Greetings WCSA members!
The steering committee has been busy and productive. It is a pleasure to be president with such a thoughtful, hard-working, and committed steering committee.
We remain committed to encouraging young people to come to our conferences and to building the youth constituency in the WCSA. Toward this end:
1) We passed and executed our Young Scholars and Activists Initiative (YSAI), whereby we will give seven young scholars or activists a stipend to defray conference costs if they come and present at our conference. This is intended to be an ongoing initiative, to be offered at future conferences as well. 2) We have initiated programming for the conference aimed specifically at newcomers and graduate students. We have planned a pre-conference meet and greet on Wednesday from 5-6 pm, which all are welcome to attend. By offering this event early in the conference program, we hope to begin a conversation about our work and commitment to working-class studies that will continue throughout the weekend. We also still have travel grants and conference scholarships available based on need.
We are looking forward to the 2014 conference at SUNY Stony Brook, as well as our 2015 collaboration with the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Both conferences promise to be very exciting, and also to further our goals of increasing membership of not only young people but of scholars and activists of color, and GLBT scholars as well.
We are delighted that this spring’s conference will include a plenary of scholars of color, led by Aldon Morris of Northwestern University (with scholars Kris Marsh, Rashawn Ray, and Fredrick Harris). Next year at Georgetown, we will give a posthumous lifetime achievement award to GLBT and working class activist Felice Yeskel, once a lively and inspiring WCSA member until she contracted liver cancer and died a few years ago. Felice Yeskel was co-author of Economic Apartheid In America: A Primer on Economic Inequality (2000,revised 2005) with Chuck Collins. Felice founded (and ran) the Stonewall center at U Mass, Amherst, as well as the non-profit Class Action, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of class. She was given an award by the American Psychological Association for raising awareness of class and classism in America. The WCSA is much poorer without her presence.
There is still much work to be done. Our memberships are down and we urge all to renew your memberships and encourage others to join. Remember, your membership dues allow us to give financial aid that enables people to come to conferences who might not otherwise be able to attend. If we really want to grow our organization we need to help those who may not have funds provided by their schools (if they have academic work), or activists and independent scholars who may not work at schools. We also urge you to consider a three-year, institutional or lifetime membership (respectively $60 to $125—based on employment status, $100 per year, or $1000) if possible.
Class in all its forms—economic inequality, income disparity, sociological and psychological disadvantage and disrespect—have reached epic proportions in our larger world. Working class studies, making working class lives visible and advocating for the rights and respect that working class people deserve, is more important than ever (in our brief history as a field). Our organization needs to expand and to reach out to many more people. It is my hope the our collaboration with LAWCHA is just a beginning of collaborations with other organizations that care about class and the damage it inflicts on human beings and societies.
It has been my pleasure to be a small part of that effort. Finally, I want to thank the membership for the opportunity to be president of the WCSA and the steering committee for their hard work. Working with our excellent steering committee is a joy. Fighting to expand and build our field is very meaningful and rewarding for me personally and I hope I have given the WCSA even just a fraction of what working class studies has given to me over the years.
In solidarity, with inspiration and love,
P.S. Let’s be in touch!