Books

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Tainted Tap: Flint's Journey from Crisis to Recovery

"After a cascade of failures left residents of Flint, Michigan, without a reliable and affordable supply of safe drinking water, citizens spent years demanding action from their city and state officials. Complaints from the city's predominantly African American residents were ignored until independent researchers confirmed dangerously elevated blood lead levels among Flint children and in the city's tap water. Despite a 2017 federal court ruling in favor of Flint residents who had demanded mitigation, those efforts have been incomplete at best. 

Assessing the challenges that community groups faced in their attempts to advocate for improved living conditions, Tainted Tap offers a rich analysis of conditions and constraints that created the Flint water crisis. Katrinell Davis contextualizes the crisis in Flint's long and troubled history of delivering essential services, the consequences of regional water-management politics, and other forms of systemic neglect that impacted the working-class community's health and well-being. Using ethnographic and empirical evidence from a range of sources, Davis also sheds light on the forms of community action that have brought needed changes to this underserved community."

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Hard Work Is Not Enough: Gender and Racial Inequality in an Urban Workspace

The Great Recession punished American workers, leaving many underemployed or trapped in jobs that did not provide the income or opportunities they needed. Moreover, the gap between the wealthy and the poor had widened in past decades as mobility remained stubbornly unchanged. Against this deepening economic divide, a dominant cultural narrative took root: immobility, especially for the working class, is driven by shifts in demand for labor. In this context, and with right-to-work policies proliferating nationwide, workers are encouraged to avoid government dependency by arming themselves with education and training.

Drawing on archival material and interviews with African American women transit workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Katrinell Davis grapples with our understanding of mobility as it intersects with race and gender in the postindustrial and post–civil rights United States. Considering the consequences of declining working conditions within the public transit workplace of Alameda County, Davis illustrates how worker experience--on and off the job--has been undermined by workplace norms and administrative practices designed to address flagging worker commitment and morale. Providing a comprehensive account of how political, social, and economic factors work together to shape the culture of opportunity in a postindustrial workplace, she shows how government manpower policies, administrative policies, and drastic shifts in unionization have influenced the prospects of low-skilled workers.