In case you missed last week’s post, “Actual progress for the new Obama WPA?,” you can now just go to “Feminist Historians for a New New Deal” at the Center for Research on Women & Social Justice. From the press release:
An open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, initiated by several historians specializing in the New Deal, urges Obama to avoid the discriminatory components of Franklin Roosevelt’s programs in designing a stimulus package to address the current economic crisis. The letter has collected more than a thousand signatures from scholars of American history.
Noting that today’s stimulus package may focus heavily on construction to address the nation’s crumbling material infrastructure, the historians point out that American social infrastructure is crumbling just as badly. They call for jobs in education, health care, child and elder care, and point out that green and sustainable energy policy requires educators as well as construction workers.
The letter recalls both the achievements and weaknesses of New Deal stimulus programs, focusing particularly on discrimination against women in the public jobs programs (see below for full text of the letter).
“For all our admiration of FDR’s reform efforts,” the historians write, “we must also point out that the New Deal’s jobs initiative was overwhelmingly directed toward skilled male and mainly white workers. This was a mistake in the 1930s, and it would be a far greater mistake in the 21st century economy, when so many families depend on women’s wages and when our nation is even more racially diverse.”
With so many female breadwinners, the country cannot afford an exclusive emphasis on construction, which remains a heavily male-dominated field. All jobs need to be open to a diverse workforce, they agree, but a more diversified jobs strategy will create immediate opportunities for all, they add.
The letter, from Feminist Historians for a New New Deal, can be accessed on line at
Click here (or on the link above) to read the letter drafted by Eileen Boris, Linda Gordon, Jennifer Klein, and Alice O’Connor, and learn about other ways to take action. Over 1,000 of us signed on.
Thanks everyone, and happy end-of-the-semester! I’ve got to get back to my little red (cook) book to finish up all those delicious holiday cookies and treats. (Do those little holly cookies that you make with butter, marshmallows, cornflakes, green food coloring, and red hots count as cookies or candy?) Rose at Romantoes and Erica at the good old days have already posted about some culinary sentimental journeys–divinity and Grandma’s fruitcake! Bon voyage, and bon apetit, time travelers–let us know more about what the 1940s tasted like!