Residents who know the ugliness of racial politics all too well blame automation, not immigrants, for the destruction and despair that Trump promised to fix. G ary, Indianais dying. Other parts are only slightly scarred, with boarded-up or burned-down houses sandwiched tightly between well-kept homes. Some parts are just dead: overgrown streets lined by empty lots and broken buildings. Gary, population 77, has been stigmatized for decades as a city of crime and drugs, although there are few outward s of either.
No clusters of kids on corners selling drugs, no visible piles of discarded needles. The city carries a heavy burden, but there is also a calmness and a functionality to it, despite its economic collapse. Although Gary is only 40 miles from Chicago, it has the feel of an isolated town. Walking the emptier parts, I see only a few solitary s of life: the rush of a passing police car, a grandmother walking her grandchild to a corner store. We chat for a bit. He grew up in Gary, left for the military and then stayed away for work but is now back to care for his mother. He tells me unprompted not to be worried about my safety, that the residents of Gary get a bad rap but that they are hard-working, polite and smart, despite what the town might look like.
I agree, not out of politeness but because it is my fourth day in Gary and I have seen the same. Those towns voted heavily for Donald Trump for president, but Gary is different. I find George Young, 88, drinking in the Chops Lounge with a group of longtime Gary residents — all of whom are vocally anti-Trump. Simple as that. This town was filled with them. I left Louisiana on December 10th, got here the 11th, got a job at the Sheet and Tool company on the 12th, started working on the 13th, and spent the next 42 years and two months here.
Guaranteed income pilot program launches in gary, indiana
We used to have 10 men doing cleanup in my job. Now one man operates a machine.
We used to have 10 men running the furnaces. Now robots run them. That view is a marked difference from what you hear from people in working-class white towns that voted for Trump, who are quick to as blame to immigration and jobs moving overseas.
Perhaps the tendency of workers in Gary to blame automation reflects a hesitation against scapegoating immigrants, since many know all too well the ugliness that comes from racial politics. Or perhaps it comes from listening to Democratic politicians, who have long talked of how technology has changed work. Alphonso Washington, 72, makes it clear he came to his views himself, not from politicians. I spent my life working, and then I retired. He points to a large vegetable garden next to his home, one of only a handful of empty plots on an otherwise filled block.
Alphonso was born in Gary, quit school in 11th grade, and walked straight into the steel mill. Jobs was everywhere. I worked 34 years as a union crane man. It is because of that word. What is it? Not far away, Maria Garcia, 74, is more opinionated and blunt about the ugly changes in Gary. She lives on a block that looks as if her home alone survived a tornado untouched. Her yard has a garden and decorative flourishes, an individual act of resistance against the surrounding decay.
She moved to Gary in to live closer to her brother who worked in the steel mill. She got a job working for the city and later married a steel worker.
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Mostly whites. Then inpeople started moving out. They started seeing black people coming in, and they said they would bring drugs and crime, so they left. Print that because it is true. He pivots into a frustration about Gary now, about the emptiness, the factories closed, and the shops boarded up. When the jobs left, the whites could move, and they did. He keeps saying he is going to bring jobs back.
Sure, and I am gonna win the lottery.
Those jobs are not coming back. Sitting next to Walter is hood friend, Ruben Roy, 85, who s him daily for coffee and a chat.
They got machines to shovel and pick now. The world has changed. Back in my day you needed a strong back and a weak mind to get a job. Now you need a weak back and a strong mind. Go get an education and go to where the jobs and opportunities are.
They are not here in Gary any more. That is just the truth. So much of our national dialogue is telling people living in towns like Gary to get the best education and then move. But that is hard in places like Gary, where educational opportunities can be far away or limited. Getting into one of the few elite schools is almost impossible.
The more common and realistic educational path weaves through community colleges and smaller state schools, and is accompanied by additional challenges from family and financial obligations. She was raised here by parents who were unable to finish a college education. When I ask her about leaving Gary, she is conflicted.
I wish people would stop killing each other. I know I might have to leave to get a better job, but if getting a better job means losing yourself, then it is not what I want to do. Family is too important to me. Moving is also far easier said than done.
For some, it means having to give up on a place and family that is all you know and all that values you. In Gary, the conflict between wanting and needing to stay, and understanding you might have to leave, is especially strong. Walking around Gary — seeing one crumbled home after another —it is hard to imagine anyone would want to stay here.
But some have little choice, confined by a lack of opportunity, unequal access to education, and racism. More importantly, many have made the best of their situations and turned the city into their home, despite its outward problems. She briefly left Gary to attend college in Arizona but came back to be with her mother.
I missed them.
We have been through a lot together. He is in and out of jail. There are just so many here. It is complicated for people who live in Gary. Do you want to go and do your own thing, or be with your family? They say places are what you make of them, but is hard to make something beautiful when it is shit. Pride and poverty in America Indiana. White flight followed factory jobs out of Gary, Indiana. Black people didn't have a choice. Chris Arnade in Gary, Indiana. Tue 28 Mar Nostalgia: the yearning that will continue to carry the Trump message forward.
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