Episode 1: Work and Your Worth
References and resources
- Off-Kilter Podcast: The Racist Roots of Work Requirements
- “Our Obsession with Black Excellence Is Harming Black People,” Forbes
- Policy Brief: Guaranteed Income; LibGen’s full Slate of Guarantees
- Kellogg Workers Ratify a Revised Contract After Being on Strike Since October
- “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating,” The Atlantic
Kendra Bozarth 0:09
You’re listening to Racism Is Profitable, a podcast by and for people of color that aims to dismantle the assumptions that fuel the oppression economy. Your hosts are Jeremie Greer and Solana Rice, the co-founders and co-executive directors of Liberation in Generation Action. Let’s get it.
Solana Rice 0:27
On today’s episode of Racism Is Profitable, we’re talking about how work determines our worth. From the expectations of grind culture to an obsession with Black excellence, the oppression economy tells us that we’re only valued — and valuable — if we work hard and produce, produce, produce. Part of the same flawed belief system as personal responsibility, we’re expected to meet impossible standards determined by who you are, where you’re from, what job you have, and what systems you have access to. It’s time to smash the illusion that keeps us building wealth for other people, when we deserve to build it for ourselves. Hear this: You are and always have been worthy of safety, security, and economic wealth and well being. Lauren Jacobs, Executive Director of PowerSwitch Action, joins us to call out this lie and name our truths.
Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson 1:23
“I go out of here every morning. I bust my butt putting up with them crackers every day ’cause I like you. You about the biggest fool I ever saw. It’s my job. It’s my responsibility. A man is supposed to take care of his family. You live in my house, fill your belly with my food, put your behind on my bed, because you’re my son. Not because I like you. Because it’s my duty to take care of you. I owe a responsibility to you. Now let’s get this straight right here and now before I go along any further. I ain’t got to like you. Mr. Randall give me my money come pay day because he like me. He give it to me ’cause he owe me. Now I done give you everything I got to give you. I give you your life! Me and your mama worked that out between us and liking your Black ass wasn’t part of the bargain. Now, don’t you go through life worrying about whether somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they’re doing right by you. You understand what I’m saying? Then get the hell out of my face and get on down to that A&P.”
Jeremie Greer 2:25
So Solana, I feel like we need a monument to the Black parent that coined the phrase, “if you live in my house…”.
Solana Rice 2:36
If you live under my roof,
Jeremie Greer 2:39
eat my food. So we didn’t hear that part of the scene in that clip. But it was like The Talk, right? Like every Black child has gotten that talk that we just heard. By the way, that was August Wilson’s classic play “Fences” there, and who we heard was Denzel Washington. And that talk is about like what you should expect out of life. It’s, it’s about what work should mean. And it is about that, like really nasty transaction that like your work is for somebody else. And for some other means other than yourself. And that it is about survival.
Solana Rice 3:23
Yeah, I mean, it so speaks to this idea of parents, as providers, especially Black parents, as providers. And to me it calls into question like, when do we get to just be parents? When do we just get to be mothers and fathers? That actually, you know, do like our love our children, and also have a responsibility, right? But you know, that responsibility weighs really heavy, and we take it to work, and we bring it home. And I remember my dad saying, like, I have one job, and that’s to go to work and put food on the table for you. Yeah,
Jeremie Greer 4:07
so you can go to college, you can do it. Right.
Solana Rice 4:11
And I had one and I had went to school I had one job that was to go to school, and you know, do well in school and not to talk in class. I talked a lot in class I got in trouble a lot for talking. But but I was actually helping other students; that’s what was so ridiculous, I was helping them learn. I still got in trouble. But I had that one job right. And I I remember telling my dad like, I remember walking downstairs in the basement and being like, I I finally understand what you mean Dad and I appreciate your sacrifice day in and day out. And it actually kind of broke my heart that he had to do that every day.
