The Grateful Generation says sorry

Here we are again. A bunch of brands Columbusing into Juneteenth and making it a holiday did not solve racism. We are more tired than we’ve ever been, and the inspiration of the week might finally explain why. But we are still taking stock and taking action every damn day, even if it means tapping into our very strongest Regina George energy just to mean girl people into better behavior.

The tactics don’t have to be noble when the battle isn’t. 

The Illinois unemployment rate is down, but the job cuts aren’t over yet. Northwestern University is looking to knock off another 150 to 200 people via buyouts, and WBEZ cut 12 jobs in the face of a deficit four times as big as the one caused by the 2008 financial crisis. Cool. Who needs information?

Also learnding: Cards Against Humanity, which has been outed as another racist, sexist trash heap of a company. Are you telling us that a bunch of suburban white kids who made a fortune turning Apples to Apples into something more offensive didn’t know how to build a supportive workplace? 

That honestly might be what passes for good news this week, given that the major hiring announcement comes from Amazon, which is looking to hire another 2,000 people for south suburban warehouses. 

OK, OK there’s some more good news, in that the Rockefeller Foundation is planning to invest $10 million across 10 cities, including Chicago, to help minority-owned small businesses get credit and keep their communities from getting gentrified by big box retailers. Worthy goals! But if you are literally a Rockefeller, don’t you think you could afford to flex more than $1 million a city? Because that’s not going to do much to fill a gap this size

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Digital Manager at Revolution Beauty
The U.K.-based cosmetics company formerly known as Makeup Revolution is looking to drive online growth in the U.S. It’s tough times for makeup, sure, but that $7 Shape Tape dupe is about as pandemic-proof as it comes.

Director of Content at UPshow
The company turns TV screens at venues — restaurants, gyms, stores — into marketing displays. So many questions, right?

Staff Writer, Brand Studio at Built In
Write branded content and social media copy for the tech jobs hub.

Director of Marketing & Communications at National Runaway Safeline
Act as marcom director, creative director, senior writer, graphic designer and head of social for the 45-year-old organization keeping runaway, homeless and at-risk young people safe. It's a big but important job, and rare in its mention of a TikTok strategy.  

Inspiration of the week

The 9-5 and Working Girl of our era was The Devil Wears Prada, which taught us that the best way to deal with a bad boss and a toxic workplace is to quit. But, if quitting wasn't an option — either because we cared too much about our careers or lacked the funds to just stop working — we were supposed to find ways to exist within the broken system, by heeding the unspoken rules, watching our own backs, and privately fixing things when they went wrong. Along the way, many of us did more than just survive a bad situation. We learned how to thrive within these environments, becoming devils ourselves. We, the Grateful Generation, owe you younger people in the room an apology.

—Journalist Connie Wang, writing on how older millennials actively propped up the systems holding us down by combining “the worst parts of modern careerism with recession-bred shell shock.” 

Ooo, ahh, too sharp, it burns! God, how much time and effort did we spend scrambling to make the rules work for us, instead of looking to rewrite them? We joke about our feminist socialist business newsletter, but you don’t have to go too far back in the archives to find the same kind of bullshit bootstrap rhetoric. It’s so, much, nicer to believe that underneath it all there’s some fucked up kind of meritocracy, if you just learn the tricks. It’s why we started this letter. We thought that by telling more people what doors might be opening and closing, we could help them get to the front of the line. We didn’t really think about who those people would be, or who they’d be putting behind them. 

It is true, you can beat the system. But you can’t ever believe for a second that it’s on merit. Succeeding under capitalism isn’t a skill, it’s a birthright. 

In my last job, I made less than the men I nominally managed and needed an intermediary to present my ideas to the CEO, lest we risk me being alone in a room with him. It didn’t occur to me to quit. When a mentor asked me to join the union, I said no, that I wanted to keep my managing editor title. I was 24, and I was grateful. 

I can’t go back. I can’t go back to Tuesday, when I listened to a man talk down the value of my company to a client. I will spend the rest of my life trying to remember to ask who, exactly, is on the team before I agree to be a team player. 

I just hope that’s not true for you. I hope this recession doesn’t make you grateful. I hope the fact that Breonna Taylor’s killers still walk free doesn’t make you give up. Because until the team includes everyone, it’s not worth playing for.

Forward this email to anyone who’s grateful. We can’t help them forget, but if they sign up here, we’ll remind them every day they don’t have to be.

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