Today, September 1, 2014, is Labor Day; a national holiday in the United States. After reading articles of 21st century celebrations that forbid non-union workers from participating, it saddens me. We have made claims to a post-racial country. Talk of racism at this juncture are vehemently criticized, even in light of disparities in African American economic, social, and political power in relation to majority populations. The further insult come especially today when we as African Americans post messages, photos, articles, and other material congratulating America’s unions, when much of the substantive foundations in America was built on African American forced labor. We also forget the history of labor unions in this country.
Labor unions protected majority workers. African Americans were forbidden to join in its inception. I remember reading a paper on the struggle. During one strike, when African Americans were finally allowed to join American unions, the union forbade African Americans to picket alongside White members. After African Americans protested, they were allowed to form separate lines in order to participate in the union action. To this day, with the Affirmative Action policies in place, unions work with corporations to control the African American employee’s job security, positions, and employment situations, especially during economic upheaval in America.
So, why do we cherish entities that marginalize us throughout history? The story is long and contrived, but this video pays homage to the original laborers and the strongest population of people in America – African American workers. Thank you for carving out a beautiful, yet still volatile landscape for me to play.