Barbara Ehrenreich, the outspoken novelist, activist, and journalist who challenged accepted beliefs about class, religion, and the entire concept of the American dream in such renowned works as “Nickel and Dimed” and “Bait and Switch,” has passed away at age 81.
Barbara Ehrenreich, muckraking writer and activist passed away
The author of more than 20 books on social justice issues, including women’s rights, inequality, and the unfairness of the American healthcare system, Barbara Ehrenreich, has passed away at the age of 81.
Barbara Ehrenreich, author who resisted injustice cause of death
According to her son, the author and journalist Ben Ehrenreich, Ehrenreich passed away early on Thursday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. She had just experienced a stroke.
She was clearly prepared to leave, Ben Ehrenreich tweeted on Friday. She wasn’t a fan of thoughts and prayers, but you may respect her legacy by battling fiercely and loving one another.
Who was Barbara Ehrenreich?
The family rules for Barbara Ehrenreich, a native of Montana from a union family, including “never cross a picket line and never vote Republican.” She was a longtime supporter of liberal causes ranging from economic equality to abortion rights.
She was a prolific author who frequently published books, newspaper and magazine articles. She did minimal wage jobs for “Nickel and Dimed,” one of her best-known works, so she could observe the sufferings of the working poor, whom she referred to as “the major benefactors of our society.”
She added, “They suffer hardship so that inflation will be low and stock prices will be high; they ignore their own children so that the children of others would be cared for; they live in inadequate houses so that other homes will be sparkling and faultless. Being a part of the working poor is like being a faceless contributor or benefactor to everyone.
Barbara Ehrenreich career
She came to the conclusion that all jobs need talent and intelligence and should be compensated accordingly.
“Nickel and Dimed,” one of more than 20 books authored by Ms. Ehrenreich, supported the drive for greater pay in 2001 as the effects of the dot-com bubble spread throughout the economy.
Throughout her literary career, Ms. Ehrenreich saw those millions while addressing a range of topics, including the job market, health care, poverty, and women’s rights.
According to her editor, Sara Bershtel, she was inspired by a desire to throw light on common people as well as the “missed and the forgotten.”
Ms. Ehrenreich family
Ms. Ehrenreich remembers thinking it was typical for a man over 40 to conduct perilous work and be missing at least one finger because she had grown up immersed in family history about the mines.
In the introduction of “Nickel and Dimed,” she stated, “So to me, sitting at a desk all day was not only a privilege but a duty: something I owed to all those people in my life, living and dead, who’d had so much more to say than anyone ever got to hear.”
Her parents were big drinkers, both of them. She referred to her mother’s anger as the “central force field” of her childhood home in a 2014 memoir. She thought that a purposeful medication overdose had caused her mother’s heart attack and subsequent death.
Ms. Ehrenreich college life
In 1963, Ms. Ehrenreich received her degree from Portland, Oregon’s Reed College. She earned a doctorate in cell biology from Rockefeller University in New York in 1968, where she also met John Ehrenreich, her first husband.
After finishing her studies, she worked as a budget analyst for the City of New York until joining the staff of the now-defunct nonprofit Health Policy Advisory Center in 1969. She started working as an assistant professor in the State University of New York, Old Westbury’s Health Sciences Program in 1971. However, the 1960s’ social and political unrest reawakened her indignation and spurred her urge to write.
Barbara Ehrenreich as Full time writer
Ms. Ehrenreich left her position as a teacher in 1974 to pursue writing full-time. In the 1970s, she sold a number of articles to Ms. magazine.
The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (1983), Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class (1989), The Worst Years of Our Lives: Irreverent Notes from a Decade of Greed (1990), and Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (1993) were among the many critically acclaimed books that came after (1997).
But what struck a chord with working Americans and marked a turning point in her career was her first-hand reporting in “Nickel and Dimed.”
After the publication of the book, Ms. Ehrenreich used her immersive journalism method to write books exposing the problematic aspects of American society. These included the 2005 books “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream” and “Smile or Die” (2009), which discussed the perils of “positive thinking” in the face of subpar healthcare.
She centred her 2014 memoir, “Living With a Wild God,” on her unsettling, unusual adolescent experiences.
She also held academic positions, teaching women’s studies at Brandeis and essay writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She also wrote articles and essays for The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Nation, and The New Republic.
Barbara Ehrenreich marriage life
In 1982, she and Mr. Ehrenreich divorced after their 1966 marriage. She is survived by their son Ben Ehrenreich, a writer, their daughter Ms. Brooks, a professor of law, their siblings Benjamin Alexander Jr. and Diane Alexander, as well as three grandchildren. She got divorced in 1993 from Gary Stevenson, the second husband she had.
Ms. Ehrenreich recently came to the conclusion that many people who were living in or close to poverty didn’t require another person to speak out about their hardships.
Follow us on Twitter