WHAT IS THE VALUE OF LABOR...
Dor + Tay
As of last week, GFJ no longer posts internships or apprenticeships that do not pay an hourly rate of minimum wage or better. The question that has been living underneath that decision, and is now coming closer to the forefront, is: What is the value of labor?
For years, we occupied a neutral position on this subject. For example, we believe that money is not the only thing of value, so doesn't it go against our own values to exclude other potential benefits or alternative types of compensation?
Here's the thing about a neutral position: for White folks like us, neutrality is a privilege. Neutrality means you have not only the choice between two sides, but the choice not to have to choose. Remaining comfortable* in a position of neutrality underlines our ability to avoid the lived reality of Black and Indigenous and other people of color.
*Comfort is a relative term here, because within a certain standard of comfort, we can experience Resmaa Menakem's concept of dirty pain, and we can be missing out on a great deal of fulfillment and joy that comes from meaningful connections with people who do not look like us.
Neutrality allows us to remain insulated from questions that many working and unemployed people have no choice but to face: How can I survive in a society where my labor isn't valued at a livable rate?
I think the word 'insulation' is particularly relevant to race because as White people, we have the unique ability to be insulated from our own Whiteness. This insulation extends outwards, even as we feel empowered or entitled to invade the privacy of others: asking recently married couples (often at their own wedding) when they'll have children, asking people of color where they are from because of how they look, asking young mothers when they're going to have another (second, third, fourth) child, asking a person of color if they are the first person in their family to graduate college, the list goes on.
In choosing to draw a line based on the value of labor, what we are really doing is getting closer to - or less insulated from - our values as people and as business owners.
Some additional questions have come up for us in this process, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on any or all:
If you feel your own livelihood is dependent on free labor, is your business sustainable?
If you plan to continue posting your unpaid internship or apprenticeship on other platforms, how do you intend to address equity in regard to the race of your applicants?
What are the risks associated with choosing not to post unpaid positions, and what are the risks associated with investing more money in your labor force?
Where does GFJ go from here? We'll be sharing more in the coming weeks and months in regard to increasing minimum wages, something that many states in the U.S. are already at work on.
We'll also be looking at how we, as a society, value the labor of individuals based on an existing or pre-determined skill set, rather than potential for growth.
And finally, we'll be facing another big question: are Americorps positions, which are not technically internships, and pay a nominal stipend of $1,800 for 12 months of service, a Good Food Job? If you or someone you know has been an Americorps service member, we would love to hear from you.
In food, justice, and food justice,
resources on anti-racism, environmentalism and food culture AKA stuff we're reading / listening to / watching / noticing / thinking about / captivated by this Tuesday . . .
Even if you weren't a teenager in the 90's, as we were, this performance by Alanis Morissette will both take you back and anchor you to the present, work-from-home situation.
Gina Danza @wildginaa gives us three key steps to Crediting Black Creatives.
I'd love to live in a world where we didn't need reminders to take our shoes off and put our bare feet on the ground, but until then, Shalom & Polepole has our soles in mind.
Do you love to ask questions? Here's a short film for you by the Social Justice Leadership Academy teens of Kite's Nest, a center for liberatory education in Hudson, New York.
Ahsante the Artist reminds us that speaking up for racial justice is not the same as speaking on behalf of marginalized people, but staying engaged on the regular will help you feel more comfortable with the difference.
“The perception of plant-based eating as a white-only conceit isn’t accurate, but for some, it feels very real.” - Maya Mastersson of Black Roux Collective, interviewed by Stone Pier Press.
got a tidbit? drop it here for us and we'll share it in next week's newsletter.