Jeremie Greer 4:52
And when he says the words I’m busting my ass for them crackers every day and dealing with that stuff in a crackers every day, he’s bringing in really, what is the reality of this, this conversation that we’re having around why racism is profitable, because what he’s saying is, I am busting their ass to make them better to make them wealthy to make them happy. And I’m doing that so that we can survive. And that that is the relationship, that is the crux of what it means to work in this economy is that I’m going to bust my hump for them, so that I can survive; so I can provide for you; so that I can provide a roof, a bed. And the thing is, he’s clearly aware of that. But the reality is the systems of white supremacy are also aware of that deal.
You know, not long ago, I was on Capitol Hill with a group of tenants who were going to Capitol Hill to exercise their freedom, as members of this democracy to influence their Congress. These are tenants who have been evicted during a pandemic, and they’re being organized by national People’s Action Homes Guarantee campaign, shout out to them, they’re doing awesome work. And I was just, I was there and I stood off to the side because the organizers are doing their work and I didn’t want to get in their way. And if you’ve ever been on Capitol Hill, there’s always these like, black suits, striped shirt, red tie, like all white guys kind of standing, you know, waiting to go into the to the Rayburn House building. And the tenants had these signs because they had just come from a rally on Capitol Hill. And they had you can’t take those into the building. So they put them off to the side. And on them they said “cancel rent,” right? They said cancel our rent. And I remember sitting in I heard one of these dudes was, you know, black suit, white striped shirt, red tie, like, like, like, if you could dress up white supremacy, like it was these dudes. Right? And he’s, he, I heard one said to the other, “if they have the time to come here, they have the time to work so they can pay their rent.” And I just heard that it. Yeah. I was happy, actually, they didn’t hear because it would have thrown off their flow of what they were doing. And they were doing important work. But I heard it. And it was like another example to me the like they understand the deal. Because the deal has been structurally created that like you get to survive, meaning you get to have a home over your head, as long as you’re working on our behalf.
Solana Rice 7:34
That’s right. Yeah, I’m so glad that the tenants did not hear that. Because, like, who knows what would have happened? Oh, so it’s, there was some shit on Capitol Hill. It’s just like, it’s just demoralizing. Also, right. It’s it’s a real blatant bold statement of “who are you to feel like you have the economic leeway to play on this turf, on this turf in in the people’s house?” Right, like supposed to be the people’s house? And no, you get to you get to have that say whether you’re at work or not. And actually, when you’re at work, you should be able to actually have a say, as well. Right. And I, I think what’s what’s striking to me, too, about that Fences scene is, is that there’s a certain type of work that we’ve acknowledged as well, you know, he, he really says, like, you know, “I’m the provider in this house.” You know, I grew up in that in that way, too, right? My dad was like, I’m the provider. And he took a lot of pride in that. But honestly, like, my mom did a lot of care work, right. And that was really undervalued. And I think I obviously in the moments that we’re in right now and a whole bunch of conversations about paid leave and sick leave and care and care as work. We have to also acknowledge that we’re in a little bit of a catch 22, right. We’re like, “Y’all need to get jobs. Everybody needs to get a job. Oh, but if you do this kind of work, we’re probably not really going to pay you all that well. Oh, if you do this kind of work. Oh, you don’t get paid at all. Oh, if you do sex work, like, forget about it. You’re an outcast.” And we just haven’t we it’s, it’s this real bind of like, you’re either working for someone else or you’re not doing or you’re not contributing, and that’s like, and that’s like, ingrained from our history. Martha Washington, George Washington’s wife, had a great I’m not even going to quote it word for word, but it was basically she was talking about her slaves.
Jeremie Greer 9:44
Because of how frickin absurd it is like that these past lips of somebody. Right?
