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Shawn Hamilton

American Dolchstoss

Trump in the factory
Workers take photos of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the Carrier factory in Indiana in December. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Shawn Hamilton | Longreads | May 2017 | 10 minutes (2,566 words)

 

When I was about 7 or 8 I had my first serious conversation with my mother about the future: what I wanted to be; how I wanted to get there; how things really “were.” The word “were” in this context was probably my first paradox. Things that “were” were infinitely complex, yet simple. They were understood with or without understanding. You had to know how things “were” before they made themselves known, or you would regret having made the acquaintance.

There were jobs that were “gone” as she described it. Jobs that paid well right out of high school were “gone.” Jobs with security were “gone.” Before those jobs had “gone,” they had been scarce for black folks in her experience anyway, but now they were accessible in theory but nonexistent in reality. Now the door that would have been closed because of Jim Crow was open, but in the case of certain jobs, it opened into an abyss: sort of like an economic trap door. She didn’t say it exactly that way, but that was the gist of it. Read more…