigious, exclusionary institutions of higher education and toward working-class schools, students, theories, and pedagogies. By exploring underclass queer ideas and laying bare the structural and disciplinary mechanisms of inequality that suppress them, Poor Queer Studies advances a queer-class knowledge project committed to anti-elitist and anti-racist education. Brim’s other publications include the coedited collection Imagining Queer Methods, the black queer studies monograph James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination, and an open access online guide for teaching the HIV/AIDS activist documentary film United in Anger: A History of ACT UP. Brim is a former general editor of WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly and is currently an associate editor for the open access journal James Baldwin Review.

Call for Papers for WCSA’s 2020 Conference at Youngstown State University

We are excited to announce the WCSA2020CFP with dates for the 2020 Working-Class Studies Association Conference to be held at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH May 20-23, 2020.

Re-Placing Class: Community, Politics, Work, and Labor in a Changing World

Twenty-five years ago, the academic discipline of Working-Class Studies in the US was born in Youngstown, Ohio, as a group of scholars, activists, artists, workers, and practitioners converged around common goals of celebrating the working class in its diversity and complexity, and to advocate for a politics of social justice and equity. This year the Working-Class Studies Association returns to the place the discipline began for the 2020 conference at Youngstown State University, at a time of rising social tribalism, class conflict, and politically calculated populisms. As WCSA re-convenes in a place synonymous with working-class life, we hope to explore the following:

How can Working-Class Studies offer models for understanding the ways in which myriad local and global working classes intersect, cooperate, compete or are co-opted by other interests? What is the place of class as an instrument of either division or unification, both historically and now?  How do global, national, and local politics and policies exploit, ignore, or alternately, empower and enable workers? What potentials exist for solidarity amongst and within migrant, global, regional and local working classes?  How is diversity within the working class essentialized, fragmented, or, alternately, harnessed and maximized for social and political agendas? How can we reposition, or “re-Place” class in our current global politics as a site for effective action?

Further, what is the role of “Place” as geographical, social, psychic, and economic formation? How does “Place” defined by social, political and economic attributes, define community, which is underpinned by identity, ethnicity, status and power relationships? How does “Place” in these broad definitions provoke ways of thinking about the locations, spaces and places of the working class and Working-Class studies today?

We welcome proposals from multiple disciplines and perspectives: pedagogical, theoretical, creative, and professional. Themes and topics for papers, panels and presentations might include—but are not limited to:

  • Populisms, Diasporas, and Nationalisms
  • Intersectionality
  • Race, Capitalism, and Empire
  • Environmental Justice
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Policies and Politics
  • De-Industrialization
  • Global, Regional or Migrant Working Classes
  • Urban/Rural Working-Class life
  • The Cultural Politics of Class
  • Place and/or displacement of working-class communities
  • Labor now—Locally, Regionally and/or Globally
  • Class, Education, and Equity
  • Resilience, Resistance, and “Class Warfare”

The CWCS at Youngstown State welcomes proposals from academics and practitioners across disciplines, community activists and organizers, and public scholars. Proposal abstracts for papers, creative works/exhibitions, and roundtables of no more approximately 350 words are due by Feb.20, 2020.  Please email submissions to wcsaconference2020@gmail.com

 

Talk and Workshop on Supporting the Working-Class at the People’s Universities at UNC-Pembroke

Working-Class Studies Association Secretary Colby King will be giving a talk and a workshop on supporting the working class at the people’s universities this week at UNC-Pembroke. An Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC-Upstate, King will be discussing how state comprehensive universities (SCUs) host a large proportion of students, as well as faculty and staff, from working class backgrounds. He will describe Class Beyond the Classroom, a program he founded at Bridgewater State University with colleagues including fellow WCSA member Sean McPherson which worked to support students, faculty, and staff from these backgrounds through story-sharing events and other campus activities. Recognizing the contexts for SCUs today and their pivotal role in supporting working class college students, the events will highlight what working class college students, faculty, and staff, who also disproportionately represent a wide array of marginalized identities on campus, contribute to their institutions.

Call for Member News!

Are you a member of the Working-Class Studies Association who has news to share? Maybe you’ve given a talk recently, presented at a conference, or got a new publication out? Maybe you’re starting a new role at your school, or have moved to a new job?

If you’re a member of WCSA and you’ve got news to share, we want to know about it! Please send any news you have to wcstudies@gmail.com with “Member News” in the subject, and we will prepare announcements to be posted here on our website. member_news_28ga29

WCSA 2019 Conference Update

The final program for the WCSA 2019 conference, “Beyond the Heartlands,” at the University of Kent is now available.  The conference website contains information on registration, conference fringe, and membership.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @wcstudies and @DIndustrialKent

 

New Sixth Edition of The New Urban Sociology

 

 

NUS6

A new Sixth Edition of The New Urban Sociology has been published by Routledge. The widely recognized text is organized around Gottdiener’s sociospatial perspective and examines the role played by social factors including race, class, gender, economics, and culture on the development of metropolitan areas, while also integrating social, ecological, and political economy perspectives and research throughout.

Randolph Hohle and Mark Gottdiener, along with WCSA member Colby King, co-authored revisions to the sixth edition, which features a major overhaul and expansion of the previous editions. This edition is packed with new material including an expansion of the sociospatial approach to include the primary importance of racism in the formation of the urban landscape, the spatial aspects of urban social problems, including the issues surrounding urban public health and affordable housing, and a brand new chapter on urban social movements. There is also new material on the importance of space for social groups, including immigrants and the LGBTQ community, as well as the gendered meanings embedded in social space.

Tokarczyk’s new poem published

Past-president Michelle M. Tokarczyk , author of Bronx Migrations and The House I’m Running From, has a new poem, “Philomela in the Rooms,” published in the feminist literary collective, Writers Resist.

 

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