Solana Rice 9:51
Great because it was bold-face white supremacy like bold faced like, Oh, this is what you really think this is what the nation is really founded on. She said, “You know, my slaves, they’re, they’re great. But if they’re left to their own devices, they will just make money for themselves.” I mean, I’m paraphrasing here, but like, one, how ridiculous to reel it to say in one hand, they’re lazy, and on the other hand, say, but they’ll do things, they’ll just not do them in service of me and, and making me a whole bunch of money and making me powerful. And that that’s the paradox that we’re reliving. And we realize, oh, yeah,
Jeremie Greer 10:32
It shows how deeply ingrained this is . Like this is from the beginning of time, this idea of compulsory work that you must have a job and you must produce for the systems and structures of white supremacy started with the institution of actual compulsory work ,forcing people to work through enslavement. And then it goes on today with you know, if you have a, if you’re an immigrant have a work visa, your status in this country is tied to the work that you do here. If you receive public benefits from the government, your ability to receive those benefits are tied to the work you do. And then we reinforce it, I’d say as Black people when we start talking about grind culture, and about you know, the the whole idea that you have to be in the hustle and you have to be grinding, and all of these things. And it gets to the point where we’re reinforcing a narrative that doesn’t serve us. It’s serving again, the systems of white supremacy that are profiting from the idea that Black people, Latinx people, people of color in this country, our presence here only is determined and our survival is only determined by how much work we do for the wealth of others.
So for our first episode of Racism Is Profitable, our friend and forever truth teller, Lauren Jacobs is here. She is the executive director of PowerSwitch Action, a member of the Athena coalition, and just an all around brilliant badass. What’s up Lauren?
Lauren Jacobs 12:10
What’s up Jeremie, Solana? How’s it going?
Jeremie Greer 12:14
Hey, we’re excited we love that we’re here having this conversation. So I’m gonna we’re just gonna dive right in you know, we just you know, in opening the show, we watched a scene from Fences you know the the “Why don’t you like me?” scene where the father is given this like really stark kind of real conversation with his son about like, look, this is what work is like, this is what it means to work and this is why we’re doing it. And it’s a real like, we have to do this to survive kind of message comes through that and would love to hear just you personally, like where in your life did you get this sense that it like work is a compulsory thing that we have to do to survive?
Lauren Jacobs 12:59
Yeah, I mean, I, I’m sure I’m gonna feel like this is one of those experiences that may span diaspora for at least those that landed within the contiguous US states. And certainly at a certain age, there was a you know, from my grandparents to my aunties, my uncles, there was two, there’s two parts of this. There’s one about like, you know, keeping a roof on your head, food on the table. There was a lot of realness in that clip of that clip in that dialogue. I feel like not that exact speech. But
Jeremie Greer 13:36
but your dad didn’t tell you “I don’t like you?” He didn’t tell you that?
Lauren Jacobs 13:42
It may have been dropped. But, um, and then there was the other side of it, which was the respectability piece of him. Right, about proving our worth, proving our ability to be equal with why folks through how hard we worked and never been late, showing up, always being impeccably dressed. I mean, all the all the things that I think a certain I know, I think I am dating myself here, that’s okay. It’s a feminist act. Being very firmly generous, there was a way in which, you know, we were sort of trained about like, how you show up to an interview, dressed a certain way and not being late and getting everything done and all that.
Jeremie Greer 14:35
Yeah, yeah. Putting on your church clothes is like your your first training to like go to the interview, right? Yeah.
Solana Rice 14:41
I remember when I decided to.
Jeremie Greer 14:49
Solana Rice 14:53
Smell like a candy factory. We’re still working on that. [More laughter and jokes between the three.] Um, so I am curious about PowerSwitch, like, how do you challenge this narrative there? Especially around work as worth right? How is it showing up at PowerSwitch?
Lauren Jacobs 15:26
Well, I mean, this is a complicated thing, because you’re trying to fight within the bounds of a system that’s just, from roots up, is not constructed to recognize our dignity and our value just as precious lights and lives on this planet. Recognizing that each individual is precious and special, you know, shows through and work shows through in the fact that we have unhoused folks living in our society with so much food and so much wealth while people are going hungry, it just are in so many areas. So there’s both thinking about how people are working and they are producing wealth for the quote unquote, economy, but specific corporations and specific billionaires and rich folks in particular, and that there’s fighting on that, that work clearly has value, because you wouldn’t get away from this nonsense about job makers, it was like you didn’t make nothing. You needed people to work in order for you to do your business, not a favor you were doing for somebody. Because if you didn’t need me, you would cut me in a heartbeat. So there’s fighting on those issues and fighting for work that is paid and compensated and that the value that it’s producing is recognized. And then I think there’s going to fold and PowerSwitch that we’re trying to also think about trying to think about the future we really want. Like when we really breathe into what we are naming and calling along with a lot of other words, “multiracial feminist democracy,” sort of a care and preciousness of people and community centered view of how life should be lived and how communities could be structured. Then you start to think about, you can start to live and think about, okay, how am I both fighting for the work people are doing right now to be recognized and compensated, but how am I also talking about, people don’t have to work in order to have to roofs over their head, to have food on their table, to have access to health care, like, that’s just things we owe each other as human beings on this planet.
