OhMySweetMercifulCrap, you’ve GOT to watch this video! PLEASE watch this video. Are you feeling hopeless? Watch this video. Are you feeling powerless? Watch this video. Are you wanting to be inspired? WATCH THIS FREAKING VIDEO! A real quick set up first… This past week in Indiana, a few Latino workers building a UPS hub were unjustly sent home by a racist foreman… Causing the rest of the Latino workers to walk out in solidarity. The brave moment was captured on video in all its giddy, expletive-laden glory by a black man named Antoine Dangerfield. Here it is…
If you are reading this sentence and you haven’t watched the video, seriously stop what you’re doing and watch the video. Even if you’ve seen the video before, watch it again. I have watched it about 10 times now, and I can’t get enough. Here is what happened:
There was a safety foreman who was well known for being racist and discriminatory toward the Latino skilled laborers working on the job site (welders and conveyor installers and millwrights), and he was repeatedly harassing them and doing things to try to get them fired. The workers did not like this man at all. During a safety meeting, he asked one of the workers to translate for him (there were MANY Spanish-speaking people working there), and when the worker refused, the safety foreman got very angry and sent five or six workers home. After this happened, the other Latino workers (in Dangerfield’s words), “got together and were like, ‘Nah. We got families and kids. We’re not about to let these dudes just do whatever.’ So they took a stand.” And they walked out. They weren’t part of any union… They just said, “Nope. Not today.”
And Antoine Dangerfield captured it on video. The excitement in Antoine Dangerfield’s voice is palpable. And contagious. And beautiful. It is the sound of a man discovering that when he stands together with friends, TOGETHER they are powerful. It is the sound of hope and humor and dignity and justice. “This is what I’m TALKIN’ ’bout, baby. I swear to God… They got me geeked UP!”
And within a few days, millions and MILLIONS of people have watched the video on Youtube and Facebook and Twitter. And for posting the video, Antoine Dangerfield got fired. The company offered him $250 to take the video down. He refused, and they fired him (a GoFundMe has been set up to help him and his son). In an interview with Jacobin Magazine, here is what he said about losing his job:
“It was life-changing to me to see that happen. Because it was like, dang, they really came together. And that’s why I’m not mad about the video, about getting fired. Because it’s five million people who saw that. And it might change their view on things. Empowering people. So me losing a job is nothing compared to the big picture. If we can get it in our heads that we are the people, and if we make our numbers count, we can change anything.”
The workers were not part of a union. It was just an act of solidarity. And I know that when there are instances of corruption in unions, the people who own the television stations MAKE SURE we all hear about it, so a lot of people right now have a messed up, negative view of unions, but hear me when I say this: IF WE ARE EVER TO STAND A CHANCE OF NARROWING THE INCOME GAP, REBUILDING THE MIDDLE CLASS, AND FIGHTING THE KLEPTOCRACY, IT IS GOING TO INVOLVE UNIONS. And that means people have to vote for folks who are pro-union. An imbalance of wealth is an imbalance of power… And when the wealth and power are consolidated in the hands of a few, corruption and injustice thrives. This is something the framers of the Constitution knew, and this is why they gave us the power that is the right to VOTE.
Many states have passed legislation to discourage and in some cases criminalize unionization. These actions work in tandem with efforts to disenfranchise people of color, and make the voting process as difficult as possible. It’s what was behind the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It’s what is behind gerrymandering. It’s what is behind permanently taking the right to vote away from people who have paid their debt to society after committing a felony (disproportionately affecting the poor and People Of Color). And here’s why: Because people in positions of power do NOT want us realizing we have the power to change things. They want us feeling isolated. They want us feeling discouraged. They want us feeling hopeless. They want us focusing on the president’s unending flow of awfulness and immorality, instead of focusing on coming together with other workers to DEMAND our right to fair wages and human dignity. They want white folks blaming brown people for our shitty jobs and our economic immobility and the fact that we can’t afford to take vacations.
The people in power (almost exclusively white men) are not interested in educating our children… They are interested in creating good little workers who raise their hands to speak, walk in straight lines, and don’t cause “trouble.” They aren’t interested in us having educations that are paid for by the community… They are interested in us getting out of college tens of thousands of dollars in debt, so that we are forced to work for them. They aren’t interested in us having universal healthcare where everyone is covered… They are interested in funneling workers into certain types of jobs if they want coverage, while the poor among us lose our houses or rely on GoFundMe for our healthcare when we get sick. They aren’t interested in combating systemic racism… They are interested in fanning the flames of racism and bigotry and xenophobia, because if we’re all blaming the people who don’t look like us, we won’t notice that TOGETHER WE ARE IMMENSELY POWERFUL.
The struggle has never been about black and white. The struggle has always been between the rich and the poor… The haves and the have nots… The workers and the ones signing their checks and then laying them off so the owners can make more money by opening a factory in Indonesia, paying those people slave wages, and then using their extra money to get people elected who lower their business taxes while people talk about “America First.”
I understand that I am powerless. But WE are NOT powerless. WE can change the world. UNITED WE STAND; DIVIDED WE BEG! One last thing… Watch this video. Even if you’ve watched it before. We should be watching it at least once a month. It is made of hope and goodness and life…
Alright! I’ve got a new Patron tonight. His name is Fernando. I can’t convey how amazing it is that there are people out there who care enough about this blog to give a few bucks a month to help support me and my family. It is just beautiful. Thank you so much, Fernando. It YOU would like to be awesome like Fernando, you to can BECOME A PATRON. Or, if you’d like to leave a one time tip on PayPal, you can do that RIGHT HERE. Otherwise, just follow me on Twitter and on Facebook, or share this post with the people in your lives. “This is what I’m TALKIN’ ’bout, baby. I swear to God… They got me geeked UP!”