Four JSF fellows joined 30+ Humanity in Action Senior Fellows, board members and friends, in a video conversation with the author and renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschield to learn more about her book, Strangers in Their Own Land. The book profiles members of the ‘American Right’ living in rural Louisiana.
Hochschield spoke about the importance of understanding the existence of “deep self” within us, which often is deaf to facts, numbers and opinions contrary to our worldview. She painted the picture of frustrations many of the individuals profiled in her book have with the “line cutters” — members of the marginalized communities they see as unfairly benefiting from federal government’s affirmative action policies (many of which she herself has fought as a member of the civil rights movement). Initially she assigned their feelings to greater class and economic disparities in the US, but later in the discussion also highlighted that race is also often the “silent” factor.
Going forward, to bridge the gap between the coastal liberal elite and a growing part of the country which is feeling “left behind,” she suggested thinking about different approaches to affirmative action as well as engaging with the far-right communities. One successful example she pointed to was a partnership between Democratic congressperson from Silicon Valley who partnered with a Republican congressperson from rural Kentucky to provide coding/tech training to people in economically depressed areas and a pathway to job in the tech industry.
In the discussion following the talk, several interesting projects were mentioned by participants on which we plan to follow up to learn more about. For example, a young woman from Humanity in Action is organizing non-violent communication workshops to address racism across the US.
Humanity in Action plans to have monthly video sessions with interesting speakers in the future and Bojan intends to notify JSF community members about them.