Jeremie Greer 17:42
Yeah tell me, I want to dig it out a little bit. So it’s just like, of course, being Black or being not a white man in America is like a walk through contradiction, right? But this is huge contradiction of like, you have to work. There’s all that there’s all those the grind culture, there’s all the like hustle, like, from, from hip hop music to, to what you see on television. And so it’s like, just like, you gotta you gotta grind, you got to survive. And then there’s also this kind of sense of like, Yeah, but there’s this work that you don’t really shouldn’t be paid for. We’re not even gonna call work. And I just, what is the like, ramifications of that on people to have to walk that contradiction every day? Yeah.
Lauren Jacobs 18:30
I mean, I’m gonna do the thing of answering your question, even with a question, I want to add a say like, Well, how do you also throw into the work that people are doing that’s not even recognized? Because I think, yeah, the Black community we talked about, like, We need jobs, you need a job, like, people are working all the time every day, it may not be a W2 job, but I was like, Yeah, you know, somebody is in their house doing hair. Somebody is like, you know, selling surplus stickers. And like, they’re just people are doing stuff, right? Someone’s doing our jobs on people’s hair, someone is the car guy in the neighborhood like, so how do we also bring that into this conversation? And I’m going to try to send my answer your question. I do. And I do think this is also trying to get at some of the questions or you know, what I do think some of the conversations are starting to peak right now coming out, at policy level on build back better and care sector jobs and thinking about this. So there’s some question about people wanting to do, I think this sort of hard wanting to do work that feels like it’s making a difference and really contributing versus the grind. Because I would also say, you know, despite the sort of grind, hustle, do it. There’s also that recognition of the contradictions. And the fact that you often hear us talk about playing the game and knowing the game and that really is a critique, say it’s BS in the end
Jeremie Greer 19:59
All right. I love it because like, I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to drop me off the one of my neighbor’s house. She used to take care of me for a couple hours a day while she was doing what she had to do, right, and my mom would pay her. I don’t think she had a childcare license. I don’t think that she like was registered with the state, it’s just my mom dropped me off a state where my mom paid her she came pick me up. So like that, but and it was me and a couple other kids. Like, yeah, like that’s, that’s work that these debts should be recognized. It should be compensated and not frowned upon to throw away because it is what molded me it is what molded the other kids in our community? Yeah.
Lauren Jacobs 20:43
Solana Rice 20:46
Yeah, we were we were talking earlier about the idea that also the, the fact that we are working and working constantly changes the way we show up; it changes the way we show up for family, it changes the way we show up in our communities. And, you know, Jeremie, and I think like it changes the way we show up politically as well, right? And what we think we deserve and don’t deserve as, as people. Are you seeing this idea of you got to work to, you got to work your fingers to the bone, and you might not get compensated for it, and you’ll probably need to do twice as much as anybody else. How do you see that impacting our political power? Just generally?
