By Michael Gecan
An established neighborhood organizer outlines the way to opposite the fifty-year decline in social mobility and financial growth.
Read or Download After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books) PDF
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Extra info for After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books)
By the mid-1980s it was all rapidly declining. Today, our home, along with thousands of others, is abandoned. A state social service center fills the old electronics plant. Tootsietoy’s products are mostly after america’s midlife crisis made in China. And the parish church and school have closed. In that pleasant synagogue meeting space, with the last of the new McMansions going up across the street, with 60,000 more workers commuting in to DuPage each day than commuting out, with the local football teams on the rise and the SAT and ACT scores still high, I suggested that perhaps the county had hit its own high-water mark and that without clear-eyed re-evaluation, it was poised, as Chicago had been in the mid-1950s, for decline.
Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist, writes that the probability of incarceration for young black men such as those on the West and South Sides of Chicago, is now greater than that of graduation from high school. Like the majority of voting Americans, I was glad to see the Bush era repudiated. And I have few doubts about the intelligence of the team the new president has assembled. But I worry very much about their two cultures—how they have been formed, about how they have prospered while so much of America has faded; how much evil they have tolerated or ignored; and whether they will grapple with deepening and multiplying institutional crises.
The organizer of the group, Amy Lawless, asked me to give a 30-minute talk about the state of the michael gecan county. I started off where I often do, by thinking back to the West Side of Chicago, to the corner of Ferdinand and Springfield near Garfield Park, where my family lived. In the 1950s, there was no way to know that we were living at the city’s high point. The massive economic, political, civic, and religious institutions had seemed as solid and stable as glaciers to those living with them or in their shadows.