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Moving Forward

We post this just days after Donald Trump’s electoral triumph. That stunning victory raises more questions than it answers.

To what degree is the election outcome largely a result of an anxious and enraged white working class, sections of which either endorse the Trump campaign’s virulent racism or are willing to overlook it in favor of his tough talk on free trade and a rigged political system? How should labor and progressive activists understand and respond to the racism the campaign both fueled and exposed? What did the 2016 election tell us about the wisdom and viability of the Obama coalition, which depends on demographic changes presumed to be advantageous, rather than on birthing a multi-racial working-class? What was the nature and extent of organized labor’s impact on the election, particularly in the rust belt?

The Murphy Institute’s community of students, faculty, and union and community-based allies will be tackling these and other related questions on this blog; in our classes; in the pages of our journal, New Labor Forum; and in our public programming, beginning with a forum on November 18th, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Election Debrief: A Reporter’s Roundtable.

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 27th, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

With this newsletter, we offer commentary and labor news on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, Hamilton. Haven’t seen it? Odds are most of you haven’t, but that won’t stop anyone from having an opinion of Miranda’s lyrical prowess and its ‘true’ political meaning. We’ll begin with a clip of Miranda performing Hamilton Mixtape at the White House back in 2009, when the show was still being written.

Donatella Galella and James McMaster both offer critiques that capture a central dilemma: while Hamilton exalts the working-class origins and anti-slavery sympathies of its central character, it also elides Hamilton’s anti-democratic views and Wall Street founding role and furthers the immigration myth of a lone hero overcoming all odds by his exceptionalism and hard work. It was recently announced that the cast of Hamilton will host a special show for the Clinton campaign, as part of a commitment to fighting Republican nominee Donald Trump. It’s ironic, since Trump could likely stand behind most of the political messages present in the musical. Since we thought it would be of particular interest to our subscribers, we’re also including an article from the New York Times by Michael Paulson about recent labor negotiations between the show’s producers and the cast over profit sharing.

Finally, we include a review by Sherry Linkon of two recent plays with working-class characters and conflict at their center: Lynn Nottage’s Sweat and Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew Both plays depict‘tenuousness of solidarity, the persistence of divisions around race and class, and the injuries of economic insecurity’, and serve as a reminder that workers and their experiences matter.

Contents:

  1. Video: Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam
  2. Racializing the American Revolution Review of the Broadway Musical Hamilton/ Donatella Galella
  3. Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is/ James McMaster
  4. ‘Hamilton’ Producers and Actors Reach Deal on Sharing Profits/ Michael Paulson, NYT
  5. Review of 2 plays: Lynn Nottage’s Sweat and Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew/ Sherry Linkon

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik via flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)