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tv   After Words Farah Stockman American Made  CSPAN  January 1, 2022 10:00pm-11:05pm EST

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nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> host: so great to be here today. thanks for having me on this wonderful show and interviewing the writer of american-made, farah stockman. it's a remarkable piece of work, farah. >> guest: thank you so much. >> host: so it's epic storytelling, naturalistic. follows three people who worked in a factory in indianapolis, a
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factory that we shut down. i just wanted to find out how did you decide to do this in the first place? >> guest: well, so in 2016 i was stunned just like many other listeners probably were stunned that many americans cast about for a man who had never served a single day in government. and i am from the rust belt so i started asking around why, why donald trump? and i kept hearing about factories, he's going to save my job, he's going to save my plant. trump at the time his going around these rallies and he would talk about all the factors that were moving and he would call them out. is anyone here from carrier? anyone here from this plant? the workers would raise their hands and call out their years of seniority. it was a big deal to the factory workers, and i decided to follow
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shannon at this plant that trumpet tweeted about. it was in indianapolis and it was moving to mexico and i just wanted to know, like what does this feel like to be told that your job is moving away because these people over here are going to do it cheaper? >> host: and you did, you found these three people, wally, sharon and john. one of the things that struck me, and you write about this he could you write about yourself and his book, is part of what makes it terrific. these are not people that necessarily grew up with them not necessarily sort of people your friendship group or your family. although with some exception. what was it like to start to try to cross those barriers and become intimately intertwined with these sources live? >> guest: so it was hard at first. i knew i wanted to write about a woman because the were female
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workers in this plant and we never hear about them. so i i found shannon on facebk and i said shannon, would you be willing to tell me your story? at first she agreed to meet me for lunch at cracker barrel, and then she got scared and canceled abruptly. and they had to promise or i wouldn't write the piece until after the factory closed because she was afraid that she wouldn't get her bonus. she was afraid the company would punish her for talking to the media. but the first day i sat down with her, and asked about her job she talked like to our street. it was as if she'd been waiting for whole life for somebody just ask her that question. so she really was proud of the way that she climbed the hierarchy in that factor, started off as a janitor, ended up in one of the most dangerous and highly paid positions on the factory floor. she was the heat treat operator. she ran the furnaces and no
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woman had ever done that before. so she was really proud here she had to overcome all these obstacles like the men did not want to train her when she first got there. they tried to get her fired. they would play tricks on her and have like explosions come out of the furnaces to scare her. she just stuck to it. she had been -- she had been in a relationship with a violent man and the job helped her escape that relationship. so the job meant a lot to her, and over time i really got to know her. i ended up, i would go to her house in the morning, well, her shift at that point was some like to in the afternoon until ten at night and she had no time outside of that. so i would go to her house and drive to work with her and jump out of the car like right before she turned into the factory, , d that was how i ended up hearing
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so much ever story during the time that the plant was shutting down. i i mean, i ended up following r for four years so we get closer and she started trust me to come inside the house and did the at important family events like when her daughter got a scholarship. >> host: that was amazing. purdue, right? her daughter got a scholarship, and one of the things that keeps coming up to me in the book is they are not poor exactly. they are middle class. they make 60,000 it she made 68,000, and yet there were so many bills to pay. there's the college. there's her granddaughter who is disabled, medical care. there's car insurance and there's mortgages. so what look like even in good times, what look like quite a bit of money but by the end of
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the because we have such a small social safety net in america, it's actually not that large. that's what they're holding onto. that's what all these go wholly on to is their jobs, middle life that is slipping away. my book i call it middle -- the precarious middle class. these folks sort of have a lot in common with that class i would say. what does it mean when you made it to that place come 60,000 here, 60,000 a year and you feel like you will be pushed back down the ladder? that was the feeling i got in all three of these stories traded i love that the use the term middle precarious in your book. i really can't understand the working class, middle class is kind of an income term. working class to me, it's meant, i came to see it as people for
