Kim KellyApr 27, 2022
Fight Like Hell
The Untold History of American Labor
American fieldworkers rejecting government-sanctioned indentured servitude across the Pacific. Incarcerated workers advocating for basic human rights and fair wages. The queer Black labor leader who helped orchestrate America’s civil rights movement. These are only some of the working-class heroes who propelled American labor’s relentless push for fairness and equal protection under the law.
The names and faces of countless leaders have been sidelined in retelling stories of labour history: in particular, those of women, people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, sex workers, prisoners, and the poor. In this definitive and assiduously researched work of journalism, Teen Vogue columnists and independent labor reporter Kim Kelly excavates that untold history and shows how the rights the American worker has today—the forty-hour workweek, workplace-safety standards, restrictions on child labor, protection from harassment and discrimination on the job—were earned with literal blood, sweat, and tears.
Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor (Atria, 2022)—which would be of great interest to those interested in public history, following news of ongoing unionization efforts across the US, or seeking to better understand the intersections between gender, race, class, and labour—combines an optimism for the future alongside a clear-eyed assessment of the past and present.
Rine Vieth (https://rinevieth.carrd.co/) is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at McGill University, where they research the how UK asylum tribunals consider claims on the basis of belief. Their public writing focuses on issues of migration governance, as well as how inaccessibility and transphobia can shape the practice of anthropological research.