During my trip home last week, I made a point of visiting the Everett Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Both sides of my clan worked in the factories of the Merrimack Valley until they went south and then abroad for cheaper labor. It’s an American story—the one that helped elected Donald Tr%mp because historically the exploited have blamed each other rather than the kleptocracies that discard them like Matrix workers. I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I’ve been thinking about how proud my people were to work in the mills–proud to make things with their hands, proud to support themselves with honest work, proud to belong to the motherfucking UNION. Some found their way after the factories shut down but more sank into the underclass that replaced the working class of our country: joblessness, homelessness, incarceration, addiction, public assistance, and food insecurity. Devastating and devastatingly business-as-usual in what remains of our democracy.
The Everett Mills was where my grandfather worked and where historic progress–including a kick-ass strike–was made. Out of operation for half a century now, it houses an antique mart and the ghosts of a thousand immigrants who made this country beautiful. I cried as I walked through its wide, echoing hallways.