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whom work represents the difference between them and the class beneath them, right? these were people, so shannon grew up on food stamps in a trailer park and she looked back with shame is happening, she hated going grocery shopping with her mother because her mother used she food stamps. i . that was a humiliation. so turtles a matter of pride you no longer need a safety net come to no longer look for a check from the government. after the plant closed, john was another worker i followed, he had to run the gauntlet of the unemployment insurance and he was like okay, i'll it because i paid into the system all my life, but the idea of accepting welfare or accepting a system that he had not paid into was abhorrent to him. it was abhorrent to him. and all of these workers new
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people who kind of game the system to live off a social safety net or to sort of not work as hard as they could be. they actually look down on those people and they wanted a job and needed a job. so this notion of i think sometimes they say why do they vote against an interest? i think the reason is like the working class tends to want to work. these factory jobs with the most coveted jobs in the community. like shannon, when her french in high school would ask her where she is working, she would tell them and she would see in the across their faces because these were 25-dollar an hour jobs that you could get without a college degree. so right out of high school
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without even a ged in some cases. they were supposed to have a ged but a lot of them lied about it and got in any way. these were family supporting jobs with pension come with healthcare, and all that stuff. that almost doesn't exist anymore, right? what you saw was those with the jobs that were leaving and going overseas, because they paid so much that is why it made sense for the company to move a place where people would only need three dollars an hour or one dollar an hour. i really ended up seeing what it felt like to lose, these were the last of those kinds of jobs. these were the last. to someone like shannon, these are jobs that were like passed down in families. you could only act to get into that factory if you knew someone who is already working there. it wasn't easy to get a job like
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that. they were very precious, and so i think, especially for people who came from families that a been there for generations, it was a shock. it was a real shock. especially to the white people who work in the factory, especially to the men. i think it was also a shock to shannon just because she thought man, i finally made it somewhere, , i crawled up and me it, and then boom, it's like the rug is pulled out from under her. >> host: i mean, i thought a bit, this is a phrase i give it in book which was then losing the narrative of their life. some of this is economic but some of this is like existential and personal, right, that she is defined yourself especially shannon because shannon escaped dan, right, who was is really abusive guy, but the work was a way out. the work was away like a form of healing from trauma even though
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some people would've found it traumatic because it's very dangerous work. so much was tied up for her with the work. >> guest: that was my biggest take away from this book is how much we get out of our job beyond the paycheck. how many times have you been to a dinner party and a been asked so, what do you do? what people really asking you, who are you? how important are you? for these people it was financial advice. it was a reason to get up in the morning. you felt like you are contributing to society. you are part of the world. wally who was one of the workers that i followed had served a stint in prison, and this factory helped them get back on his feet and he got a hold social life and whole group of friends that had 401(k) plans
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and told him how to get on the 401(k) plan, that went to money to buy a rental house which he fixed up and then started renting as a side business. so you see all of the things that these factory workers got out of a a factory. it was almost like all the things i get out of being a college graduate, like the people, if i were to look for a job that's my network. i would go back to the network can say is or something where you are? after the factory closed they went back to that network and to the france, where did you get on? can i get on? can you give me on here or there? the closure of these plants is hitting the same groups over and over and over again weakening their social network, these people used to be, you know, how the most coveted jobs and all of a sudden everyone else is earning $14 an hour.
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it was interesting by the way to be out there on the picket line with them. they would have the signs before the plant closed down they would have these rallies by the road and say keep them made in america. people woodhall can support but some people would put up their middle finger and say like welcome to america. we have been out here earning dollars an hour this whole time. there were some people who are not sympathetic because they were saying you guys it has as good jobs for a long time and none of the rest of us have. >> host: what's interesting also is how in parallel with the decline of unions and is not a coincidence, right? a third of american workers were in unions in the 1950s, not it's 12%. it's probably smaller now. that's what i could ask you next. how do you think the union did
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in terms of this particular plant you were following and what could unions be doing better, what could people be doing better to be part of unions to try to save their jobs? >> guest: man, it is really tough. you can sort of see how unions get in a death spiral. i mean, so thinking back to the golden years of american manufacturing you had, i hate to say it but just yet low imn and you had a lot of kind of militant strikes and a lot of stuff that came to make those manufacturing jobs really good-paying jobs. once those factory started moving away people stopped demanding stuff from the company, right? they stopped demanding profit-sharing and higher pay and shorter working hours.
