More than 100 years ago, black domestic workers in Georgia organized for better pay. Now they’re getting out the vote for Stacey Abrams.
All across Atlanta, hundreds of domestic workers have been knocking on doors for Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, hoping to turn her into first black woman in that role.
These domestic workers, mostly black women affiliated with Care in Action, the political arm of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, are using new technologies, like a smartphone app to identify the homes of voters of color.
But they’re also carrying on an 140-year-old tradition of domestic workers fighting for economic empowerment. Despite their marginalized positions and the many obstacles in their way, they insist on making their voices heard.
In July 1881, washerwomen in Atlanta, toiling outside in the hot summer as they lugged buckets of well water and scrubbed their white patrons’ laundry, finally had enough. They decided to go on strike to demand increased wages and respect for their work.
They and a few male allies mobilized supporters by going door to door in black neighborhoods, despite threats of being arrested for “disorderly conduct.” The women held meetings in churches, hundreds packing the pews. They formed the Washing Society, a cross between a labor union and a mutual aid organization, with subsidiaries in the city’s five wards.
And in the beginning of the Jim Crow era, domestic work was more than a system of labor. It also symbolized an ordering of society by race in which black people were always considered subservient.
When the strike broke out in July, the women faced a chorus of boos and laughs from employers, city officials, businessmen and reporters from the The Atlanta Constitution newspaper. The women were called “Washing Amazons.”
But the nickname soon proved to be apt. “I tell you, this strike is a big thing,” the police chief admitted after the first week when it was clear that there was no end in sight. Unlike other domestic workers, who labored in isolation in their employers’ homes, the laundresses shared work sites and were thus able to build solidarity.
In Southern cities, black domestic workers, including maids, nurses, cooks and laundresses, performed the most intimate and the most undesirable jobs for white families. They were paid substandard wages, expected to work long hours and were subjected to insults and sometimes even physical assaults.
For a long time, being online was where Aaron Philip felt most confident.
She began documenting her daily life on Tumblr when she was 11, writing about her love of anime and the experience of growing up in New York City with cerebral palsy. In those days, Aaron got online with a MacBook and a personal Wi-Fi hot spot at a homeless shelter in Manhattan, where she lived with her father after her medical bills became too expensive.
“I took to the internet to find community and build a space for myself where I could be loved and appreciated,” she said.
Despite her circumstances, Aaron projected a positive attitude online, once telling her followers: “Sometimes, it’s you who has to trigger your own happiness.”
Aaron, 17, now lives in an apartment in the Bronx. She doesn’t go anywhere without her iPad, which usually sits on a tray attached to her motorized wheelchair. She’s graduated from Tumblr to Twitter and Instagram, where she has become a champion of issues affecting gay, transgender and disabled youth.
Last fall, Aaron announced her ambition to become a model. “I bleached my hair, and I bought a new wardrobe with the intentions of going viral, which is crazy,” she said with a laugh.
Aaron’s confidence is no longer confined to the internet. To jump-start her modeling career, she used Instagram to send messages to fashion photographers and set up photo shoots, which landed her campaigns with brands such as ASOS and H&M. In July, she became the first black transgender model — and the first physically disabled model — to be signed to Elite Model Management.
The signing comes at a time when the fashion industry is starting to respond to decades of criticism for practices that made tall, thin, white women its standard for beauty.
Nearly 40 percent of the models at New York Fashion Week in February were models of color, up from 21 percent in 2015, according to an annual diversity report conducted by The Fashion Spot.
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So we have more evidence that a master of the dog whistle occupies the White House and that black athletes are a favorite target.
The president, Donald J. Trump, took out after LeBron James on Friday in a way that felt instinctive, as the hound dog pursues the hare. The N.B.A. star had criticized Trump, in measured tones, in an interview with CNN last week. When the anchor Don Lemon asked James what he would say if he were sitting across from Trump, James offered a thin smile.
“I would never sit across from him,” he said.
At 11:37 Friday night, after the interview had been rebroadcast, Trump replied with one of those tweets that offer an X-ray of his ego, psyche and soul. “LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
There was a breathtaking quality to this attack, and not just because white men demeaning the intelligence of black people is one of the oldest and ugliest tropes in American history.
James had appeared on CNN not to criticize this thin-skinned and choleric president but to talk of growing up poor with a single mom and of trying to pay back those who helped him by underwriting a public, noncharter school for at-risk youth in his hometown, Akron, Ohio. His foundation also committed tens of millions of dollars to help provide college scholarships for Akron public school graduates.
James will give every child in this school a bike and a helmet. He is a biking enthusiast for reasons that extend beyond cardiovascular benefit: From James’s earliest childhood days, when he lived in a tiny apartment just up an embankment from Cuyahoga Valley railroad tracks, the bike stood as a symbol of freedom. It allowed him to pedal out of his down-at-the-heels neighborhood and explore a larger world.
The bike and sport gave him freedom, he told Lemon, and allowed him to meet and befriend white kids and to see a world laden with possibility. “I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them,” he said of white kids, “and they got an opportunity to learn about me, and we became very good friends.”
You wonder how Trump could listen to James saying all of this and take away nothing but offense and pique. Then again, it’s difficult to know where the line between genuine annoyance and political calculation stands for a man who so willfully stirs the coals of class and racial resentment.
A white FDNY firefighter hurled a racist and sexist insult at an EMT while emergency medical services were attempting to bring power back to Starrett City residents last Sunday. According to the New York Daily News, during a heated exchange between an EMS crew and some firefighters, a white firefighter from Engine Co. 290 in Brooklyn lashed out a black female EMT.
“Just do your job, you black bitch,” he allegedly yelled at the EMT.
The Daily News reports that the EMT filed a complaint to the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity office the same day. A spokesperson for the department told the Daily News on Friday they were investigating the firefighter, but that he remained on active duty.
Allegations of racism and discrimination have long plagued “New York’s Bravest.” The department paid out a $98 million settlement in a suit fired by black and Latinx firefighting applicants who accused the FDNY of discriminating against them in the hiring process.
It seems EA Sports made a controversial edit to YG’s “Big Bank” single.According to Pro Football Talk, the track will appear in the upcoming Madden NFL 19 video game with some noticeable omissions. EA Sports has reportedly censored the record’s profanity, racial slurs, drug references, as well as Colin Kaepernick’s name. No, really.
The former 49ers quarterback is given a shout-out in Big Sean’s original verse: “Feed me to the wolves, now I lead the pack and shit. You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick;” however, a Twitter user has pointed out that the athlete’s name has been scrubbed from the Madden 19 soundtrack.
YG was apparently blindsided by the edit: “On my daughter. They ain’t run that by me,” he commented on Instagram. “That’s kold.”Big Sean was also apparently blindsided by the removal, tweeting that “nobody from my team approved any of this.”
EA Sports has not publicly addressed the censored line, but it’s hard to believe that the edit was a mistake. Pro Football Talk questioned why “Big Bank”—featuring Sean, 2 Chainz, and Nicki Minaj—was even used in the first place, considering the ongoing legal battle between Kaepernick and the NFL.
As many of you know, the 30-year-old free agent has accused the league, coaches, and owners of colluding against him, following his on-field protest against police brutality. Kaepernick claims various team owners have refused to sign him strictly because of his demonstrations. He remains unemployed.According to Pro Football Talk, Kaepernick was also edited out of the Madden 18 soundtrack. His name was also taken out of Mike Will Made-It’s “Bars of Soap” featuring Swae Lee.