Thank you to all of you who tuned into Wednesday's panel (which can be found here). We were so grateful for the quality and quantity of your input, and energized by our panelists’ discussion. It was an informative and impassioned 90 minutes. We are busy preparing this week’s episode -- please mark your calendars for Wednesday at 8 PM. You can register here.
In our second episode, Saru Jayaraman and Mily Treviño-Sauceda illuminated the impact of the current crisis on workers in the restaurant and agriculture industries. Jayaraman tracked the history of tip-based labor to the Reconstruction Era, when former slaves were forced to live entirely off tips thus prolonging their economic dependency on wealthy whites. The racialization of the minimum wage became even more glaring when Jayaraman identified that it was farmworkers and domestic workers, in addition to servers, who were excluded from even this small move toward a more egalitarian society during the New Deal.
Treviño-Sauceda built on these harrowing points, highlighting the particular marginalization of American farmworkers, many of whom are currently working in terribly unsanitary conditions, shoulder-to-shoulder, without a bathroom in sight as they toil under increased pressure from corporations. With 65% of farmworkers undocumented, they are largely unable to tap into the limited American social safety net, nor are they able to organize to secure their safety. These farmworkers epitomize the paradox of being “essential” while simultaneously expendable.
Naomi Klein elevated the precedent for the ways that government(s) are using this disastrous moment to push through legislation that would otherwise be roundly dismissed as dangerously authoritarian. She harkened back to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when pre-existing desires to privatize the city’s education system were realized in the midst of chaos. Likewise, in the midst of today’s mounting death tolls, we’re seeing a boon for fossil fuel companies, Silicon Valley, and the for-profit education sector.
Dara Baldwin deepened this critique of capitalism when she spoke of the cutthroat, Darwinian things happening in places like Alabama, Kansas, and Washington, which have coded profoundly ableist treatment rationing programs. Six states in total are setting up their hospitals to pick and choose who should be saved. As Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw noted, “We’re allowing essential rights to be placed out on a market basis. [And correspondingly,] marginalized people are left out.”
Janine Jackson critiqued, among other things, the media’s “lives v. livelihood” debate that we’ve seen play out in the past week. She pointed to independent media sources -- like fair.org -- that present a more robust, critical framing of our politics and society.
The rest of the conversation -- a 40-minute chorus of essential, intersectionally informed voices -- can be found in the attached video.
Over the course of the conversation, several of the panelists and attendees shared valuable resources for these uncertain times. You can find the full series’ compilation of resources here, and this week’s below.
Resources from Dara Baldwin:
Social Media Hashtags: Hashtags to follow the work of Dara and other disability rights advocates
Treatment Rationing Lawsuit(s): Details on the current litigation in several states challenging treatment rationing
Resources from Saru Jarayaman
An emergency fund created to help provide cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they aren’t getting to survive.