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by the end they are just begging for their job. and believe the union over the last ten years at this plant it was a very vanquished task to serve on union because all you did was sitting around and negotiating which they never going to give up next? which benefit that our dads and uncles fought for our going to give up next? because that's what it took. the company asked him to take a 30% pay cut. literally that was an opening bid. the union rallied workers to reject that but then they got a second tier, new workers are hired at a lower pay permanently forever. and then the plant moved and so globalization and the ease with which these factories could be moved to places where people work much cheaper, that has to
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ruin leverage of unions who worked in those plants. because now there's an alternative. now there's a much cheaper labor force that is hungry and willing to work and not looking for a smoke break and doesn't by the way need any alcohol treatment, like you know, it was really tough. and then as unions started declining people started losing faith in the unions because not producing, not giving the high wages. and so i call it a death spiral because they are also not able to get politicians elected to within protect them. so you see right to work come back to indiana, and republican laws that then say you don't have to pay your union dues and it just goes from there. >> yeah. >> host: yeah, a plant called an
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which allison transmission which is a very old plant. it had been there a long time and they were hired at the bottom tier. they were earning $14 an hour from 25. it would take them a couple of years to get back up to the top tier. they were union jobs but they were deathly not as well paid. a few people got on at eli lilly which is the pharmaceutical manufacture and they started making medicine. they were paid as well. there was once were paid pretty good. they were paid may be as well as they had been paid. john who i i followed, he's a
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diehard union man, the grandson of a coal miner. his father-in-law had been an auto worker and he was really, really into the union. and he agonized after the factory closed about whether he should become a steelworker again. he actually finally had a chance to get on in a plant that made him a steelworker again. or go work in hospital. he ended up taking a a lower paying job at a hospital because he said this hospital is not going anywhere and have i'y been through two plant closings. i don't know if that factories going to remain. so people were sort of basically end up saying, i think i devoted my life to doesn't have a future. and so i i better get on at hospital. hospitals and healthcare is like the new factory. that's the new place where the caller people could actually
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earn a living wage and make a pretty good job without going back to college or going to get a lot more education. i have to say -- >> host: not to not to sound overly bleak but your book really makes a clear point how like death and disease, it's almost become a commodity or its a product for these communities, industry because you and i are in our 40s and your subjects are in their 40s but everybody around them is dying and is just a very different life. as you point out in your book like kind of elderly i think an elderly relative the past way and one friend from college but it wasn't like my sister, my ex-boyfriend, my kid. terrible levels of death. what's that like? with that like to be in a
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community, and no spoilers but important people in this book that as well. what does that do to you as a reporter? >> guest: it's a real wake-up call. that's the despair that book came out right as i was reporting this and that made, it's making the case. it is saying for the white working class for the first time we are seeing people live their life expectancy is going down and a lot of times it's because of opioid abuse. shannon, every week it felt like someone shannon knew pretty well died of an opioid overdose. people who are very close to them died, and when you see, when you look at the data, is that places that experience unemployment shocks, they get
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opioid deaths. drug abuse goes out. these are not healthy communities. they are not healthy places to be. people need jobs. they just do. they need jobs and you want to work. and in places where work disappears, you see a lot of that. you see a lot of death from drugs. >> host: and also hypertension, heart attacks, all this other stuff because people are undertreated. death of despair, there's also depression, right? people who have congenital illnesses, children that i don't know what their prenatal care was like. you see a constellation of the stuff. it's pretty grim. >> guest: well, yeah. let me -- one of my big takeaways was this healthcare
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piece because when i started researching the book, chuck jones, the union leader, told me somebody is going to die, basically. i had walked into the union hall saying like you all will just -- sing to myself you all just get other jobs. i interviewed so mr. khanna sue told me they will get employed again and he might even get better jobs. this is capitalism and stop essentially, what's the big deal? chuck jones, the union president had told me, it's life and death. somebody is losing their house and then they lose their truck, lose their life, their wife will leave them and eventually they're going to lose their life. that's what he told me. he has been through eight plant closings at that point and i couldn't wrap my head around it. what are you talking about? and by the end he was out of
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about 300 workers there were laid off, three of them died within a year. one drank himself to death as it appears. another seem to have, died of liver disease and then the one i followed who i was deeply close to passed away because he had chest pains and didn't go to hospital because he didn't have health insurance. as jobs become more precarious and his idea of staying for life with one company, it disappears. westermann ask ourselves as a country should we be time healthcare to employment? it's crazy that this worker who i loved and followed closely in the book died because of lack of health insurance. it's crazy that when you lose your job you lose your health insurance. you saw that during the pandemic how insane it was in the middle
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of a pandemic people did not just lose their jobs, they lost their health insurance. so why are we still in that situation in the year 2021? >> host: yes. one of the many things we need to start thinking about, right, decouple health care from jobs. to some extent decouple h.r., things like racism on the job or harassment with some of the subjects in this book experienced that they're always tied to the employer. there needs to be better checks and balances in place and assistance for people that are outside of jobs. i think you make the case eloquently just by showing these people's lives, i was really struck by some of the kind of racist experiences that some of the black workers had at the plant. you want to talk about that a little?
