Ugh 2020, am I right? It's been bad so far. But let’s face it, so have the last few years. At current we are dealing with a pandemic, the worse unemployment numbers in recent history and a pending housing crisis as millions are on track towards evictions by September. A disproportionate number of those to be affected by what you just read will be people of color. Black men and women are still being murdered by police and protesters seeking justice for those murdered are in turn being harassed and beaten, by the police. Our government is self-serving, our healthcare is inefficient, racism still exists. We’re only in July! I am not hopeful for the future. This is not the first time I've stated that sentence either. I'm also a Millennial. So, 2020 for me is just Season 2 of a dark humor series in which I’m a recurring character. Only this season I’m lucky enough to have not lost my job. The tradeoff for keeping my job this season, however, is that I’m an essential worker and get to work the entirety of a global pandemic. Insert face palm emoji here.
The ability to find a quality job America has been on the decline for quite some time. There are different reasons for that depending on the industry and such. When you think of a quality or good job, you’re likely not referring to the amount of overseas profitability a company has or even how enjoyable a place to work might be. No, you’re likely concerned with what you get out of the job, work put in versus benefits received, when you talk about a ‘good’ job. That only makes sense because the entire idea of a seeking good employment is to secure an income that covers your reoccurring basic needs and ideally offers some general concessions like benefits and/or job security. If your job solely provides an income that does in fact cover your reoccurring basic needs -think food and shelter- then it could be considered a decent job at least. Think of how far removed that line of thinking is from say your grandparents or maybe even your parents working years. Good jobs used to be ones in which a person could retire from, had job security and provided an income that an entire family could comfortably live on. This was often accomplished with just one fulltime earned needed. Compare that with today; do you or does someone you know work more than one job? How about retirement, how many people do you know have confidence that they will be able to retire at any age? These days it's not uncommon to have multiple jobs to cover basic needs or to have one fulltime job which does not cover basic needs.
We need to redefine what a ‘good’ job is. It should more closely resemble what it meant for past generations or realistically being improving in definition, should it not? The country is the richest it's ever been, with corporations racking in the big bucks annually. Even the requirements for todays ‘good’ jobs are more than what was required of the past. People today are seeking degrees sometimes just to get entry level positions, with entry level pay of course, in the hopes of simply getting ones foot in the door of a company so they can eventually get a good job. Going into student debt on a maybe this will pay off is risky and expensive. There are underemployed college grads out there. There are people who can't afford college either timewise or financially. America needs jobs to make the economy run, just ask any rich person who needs minions to sustain their profits. I think it's time for unionization amongst workers. We need to protect our jobs and get the necessities covered from these companies that are making billions in the face of rising unemployment, homelessness and food scarcity. I must work to survive, like most, but never have I ever thought that being in a good job was good enough. Nah, I want my friends and family to have good jobs too. I want people I've never met to have jobs that cover their basic needs. I want a return to the Unions hey-day. And I'll protest in support of such. I want a better way of life for my kid, and how else besides political activism and unionizing can you think? I'll start with these steps....you think of others. Together we can make a difference.
Black people in America are disproportionately under paid, underrepresented and unable to retire than our white counterparts. Why? The answer to that is complex but generational wealth has a lot to do with it. You know, that wealth we couldn’t build for hundreds of years when we were either enslaved or being paid in silver rather than gold. The same wealth that typically comes from homeownership, but ‘Redlining’ kept many blacks from being able to purchase a home and accumulate such wealth. Or even the 50% decrease in call backs for employment regardless of education or experience but based on your ‘black’ sounding name. And that systemic racism shuttered many attempts to take loans, of any kind, for immediate or future endeavors. The most current and obvious issue including the imprisonment and killing of black men and women. What realistically can be the stats of generational wealth when a group's main income providers are excessively over policed and put in jail resulting job loss or restrictions to their job access. Or when heads-of-households are murdered, and their children left to whims of a woefully underfunded system that doesn’t care to ensure their safety, security or education?
