Never allow your circumstances to dictate who you are. T. D. Jakes, “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” Sermon at Azusa Conference, 1993

The previous chapters of this book have emphasized the demographic, religious, and cultural transformations that have taken place over the past several decades-the intended or unintended consequences of the 1965 Immigration Act, the aftermath of 9/11, ongoing developments in American gender politics, recent Supreme Court decisions-and the impact of those changes on questions of American national identity. But of course these cultural and political changes have not taken place in a vacuum. Anyone who has lived through the past decade knows that overshadowing almost all public debate have been the enormous challenges that the Great Recession has posed for Americans of all groups, but particularly for those at the margins (Mishel et al. 2012).