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>> guest: yeah. it was a real education to me. wally who is a black assembly worker i followed who was so optimistic and so beloved at the plant, he got into the plant because his uncle had worked there him and his uncle got into the plant in the '60s because the naacp was really pushing for them to start hiring black people. he got hired and ended up as a janitor. he went and into complaint e unique and why did you make me a janitor? i've been to technical school. i know it operate a machine. the unit was like we know you know how to operate a machine. it's just that there's only so many jobs in this building. and if you get one of those jobs, operating a machine, that means our son are our nephew can't have one.
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that just brought home this idea that jobs are tribal. we get jobs to people in our families, to people we love, to people we consider to be like us. for a long time those good paying union jobs were literally passed down like family heirlooms in that plant. it took the civil rights act for wallabies uncle to be able to operate the machine because of the civil rights act. the day after it passed he went to his boss vincent i i want o operate a machine. because machine operators made twice what a janitor makes. so i do not been for the civil rights action still be a janitor making, he would've made half the money over his lifetime the then. then making a machine operator and the guy who spoke to train him refuses to even speak to him. so we has to learn the job
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literally watching. >> host: which is part of why you explain later and i get to this later again but a lot of the black workers were willing to train their mexican replacements when the white workers were not come right? because there was some kind of recognition of first of all the racism of not returning the mexicans but also of the historical precedent, right? >> guest: yeah. i mean, i went in there, after i start understanding why so many of the white workers were supporting trump, this idea of globalization and the idea that trump was promising to say that factory jobs, it stopped being a mystery to me why worker for voting for trump. the mystery was why didn't the black workers working alongside them vote for trump? that's when i started wondering why didn't have the same analysis? a lot of those black workers,
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they never expected the company to care about them. they never expected their job to be quite as secure. they heard the races on whistles. they heard racism in this notion that we shouldn't give those jobs to those people because these jobs are ours, right? it was really, there were some black workers who refuse to train mexicans but the most unapologetic trains, the first people to raise their hand seem to be these black workers who said hey, let's do it because they are workers, to an somebody trained us here we will train them and keep it moving. we are not going to save the
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plant. might as well ride the wave on out. that's what one of the guys said. their friends were in the union, particularly these white diehard union guys who had been in the union and been in the plant for generations were shocked. they couldn't believe it. why are you selling us out? why can't we stand together and fight for our job? it really showed me in very vivid terms why it was so hard for the workers to speak with one voice and why all reacted differently to trump. >> host: trump is sort of better or worse a character in your book because he has to be. he is defining a lot of the lies that were -- lies that were being told to these workers that the jobs would be saved at the carrier plant as well. and then also a lot of the
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growing, i guess there's no other word for it, racist tendencies of these white workers that then find new meaning, as trump aficionados. i think it's interesting. it starts out actually the book starts out with trump's election. how did you see that? you track of the characters, the subjects change in attitudes towards trump over the course of the four years you reported. that was fascinating also. >> guest: yes. i i wanted my book to be more st of the opposite of a political quote that you find any normal article like a normal article would you like boom, , here's wt i think of trump in one moment in time. in reality people change their minds. they vacillate come different things happen and they react to the news. i really saw these people as bellwethers, of american public opinion and in many ways better bellwethers than own social circle. my social circle i don't think i
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interact on a daily basis with anyone who doesn't have a college degree and yet two-thirds of americans don't have a bachelors degree. that was stunning for me to learn in the process of writing this book. but to get give back to you, i think that from the perspective of a lot of the workers especially the white men, they were seeing their earning power go down, their union power go down. they had seen nothing but losses essentially in their wages over 30 years. they were very pessimistic about the future. because the future, the whole concept of optimism isn't about where you been. it's about where you're going. and so in many ways the black