Lauren Jacobs 21:36
Yeah, I mean, I think in the context of, you know, I don’t want to sort of speak for all the other ethnic groups, I would say, like, when there’s a grind, I’m like, you have to work a constant sense of like, you had to work twice as hard or three times as hard to get to, you know, that’s sort of the old respectable the politics of it, but it is a sort of a indictment on say, things are not fair, they are never going to be fair. So you got to accept the terms as they are and figure out the best you can do with it. I think after two, three generations of living under them, and sort of there you are, right, there you are in the same place that your grandparents were, I think […] it can affect our sense of hope in the possibilities of transformation. I think that has real ramifications on on political power, right? It is the question about folks turning out to vote; it is the question about folks believing that, you know, that regular folks can do that job and succeed in it. Because again, it gets framed as like, that’s the, you know, we have the frame of like, that’s, you know, the game, you got to play the game, and everybody’s trying to do this. And there’s like a lack of hope of like, you can be, you know, a working class elected leader that’s going up and fighting on behalf of the community and real and integrity laden way. Like, that’s always gonna have suspicion. You know, I would imagine for families of immigrants, especially in undocumented immigrants, that there’s some similar cycle after a while, like, if you’re coming in, like, watching your parents work themselves to the bone for you to advance, and then, you know, there’s only so far and the door slams, again, it’s sort of generationally up to a point, like, there’s a sort of like the system, you know, the recognition system’s broke. And I think, I guess that’s where all of us come in, you know, the organizer types what is supposed to be our role in inspiring hope and trying to transform that picture?
Jeremie Greer 23:44
Yeah, and these things get built into systems. I wanna dig in because like, if you’re an immigrant your your status to stay in the country is tied to your work; if you’re receiving public benefits, your your ability to get those benefits is tied to some work that you’re doing — often awful, terrible, humiliating work sometimes. And then also, and but this history goes way back that like, you know, there isn’t a huge gulf between chattel slavery and compulsory work requirements for public benefits. So like, how do we break through these systems that have just for hundreds of years ingrained in, have reinforced the idea through not narrative or not like imagine things like real policy that says, you must work to have a roof over your head. Or you work or you die, like you work or you die like? How do we get past that?
Lauren Jacobs 24:54
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it is the question of the day. Um, you know, here’s one area that I, I do think that sort of the left and its relationship to left faith leaders, it becomes important. Not so much from the sort of, you know, monotheistic way of looking at things, but I think from the lens of speaking to values, and speaking to something that is about sort of, you know, that’s a little bit more heartspace. Because I think to get to that place of like, folks don’t have to work in order to be worthy of being cared for. Yeah, that’s a real values question. You can’t get there through a logical thing on like, you know, well, the economy works this way. Because it is so ingrained, and it’s ingrained across. I mean, I was gonna say, this is, you know, for poor white folks, this is ingrained in you know, this isn’t random, folks. It’s the way in which, you know. Going back to work when I was organizing with unions of this, you would say, people under horrible conditions, and there’s still a sense of like, well, you know, I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna go in here and kill myself to get this done. Or even the some of the things that I saw at times of watching workers as revenge, saying, you’re going to abuse me, I’m going to do it 10 times better. So that was a whole, a whole head trip on stuff. So I do think to unwind this is not necessarily like you can’t logically walk somebody back through this. This really speaks to something that they got to feel about the preciousness and dignity of life. But I’m like, what is the two of y’all thinking? I was like, Oh, they’re smart people.
Solana Rice 26:53
I’m really, I mean, I think that’s really fascinating to think about the work of our faith leaders, right, and calling for basically a moral revolution. Right. And it is a hard place to sit with the both and. I mean, I love I love. There are parts of Judaism, honestly, that I love, because it sits a lot in the both and. Like, yes, we are working day in and day out. And we shouldn’t necessarily have to, like we’re sitting with, yes, I take pride in my work. You know, I hear sometimes we’ll like people want jobs, because it’s what they, they, they want to feel like they’re contributing and like, yes. And they shouldn’t have to feel the economic coercion. At the same time, right, they should feel valued. So I like this idea of who are the who are the faith leaders? And are people still listening to faith leaders? I think they are. So like, walk us walk us through what we what we deserve. As workers and and not workers. It’s really fascinating thought, I don’t know, Jeremie.
