We are mourning and facing anxiety about the many forms of murder and violence we see over and over in our communities. Jobs With Justice does not support violence in any form.
We are grieving with the families of the men and women murdered this month. The killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, broadcast on an international stage, and in front of children, have been horrendous reminders of the fear and insecurity Black individuals live with on a daily basis. And yet, these events are simply the most recent, visible examples of the violent, vigilante assault Black communities face.
Black lives matter without disclaimer or apology. It is all of our responsibility to build a society where Black youth do not fear violence on their way to school or at the recreation center, and where fearing death is not an acceptable part of life for Black adults.
At Jobs With Justice, we envision a world where every working person can earn a good living and have a good quality of life. This world is possible when people join together to negotiate a fair return on our work. Jobs With Justice is committed to fighting racism and white supremacy not simply because it is the right thing to do but also because dismantling the violent and exclusionary systems of white supremacy is fundamental to working people uniting to create better workplaces and a more inclusive economy for generations to come.
We cannot achieve true equality in our workplaces, or our schools, and our democracy without confronting racism in all the ways white supremacy shows up in our country’s systems. We must protest the unjustified and disproportionate policing, criminalizing and assaulting of Black community members by law enforcement. We must challenge individuals who blame immigrants for “stealing our jobs” instead of recognizing that corporations exploit immigrants to undercut job standards. We must stand united in calling out the myriad forms of bias against Black and Brown individuals.
Police officers shot Alton Sterling when he was selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge. His life was emblematic of so many Black and Latino men pushed into the informal economy to try to make a living. Millions of people who want to work are currently unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work altogether. Even as unemployment rates have dropped since the recession, the rate for African-American and Latinos living in metropolitan areas was 11.3 and 7.4 percent, as of 2014. These racial disparities persist in good times and bad; over the past 50 years for example, the Black unemployment rate has always been at least double that of whites.
Philando Castile, a 14-year member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Minnesota Local 320, built community through his work. Co-workers, parents, and children who knew Philandro from his work managing a school cafeteria recall a loving role model who knew hundreds of kids by name and took care of their dietary needs. Even before Philando’s murder, this beloved man was pulled over 49 times in 13 years for driving while Black.
The Movement for Black Lives is leading the way in exposing the harms inflicted by law enforcement against Black America and catalyzing powerful non-violent direct action across the country in response. We applaud the movement for using social media to amplify outrage over the systemic violence and racism Black men and women experience in the 21st century, reminding us of the painful, traumatic history of lynching and slavery that many in our country would like us to forget.
Even if the undeniable evidence of violence against Black Americans was not before us, we cannot go about our daily lives while Black folks going about their daily lives are harassed on a routine basis in their car and their neighborhoods, or are otherwise discriminated against while trying to sustain their families. We all must play a role in combating white supremacy and its impacts on our jobs, our communities and our ability to live freely in a peaceful society.