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workers were more optimistic about the future. it seemed the election of a black president. they had seen social progress in certain ways, whereas the white workers, especially the men, they were just seen losses and there were just saying status decline. so not only are the earning less but they are actually being called out for the privilege, being called out for being racist. they are feeling much less secure, and so that came through a lot. we had this debate and elite circles about why the white working class voted for trump. is it economic insecurity or is it racial insecurity? economic anxiety racial anxiety? look, when you follow a dying
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factor up close it's a most impossible to disentangle the two. they are one and the same. i'm angry my factor job is moving to mexico. what is that, economic or racial insecurity? if an angry the blue-collar jobs to remain in my town, painting, roofing, carpentry or lawn care, janitorial services, but those are being done by undocumented immigrants for less pay than i would accept, what is that, economic insecurity or racial insecurity? if my cousin can't get a job in the pipefitters union because they are only accepting blacks in native americans that year, where does that stand? i just came to understand that the scarcity, the zero-sum thinking that a lot of white working-class people have about well, there's only so many jobs
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in this building and if you get one, that means i can have one or my son can have one here it's real. it is actual reality. there is not an infinite number of jobs, of good-paying jobs. >> host: that is an inspired point. >> guest: i came to understand -- >> host: fara, that is inspired here is what you're saying. sorry about that. >> guest: it was a light bulb went off. we intellectuals talk about racial justice as something, it's dignity. it's something, it's something that can be expanded to all and yet when working-class people think about it, all it is that is who gets dibs on the job? who gets first dibs on the job. that's what it's all about. what are you trying to say back is very inspired . i feel like you should be doing political
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messaging because, which i hope this book "american made" will be taken up and used in future campaigns is a bit of a guide really. ..
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>> and paid off her mortgage, the cat was out of the bag, her life that early bank changed. there was that.
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i wanted to understand her view of politics without influencing it. shannon was not all that comfortable expressing her views, she didn't think her views, the united states is too important to have an opinion about it. i just think we should support the president however, it is. i tried to take a step back so i could hear her obama was strange
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to her because of his perfection every family that she knew with a broken family and different parents and mixed families, no one had a perfect family they like obama. but in the end of it is what changed her mind. she ended up getting angry for bullying people for wearing that we by this time her daughter is a nurse. her daughter is telling her that trump is spreading misinformation and trump supporters are spreading it. and shannon was scared to death of covid and she really turned
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on the president at that time it happened in like three months she just turned on a dime in three months. part of it she lost her job she was on another factory doing great and at that point she was okay with the country going. he retreated a 180. >> she had an awakening. >> another character and a lot of subjects had intense love lives and ex-girlfriend and kids were trouble. if you ever feel conscripted to give advice, first of all romantic advice, babysitting for their lives that people try to get you across or that you actually had to cross. >> not so much - i felt a lot of time with his family. i went to church with them.
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i hung out as much as i could. sometimes i can be applied on the wall to say i'm a reporter and speaking of i did tell people that. a lot of people if you were to walk into a room you would've thought a family friend or a member of the family. i tried not to cross any lines. but you have to be humanly have to care about them as human beings. i should ask the same question because you probably got close to the characters in your book. >> they definitely got checks and parts were published in advance. i ended up helping one of the subjects find a better school for her son.
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that is where i would stop i would give some advice but i know people who help people pay their rent, i offer advice. i feel this a be the capital that he would in the middle class would have another good school. >> is actively unfair to the caregiver in queens that she would not have access to know which were the best schools for her son. >> we all make our own rules. >> information itself is not equitably distributed. what do you do about that. it is really hard. >> this is why shannon realizes, what she realizes, she is an educated father.