Jeremie Greer 28:14
No, I think like, probably culturally, because I think that these values exist somewhere, right? They’re not we’re not gonna like invent them. Like, you know, I think about you know, kids, and I’m gonna date myself here, Lauren, so don’t you’re not on a limb by yourself. So like, what I was, you know what I was young, I watched it on Nick at Night. I’m not that, but like, I remember, Leave It to Beaver, you’d watch the Cleavers. And like, the mom would like, have these little quick, like little shots of dad to let them know, like, Hey, I’m working here, right. And there was this, like, recognition that that was work. And there was this recognition that she was she was a contributor. And it was and it was celebrated, in a way. And then the other show I watched was the Huxtables and the Cosby Show. And mom was working and I think back like any Black show, even if it was a Black middle class, the mother is working, like working for the man in some kind of way. And the idea of a Black person, not an employment of of the of the system just is out of touch with so so for me it’s like how do we culturally get to a place where we can understand the lives of the Black people are living in the same day that we can understand and accept the way that white folks are living their lives. Because the idea of being a stay at home mom is something that like you hear white families aspire to have all the time but like Black folks, we can’t do that like like you have to be up to be employed by the man and that’s there’s there’s a place in culture. So as always, I think that those values exist is just allowing all of us to to kind of embrace and embody those same set of values.
Lauren Jacobs 30:03
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think you’re gonna even look at the, you know, sort of one expression of feminism, sort of what’s typically called, like, you know, a second wave, right? So the, you know, sort of the embrace of like, feminist mystique, I mean, liberated from the home and from domestic work. Well, that’s made possible by the labor, you know, overwhelmingly Black women as domestic help, right? So, at that period in time, so, yes, all those things. I mean, Solana has said something about, like, work having. So I want to actually lift up and say, I do think, you know, if we could take this all apart and reconstruct it in a different way, this society, I do think people want to work. And I mean that in a different way: I don’t think it’s work for somebody else’s wealth or benefit or to poison the environment and the rivers and the seas right or to harm others. I think it’s that sense of I’m contributing something. And I think that’s also does, when you start to peel this back, you also start to travel. Again, going back to you know, I talked about all these the side jobs, but then those other things that we just because we don’t value them as a society as well we don’t name work. So folks go out and coach like little leagues or basketball basketball leagues, right. Like, we don’t name that work, but I was like it, it is work. But folks are thinking up, like, you know, what are we gonna do? What are the drills we’re gonna do? How am I gonna manage that these two kids are like, having beef with each other?
Jeremie Greer 31:46
My language I coach, I coach youth football on the side, and yes, yes, it is work. Amen, sister.
Lauren Jacobs 32:02
So, I mean, I think there’s all those and we think about about actually people to spend their day going around, and thinking about the ways in which people unpaid are contributing to the sense of community and the betterment of like either neighborhoods of the city or their town in these ways, and then thought about what’s compensated and what’s uncompensated? I mean, we would have a lesson I think that might be the way to think about well, what would work look like if you were able to get over to those types of activities versus sending Jeff Bezos space?
Jeremie Greer 32:41
I love that because it’s, it’s, it’s coming from a different slice that’s saying we’re going to assume that everybody’s working in some way toward the betterment and advancement of society. So then the question becomes how do we recognize and compensate that work is something that is a part of making our whole society better I love I love love that way. That’s a completely different way of thinking it then like are you know, our capitalist or racially, capital, capitalist, econ economic society tells us to think I love that.
Solana Rice 33:17
I’m curious, Lauren, I’m gonna shift gears just a little bit about like, are you seeing glimmers of hope of this myth around work as work sort of crumbling people starting to I mean, maybe it’s part of the great resignation, right wave that were like, Hey, we don’t have to put up with this. Um, where else are you seeing sort of the the curtain being pulled back and the The Wiz is behind it?
Lauren Jacobs 33:52
I think it’s certainly in the Great Resignation, like every sign that’s on a Wendy’s or what have you, like this place is shut down because, yeah. Yeah, this, you know, your little $12 an hour ain’t worth it. So is is this I think, actually the, you know, Striketober, Strikesgiving, Strikewinter, what is another expression? I mean, it’s, you know, I, there’s little clips from the Kellogg’s strike from the John Deere, where people were saying, like, they keep taking our stuff. I mean, I mean, there was this one woman and John Deere is like, they keep taking our stuff. I was like, that is it. That is the recognition of like, these tractors, this business, that’s us. You don’t have anything to sell if it’s not for us. And so you’re taking something from us versus please give. And so I do think that we’re in a moment. And the challenge, I think, to all of us that want a different world is perhaps like, how are we sort of making haste while the sun is still shining — that’s pulling out an old phrase. That’s like my grandmama’s. But it is sort of like we’re in a moment of a surge. And so what are we doing during the surge? I hate to be pessimistic and say, but there will be a fallow time again, right? So, you know, there’s a question about how much to advance how much do you build organization and structure now that can tackle all these issues? Right, in the long term?
