Once upon a time, American labor sold its soul for a bag of shiny baubles. The bag was gone in the blink of an eye: only one generation was actually born into that promise, which has not endured for even that single generation’s lifespan
YOU CAN’T MISS IT: FULL SPEED AHEAD
Yet, this historic anomaly is not remembered as a short, remarkable exception to several centuries of bitter and often violent class conflict. Instead, it has become the norm, elevated to a generalized and revered shared American past.
This is what is known to historians as a big fat lie.
While the unprecedented prosperity of the 1950s did propel thousands into the middle class, those thousands certainly didn’t include the majority of Americans. Huge numbers of people remained in poverty regardless of how big the billboards got, as the African-Americans photographed above almost certainly considered too obvious to remark…
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