From the Edge of the Ghetto: The Quest of Small City African-Americans to Survive Post-Industrialism

Colloquium | March 10 | 4-5:30 p.m. |  Shorb House, Latinx Research Center

 2547 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94720

 Alford Young, Jr., Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Departments of Sociology and Afroamerican and African Studies, and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

 Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

This talk draws from a study based on interviews with 103 working class and low-income African Americans from Ypsilanti, Michigan, a city of approximately 30,000 residents (about 6,000 of them African American). It explores how they make sense of work and work opportunity in a city that decades ago was the site of considerable industrial opportunity. That city sits on the borders of a thriving post-industrial small city as well as in the vicinity of Detroit, perhaps one of America’s strongest urban examples of declining post-industrialism. Accordingly, these residents discuss work opportunity while being uniquely situated between geographic sites of opportunity and demise. A strong gender distinction emerged in how they discuss their vision of future employment opportunities and their perceived places within them. Consequently, the talk presents a case for how configurations of race, class, and gender surface for lower-income African Americans in their struggle to come to terms with post-industrialism.