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there is a natural. >> her daughter definitely changed after getting a college degree. the other thing that changed her because she was jobless she accepted an institution from a labor organizer to start protesting trump at the trump rallies. that was an interesting experience. the labor organizers are college-educated and there is a total disconnect between them culturally and the workers are trying to organize there was a moment when she was in the parler going for trump rally in this book was written by a psychic medium named john edward. the first books in seventh grade and she's gushing how great it is the labor organizers that i think she's talking about a
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former presidential candidate and he dropped out because he had a baby with his mistress. he said to shannon i didn't know he wrote a book. they're talking about two totally different people. they don't even know who the other person is. shannon has never heard of a failed presidential candidate. that symbolizes how a lot of times we are trying to champion and we don't even know the first thing about them. >> it reminds me of the university of wisconsin capi cramer who studied people in rural wisconsin and we thought of it as cultural inequality. again it's the way that race and economic inequality intertwined having certain cultural understanding is often
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intertwined even know it may not cost there correlated with being of a certain class. you understand which is important. >> and really focus on working class which to me don't have a four-year college degree, did not have a ba. >> you're absolutely right the income definition is problematic. because as you say like the people in my last book were adjunct to make $30000 a year end see themselves as middle class. again it's related to the education and their self identification. >> there is so much about being working class that is cultural. if you ended up, there is some working-class people that got rich in construction and they
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might make 100 or $200,000 a year that they culturally believe that the technical knowledge is more important to the four-year degree. they believe they might be gun owners, their eating habits, they all smoke. there was things that shannon and john had in common that i did not share at all. even though i was a woman, i had that in common with shannon. i was friends of slaves, i had that in common but they had much more in common culturally with each other than they did with me. i just had to come to realize that. i tell a funny story i was trying to get them to go to a fancy restaurant in indianapolis and nobody wanted to go nobody was interested in it took me a long time to realize they would've hated the restaurant. they thought it would've been super pretentious and they made fun of me by the beers that i
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would order. i would order craft beers and john was like what the hell is that. >> a map that somebody had drawn artisanal bs. >> yes. >> i'm a fancy pants. >> exactly. entertain that when you interview them and there is certain kinds of language that i really love, i don't i'm allowed to say this but the book called the people who trade the mexican workers partaking in the suck ass clause. they were likely to the extreme. when you say that, what did they mean when they say the. >> a sock ass is a buddy who sucks up to the boss and does
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what management wants. the diehard union people thought of shannon as a sock ass. she would give her bosses birthday cards and the company would have milestones, work anniversaries, if you been there for a certain number of years, you could have a steak dinner with your boss. john who was a union guy, only a sock ass would go to a dinner like that. shannon would never miss a dinner like that. there is difference of opinion of how much to be in bed with management. yes the sock ass clause in a contract if you trained your mexican replacement he would get a small bonus. only a sock ass would do that. they hit a whole vocabulary that
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i had to learn. if you think about it the way professors in college campuses talk there's a whole vocabulary that you have to learn. we are not even talking to each other. they have their own languages. if you don't learn the lingo is hard to understand what people are talking about. >> one working-class source that i was interviewing said what's a misogynist, why do you guys talk about misogyny and i thought that was really interesting. some of this is about vocabulary and some of the training but some is literally vocabulary. >> i think it is poisonous because now there's an idea if you don't use the right terms or pronouns, you cannot even be
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part of the conversation. so how do you teach working-class people what those terms are. you should have to go to college to learn them. i don't mean to generate those conversations, i think the really important but if you have to go to college to know how to talk like that. you're cutting yourself off from the majority of people in not only the majority of the people of the country but the people that are least advantaged. we have to find a way to be a little bit more forgiving towards those who have not had the opportunity to learn what those terms are. and a little less rigid about how to hear from them. we need to have many more conversations and a lot more connection and by forcing people to talk in certain ways that
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they have even talked to todd. you cut yourself off from them. those are the exact people from the conversations. one of the workers, a white guy named brian got on a eli lilly. even though it was a factory and had a totally different corporate culture. it had a questionnaire, he had to sit down and fill out, are you man or woman or prefer not to say. the corporate culture was very accepting of trans people. he was very accepting of folks from all countries. he was like a fish out of water he did not know how to act in the factory. he's like it's a great job but i spend my days alone, i don't know anyone here.