Jeremie Greer 35:40
Well, Lauren, we want to give you a chance before you go, like tell us about the thing that you all are working on at PowerSwitch that is, you know, really giving you energy right now. Would just love for you to share that with our listeners, just like what is it that you’re working on PowerSwitch? What’s really big, giving you some, some energy today?
Lauren Jacobs 36:00
Yeah, there’s a lot going on at PowerSwitch. And, you know, and I say this humbly, because we you know, one of the things that’s great about it, now work is its local coalition. So when we talk about things, we’re excited about talking about things that we’re working on with other folks, including y’all. The work on Athena is, you know, we are excited about proud about proud about a moment where we’re actually tying racial justice to antimonopoly to a pro-worker agenda and sort of threading this in a very different way than I think movements have previously done, you know, in the past. I think, as well, a lot of great work that folks are doing around housing and both keeping people in their homes and starting to think a bit about how do we both have a conversation about decolonizing and land back, community control of land in places? And then and tying that to the questions around people’s right to be housed and remain in their homes.
Jeremie Greer 37:04
That’s all dope. Thanks for that. And if people want to get one to learn about that work, where do they go?
Lauren Jacobs 37:11
For now, well we were formerly called the Partnership for Working Families. PowerSwitch Action’s our new our new name. You could still find us at forworkingfamilies.org. But stay tuned, ’cause we’ll have a new website up fairly soon.
Solana Rice 37:27
Fantastic. I’m actually going to pull Kendra in just to see, did we do all the things that you had imagined we would do, Kendra?
Kendra Bozarth 37:35
You did all the things. That was great. Yay.
Lauren Jacobs 37:39
Yay. Thanks y’all for inviting me on. This is exciting.
Solana Rice 37:46
That was amazing, as usual, with Lauren Jacobs. Love her. Just truth all the time, all the time. We’ve got to do that. Again. What I really appreciated about one of the things that she said and you lifted up was this idea of like, what if we reverse engineer this economy? What if we just said like, everybody’s doing work? Let’s actually base our economic projections and all these things around how much is this gonna cost? How much is that going to cost? Based on like, what people are actually contributing to the economy? And what if we just said, like, everybody’s contributing something, let’s figure out how to value it? Like, I just thought that was a really, I don’t know, kind of revolutionary way to think about our economy.
Jeremie Greer 38:39
Yeah, totally revolutionary. You know, what I kept thinking about as we were talking was, you know, Joe Biden always tells us like folksy story about his dad, and he was like, you know, “Joe, the job’s not about the money; it’s about dignity and respect.” And that and I just remember hearing Joe say that feeling like Man, if that’s some white people bullshit, like I like, because that’s not how my dad explained work to me. He was like, You got to work, because you got to survive. If you don’t work, you’re gonna be on the street, you will be poor, you’re going to be this and that. But what if it wasn’t like that? What if, like, you hear that and you’re like yeah, that’s what work’s about. And that is what we want work [to be]. And that’s something that like Black folks, people of color can aspire, aspire to have like a job that brings that kind of dignity and like I’m contributing to life and society in a way that I feel good about.
Solana Rice 39:36
I think “yes, and.” Like imagine if we didn’t have to only find dignity in our work. Like what if we could find dignity outside of work and we also feel appreciated. Everybody’s not going to love their their job necessarily, but everybody should be feeling like they belong and have a place and are contributing every day, right. Like that’s, that’s the dual. I really appreciated Lauren like sitting with both the “both and” like working in the structures and knowing that it could be so much better and more.
