One of my biggest fears about Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday was commercialism. Why celebrate the freeing of Texas slaves when you can get great discounts at Macy’s?
Federal holidays have become synonymous with sales.
Federal holidays are marketer’s show-boating just how good they are at enticing people to salivate about 60% off an item they didn’t want. The holiday’s meaning disappears the moment that bright red poster starts to scream “SALE!”
Take Labor Day for example.
Did you know that Labor Day was created because workers were treated like crap? From around 1882 through the Industrial Revolution, poor men, women, and children of ALL race where working 14-16 hours days, without breaks, water, and in some cases ventilation. So Labor Unions were formed to protect, fairly pay, and respect the American worker.
Needless to say, they met opposition. Big Business (think Amazon or Apple fulfillment centers) to law enforcement to the Federal Government wasn’t having it. And in some cases went as far as bombing coal miners to stop them from unionizing.
Don’t take my word for it.
Labor Day is not about a sale.
It’s about American working-class people organizing to protect their dignity, health, and provide for their families. As Black women, we know how easy it is to be exploited because you have mouths to feed. Labor Unions were created to stand up for the exploited. But we never really talk about that while we are being seduced with great savings.
So I can not say “Happy Labor Day.” I know too much.
What I can say is this:
I witness and celebrate all the workers who go unsung because you don’t have a voice. I thank you for doing backbreaking work for my quality of life. I know you need that job. I know you are not compensated as you should be and I know it sucks.
I used to scrub floors and pick up the trash off the highway to get paid a few dollars an hour just to survive. I feel you.
I am not a union but I am a person who grew up dirt poor and knows the pain and the pride of grit. I thank you for loving your family so much that you would keep working in hazardous conditions for damn near pennies.
I admire you.
I look up to you.
I celebrate you.
Dr. Venus–a poor girl from the streets of Baltimore. #dontletthedrfoolya