Roseanne and the Changing Working-Class

When ABC’s Roseanne premiered in 1988, it arrived in the era of Reaganomics with policies that stripped power from unions, sent blue collar jobs overseas and flattened wages throughout the Rust Belt.[1] Roseanne Barr, creator and star, argued the show intended to “speak directly to working-class viewers in an active feminist voice over the people’s airwaves about the true nature of Reaganomics on their lives.”[2] For nine years, audiences watched as the Conner family scrapped to get by in a world that never let them get ahead. Only in the final season, when Roseanne wins the lottery, do the Conners experience... Read More

Roseanne: A Working-Class (S)hero Returns

The Roseanne reboot promises to tackle love and politics. Pack your bags and hit the road, folks. On  March 27th we’re going back to Lanford. The return of the hit 80s/90s sitcom Roseanne is the latest in a wave of nostalgic revivals hoping to recapture our hearts. And while other reboots have stirred up controversy, few have been as hotly anticipated – and debated – quite like Roseanne has. Here’s what we know: 20 years have passed since we last saw Dan, Roseanne and their blue-collar brood. Dan is alive. Jackie is a Nasty Woman. The kids now have kids... Read More

Social Class, Equality at Heart of International Women’s Day

There are countless reasons that people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). The day provides a focus and opportunity to celebrate women’s contributions to society, highlight our struggles for equity, point to the huge pay and educational discrepancies suffered by women and girls, and thank women for fostering the well-being of families and communities. But, many people are unaware of the origins of IWD. Women at the turn of the 20th century – when the nascent stirrings of the later celebration began – were not only seeking to address gender inequity but social class inequality as well. IWD grew out of the need for better... Read More

American Exceptionalism Leaves International Women’s Day Blank

When searching for information about International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018, I knew I would not find details from the U.S. government. It doesn’t coordinate IWD events or recognize it as an official holiday, unlike 26 nations that include Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, Russia and Uganda. However, I was surprised when I had to make a concerted effort to locate the United Nations website even though it established the day in 1975. The UN IWD site also links to UN-Women and its ongoing “Planet 50-50 by 2030” campaign for gender equality. But a private partnership in Australia, supported by several large corporations,... Read More

Janus v AFSCME:

What the Supreme Court May Strip from Workers The roar of the approaching storm can be both heard and felt in workplaces across the United States. The prospects inherent in a much anticipated – and in many places feared – Supreme Court decision in the case Janus v AFSCME has the political Right giddy. Among workers’ rights advocates, there is trepidation. Part of the problem is that the political Right misconstrues what is really at stake should the Supreme Court side against workers and their unions. Presenting the debate over union fees paid by non-union workers in the public sector... Read More

Malnourishment: A Case Study on U.S. Food Insecurity

The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees – at least in theory. Pat’s Story The Personal Is Political In 1998, I was hired to interview women on welfare to find out how they were making ends meet after Bill Clinton signed the 1996 “Welfare Reform Act.” The act essentially gutted safety nets and imposed sanctions on women who... Read More

Addressing Food Insecurity on Campus

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had been both poorly understood and oftentimes neglected until very recently. I think the overwhelming view of the administration was that students were, in general, getting enough to eat through the campus meal plans or retail dining options at the student center or elsewhere. Progress towards addressing food insecurity on the campus only began in summer 2017, with the creation of the Food Insecurity Committee that put students, staff and... Read More

Mirroring Administrative Attitudes: One Year Into Trump’s Rhetoric

Kalkaska, or Trout Town USA, is a picturesque northern Michigan town touting a population of just over 2,000. Located in the snow belt with its Trout Festival and Winterfest the area offers a modest place for a modest life. Growing up there and graduating in 2009, life seemed simple enough. Of extremely modest means, my family was one of many who lived below the poverty line within the county. Yet, there was indeed “space to grow” as the town slogan promised. Now the mindset seems to no longer be growing. The days of my learning in the halls of Kalkaska... Read More