Comp Reading Continued
In the last few days I read Like A Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World and Jason Sokol's There Goes My Everything. I'm not really reading for comps in any kind of order, so it feels a little magical when the reading lines up nicely. I wasn't sure how I was going to react to Sokol's book-was he asking me to sympathize with white southerners during the Civil Rights movement? But it's a great book-does a great job of humanizing white southerners without assuaging them of responsibility or taking away the agency of African American activists. There is a bit of southern exceptionalism in his take on the south which I found problematic-there were civil rights issues in the North too-but he really effectively argues for the CRM as transformative for the South as a whole. Just because he humanizes southern whites, doesn't mean he asks us to sympathize with them-it just makes them for human figures.
Like A Family super different. I was sure I would love it before I started reading it and I did. It's methodologically fascinating and I kind of can't believe it was written so long ago-I feel like a book like this would still be kind of ground breaking today. I don't like the lack of exploration of race-I feel like they could have explored the segregation of mill towns more effectively-but like Sokol, the authors of Like a Family really tried to get away from flat images of white southerners. The drawn out relationship between rural life and industrialism was also so interesting-I've been thinking about Appalachia and the white working class a lot these days- (in post Hillbilly Elegy America) and a lot of the point being debated now come through in this book.
So anyway, I think I am going back to the CRM for the rest of this week.