Jeremie Greer 40:16
And what that means, which we didn’t talk about is, we got to get rid of these politicians that are reinforcing this stuff. Right, in both parties, righ? You have Republicans, you know, Newt Gingrich in this crowd, bringing in work requirements into public services and public benefits. You got people like Joe Manchin trying to tie that to benefits that currently do not require those type of work requirements, like the child tax credit or other things. And we need to get these people out of the way. Because that is really, they’re the ones that are holding us back. And again, it’s not just the Republicans, like, you know, Tom Cotton, and you know, Mike McCarthy all they’re like, kind of like Kevin McCarthy, sorry, I got there’s too many McCarthy’s. But they’re all who stand away. And there’s the Joe Manchins and the folks on the Democratic side. And what we need to do is like get these folks out of the way, because in order to get to that vision that Lauren was talking about, it’s a political fight. Like, yes, it’s a cultural fight, but it’s also a political fight, so that our members of Congress are not reinforcing these things.
Solana Rice 41:25
And it’s also a conversation within our own communities about what we’re holding these folks accountable towards. But what we are also holding ourselves accountable for. I’ve been in many a conversation with other Black people about like, well, you know, those people were there they know, you know, they not working and they, you know, they’re not putting in. And that may be true, and we still should not be making these work requirements a way of the law. That’s just, it’s not necessary. At all.
Jeremie Greer 42:03
Yeah. Yeah. When you look at the experience of one of our good friends who we hope to have on the podcast down the road, Michael Tubbs, and his experience doing universal basic income in Stockton, a lot of the critique around giving people cash directly for nothing at all. No, no work, you’re getting cash, because we know you’re struggling. And we know that, that the government could support you. A lot of the critique was coming from folks in the Black community. And and it was a lot of that, like, you know, uplift-suasion that, you know, that Professor Kennedy talks about around like Black folks looking down on other Black folks and saying, like, well, those people shouldn’t get that support. And really all that we’re doing is he talks about what we’re doing that is uplifting, and reinforcing white supremacy, and the people that are benefiting from that white supremacy are the wealthy individuals and the people that are driving things in our economy, and is what’s holding us back from moving towards that liberation economy that we talked about it at LibGen, where we’re building an economy where people are guaranteed to a set of economic rights and things like having an income having a job having health care, having housing, and that that is something that the government must provide for.
Solana Rice 43:22
And really, we’re talking about our collective well being. When we say government, you know, some people are like, I don’t want to be dependent on the government. I don’t want to be dependent on the state. But it is the way, it hasn’t been necessarily, but it is the way we take care of one another collectively as a nation. And it is, it isn’t the democracy that we’re aiming for right now. Right. But it could be right. And I think I think one of the things that I’m asking myself, and I hope, I think, listeners, whether we’re activists, whether we’re community members, whether we’re policymakers, I think we have to really ask ourselves, are we more than our paid work, like day in and day out? Like where do we find our self worth outside of work? And really, what is my expectation from my paid work? You know, Lauren works with folks that are unionizing all the time. How can we ask for more and demand more as producers, but as more than just producers? Right? And I also think we must ask one another, and those that are in power, how are we supporting and acknowledging each other’s many contributions to our collective well being? That notion that everybody is contributing to our collective well being. Let’s figure out how to compensate and and value that. And I think that’s everything — from like when we go to the restaurant and we’re like interacting with the folks at McDonald’s, or whether we’re, you know, in a hotel room and the hotel service folks are coming through, like whatever it is; that we’re asking these questions of like, how do we see each other’s work? Our volunteer work and our carework, all the work, all the ways that we contribute. And how are we acknowledging that and valuing it in an everyday way?
Jeremie Greer 45:22
Well I think that’s a great way to leave everybody. So, thanks for listening to this podcast, Racism Is Profitable. We look forward to hearing you next time. Peace y’all.
Kendra Bozarth 45:35
Thanks for listening. For more information, check out our list of episode resources and visit us at liberationinagenerationaction.org. Shout out to our producer, Jacob Bronstein; audio editor, Nino Fernandez; communications director, me, Kendra Bozarth; the design team at TrimTab; and the whole squad at LibGen Action. Like what you heard? Help us make some noise by telling two friends about the Racism Is Profitable podcast. Until next time, y’all. Peace!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai