A Lifelong Debt

Barbara Ehrenreich

I first met Jimmy Weinstein in about 1964, through my then-boyfriend Marty Sklar, who was an editor, with Jimmy, of the journal Studies on the Left. As a 23-year-old political naif, I was baffled by the gender exclusiveness of the Studies’ crowd – which was far worse in this respect than my parents’ rather conventional social set – but also fascinated by their intelligence and zeal. I do remember that Jimmy always spoke to me more or less as an equal, which meant a lot to me at the time. A couple of years later, after undergoing my own radicalization in the nascent anti-war movement, I went to work (as a volunteer) with a New York-based group called Committee for Independent Political Action, started by Jimmy and Stanley Aronowitz, where my job was to go door-to-door in a low-income Hispanic neighborhood. Believe me, I learned a lot more from the folks whose doors I knocked on than they did from me. And of course, I continued to learn from Jimmy.

When he started In These Times he took a huge risk by giving me a column. That was my first regular outlet, and my chance to flex my talons as a satirist. Eventually I went on in search of something that would help pay the bills, but my debt to Jimmy remains.

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Barbara Ehrenreich, a journalist and author, first wrote for In These Times in 1977. Her recent books include Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, and Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. She has been a regular contributor to The Progressive, Harpers, Time and In These Times, where she is a contributing editor.
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