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he said it's not bad by no means but i stepped into their world, they did not step into mine. >> that was a good answer. >> he had to relearn everything. >> also they go to the gym outbreaks rather than eating donuts and literally there is a smokehouse. i hope i'm getting across to viewers the level of detail. i cracker barrel the status of cracker barrel is a chain in the south but that was interesting, that is a place for things like that. blue state folks might not think, going to the gym at lunch hour, that's a real marker but that was to some of these factory workers. >> what i find when it comes to going to another country and be
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intolerant of another culture and inquisitive about it, were all about that, i traveled all over the world and be able to work at another cultural in kenya and pakistan and observe and experience. but in our own country we go to experience another culture in the deep south or in texas or indiana. we are disdainful of it. we are ashamed of it maybe were we think it shouldn't exist. i think sometimes we have to say that the different culture let's ask more questions and understand i'm not saying it's good or bad but to engage with them and understand them you cannot just start from a place of judgment.
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>> part of your bio you live in michigan as well as cambridge massachusetts a part of your emphasis or the fact that you live there partially what does that mean to saturate yourself with more the communities and to keep her yourself. >> this book reconnected me even a member of my own family have a ton of family members in detroit. detroit has been in trouble since the auto plant shutdown. a lot of my family came from the deep south and they moved to detroit. they moved to detroit and they had years of great jobs and all of a sudden the plants closedown and people struggled.
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you can be a black woman in detroit with two masters earning 30000 a year and not be able to make ends meet. it is easy to sit and know that even though i have members of my own family it just took me a long time to truly understand what economic reality is like. i'm really grateful to people in my book for helping me reconnect with the reality of members of my own family. >> huawei is an incredible character he has a huge heart and ex-girlfriend's daughter.
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stepped into parent like a hollywood stepdaughter. she is difficult and seem to have this amazing person, i don't want to give the book away but how are you processing getting to know him and will happen after to him. >> i'm in touch with his family and i think of him every day. >> i want to get back to the mexican worker retraining. there is something very much hunger games around this. what do you think when the mexican workers started coming and people are retraining people creating their own adolescent
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like they're gonna be put to pasture when they retrain these people. it's one of the most intense in your book. >> i was lucky to be able to go to mexico and find workers who were trained. i found when shannon trained and some others and i interview them about what it was like. they were very moved by the whole experience. one of them told me before he went up there that this is capitalism, this is the way it works. he thought it would be a good thing to bring the factory to mexico but after leading the people in indiana, he was forced to confront an idea that the company was throwing its own workers away and the company would throw him away to.
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the two workers that i met and were trained, they both left for other jobs within six months. they saw a company that did not care about his workers and they did not see a future at that comedy. that was really interesting to hear from them. one said shannon told me, i felt like an executioner, i felt like an assassin. that was a big eye-opener to me. i also realize that those mexican workers had quite a bit of technical training already. they had been trained in high school in some cases to work in factories. mexico had much better training system than the americans did.
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those workers were in some ways much more prepared to take over those jobs and you be a part of the global economy. one of them abraham has traveled all over the world, travel to india and traveled working with indians who are building things. it's hard to imagine shannon or john or huawei being sent to india to work with people. i sort of got a picture of rising skilled manufacturing labor force that is international. our workers are not a part of it. they have been kept out of it. part of it, we do not believe in having industrial policy. we jumped in to the pre-trade
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agreements and globalization without thinking through how to prepare for the future and i hope that has been reversed. i think people are much more willing to talk about industrial policy and apprenticeships and partnerships between unions and community colleges to train the next generation. for a long time, capitalism and the program is the way it works. >> were gonna have to wrap up but i love the indictment of nafta and the critique and your book that comes from the characters. it is a gripping story, thank you sarah you been a wonderful interlocutor, thank you for jo
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jelani cobb and editor david remnick discuss the new yorker's articles on race throughout its history class i am david remnick, editor of the new yorker and thank you for coming to today's talk

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