All people of color in the U.S. are experiencing some sort of institutional racism which affects their abilities. The degree to which they are affected may fluctuate per particular group (like Transgenders or Native American women) but at the end of the day, we are all fighting the same enemy. A system that tells us we are ‘less than’, not worthy, or that our issues are somehow solely our own fault. This being the same system that flooded inner city's with crack in the 80s and imprisoned anyone caught with it but recently has been touting that the opioid epidemic, largely affecting white folks, is a health crisis with very few ‘addicts’ being imprisoned or even ticketed. The system that has in word and practice for decades been preaching that white afflictions are due to economic downturns or bad luck, they are poor victims. But people of color are either criminals, lazy brought their issues on themselves. The practices, the segregation, the facts, have been circulating so long it's with the same complaints against it being brought up by the group of people makes it hard to imagine this is coincidence or that issues people of color face in America are not directly linked to racism. Since the beginning of these United States it's been a struggle for people of color. What's awful is every time we want any improvements for our situations it comes with the price of police brutality, imprisonment and sometimes our lives. Literally, every time. Look at any historical change in equality, policy or even employment in the US. What proceeded it? Protests which are always met with violence. That just tells me I'm not done protesting yet. If you need me, you know where to find me.
Protests amidst a pandemic
BLM protests have been getting a lot of attention currently. The CHAZ in Portland, Oregon has been a sustained protest for over a month. Native American protests continue for the right to their own land. You know what connects these besides the absolute unity between them which I am incredibly proud of? The use of unnecessary police force. Have you been on TikTok, or YouTube recently? Mainstream media may have lost interest but social media, from Boomers to Gen Z are posting, daily what's really happening. Funny, does any remember that short lived story of when that one white nationalist guy peacefully protested but was brutalized and arrested? Right, no one does. Because it's not happening. Not because they aren't protesting. There’s been several just this year in response to black people asking the police to maybe not kill us anymore. You may remember the recent protest of mainly white individuals literally screaming in the faces of cops at a blockade. Perhaps the protests in which several descended on a government building heavily armed and forced the early closure of Michigan's capital State. I'm not sure what these protesters issues were; I mean mine are are pretty well defined. Good working conditions, end racism, typical stuff. But these guys, they want haircuts and the right to not wear a mask for 20 minutes in a private business (which legally gets to dictate requirements in exchange for service). Not one of these armed Kyles or Karens have been harmed in their protests. I wonder what explicitly could be the differentiating factor. Odd.....
I've protested a handful of times prior to 2020. I protested after Eric Garners murder. I’ve protested with teachers fighting for adequate pay and tools. I walked off the job once to support the (failed) implementation of a union. This year I protested for PPE for Amazon workers. Now, I'm protesting for the life of people of color, during a pandemic, because systemic racism doesn’t take a day off. I shouldn’t either. A significant number of corporations around us waited till people were already dying to decide to implement mask requirements. Other companies, those who were able to largely capitalize off their industry sector, told scores of us who preferred to stay home that we were ‘essential’ workers. They weren't going to pay us as such and probably won't contract trace COVID cases. But they’ll sure call you a hero and then remind you that at least you still have a job. It’s perplexing to me what people are willing to put up with. Every day of this pandemic I've wanted to scream “eat the rich” or “lives over profit”. Every day as I go to work with majority people of color who hold these lower paid, under-appreciated positions. People who work just as hard as our counterparts and want the same things for our respective futures. People who like me are underemployed. And this is just the people who stayed employed so far. Because, to add insult to injury, a disproportionate number of the unemployment resulting from this ill handled pandemic are, you guessed it, people of color. We face death from work or starvation for unemployment. We face brutality for wanting equality and we face termination if we try to unionize. My hands are tied here. My only recourse is to protest for everything just, in a pandemic, till we get the concessions we deserve.
You know where to find me.
About the Author:
Pacey Hackett is a delivery driver for a parcel delivery company in Southern California. She's been active in the protests since long before the George Floyd uprising, and recognize that this is a moment of opportunity for workers. She collaborates with Bay Area Amazonians to create a culture of Revolutionary Praxis amongst workers throughout California, by serving as the Facilitator for the BAA holacracy. She supports our vision of being a just and equitable organizations that helps workers find their path to freedom, and is the foremost advocate amongst us for radical self-sufficiency.
About Bay Area Amazonians:
We're a worker lead holacratic collective working to bring economic justice to Amazon and beyond. We are currently fundraising for our Revolutionary Praxis pilot to support projects like this blog, and more! We've applied for a grant - but we're also looking to raise matching funds through this GoFundMe campaign. Please visit our website to learn more about our work, and subscribe to our newsletter to receive a notification when this blog is released! If you're in the Bay Area, join us Aug. 1st as we deliver a petition to Shut Down DSF4 for deep cleaning in defense of Black and Latinx lives.