Ethereal perceptions and attitudes about what life and people should be like, fueled by portrayals in entertainment and the media, are causing us to not see things as they really are and to devalue the vast majority of Americans. Somehow, the top one percent, those earning $400,000 per year or more, became what the average American is supposed be like and if you don’t live up to this unrealistic ideal you are somehow lazy or dumb and definitely undeserving of a comfortable life.
Back in 1980 the term “Yuppie” was coined to refer to Young Urban Professionals, usually upwardly mobile, socially liberal and fiscally conservative meaning they can do whatever they want and everyone else is on their own. They look down on manual labor. Somehow those without college educations and who work with their hands or have to work while standing became unworthy of a livable wage and basic benefits. This was a change in perception that changed the way the working class was viewed and treated. Workers are still needed, but became devalued by just a perception.
Currently, the most needed positions in America that go unfilled in the job market are home healthcare aides, retail, restaurant and hotel workers. There are more jobs than workers looking. During this COVID -19 pandemic we have also found that service workers have now become essential workers. According to Representative Joe Kennedy III (D Mass), “Our futures are linked… (service workers and everyone else),” service workers are “…the people who enable the rest of us to function.” And 40% of hardworking Americans cannot handle a $400 emergency. This is real America.
Essential workers are essential and the top 1% cannot function without us. Essential workers need to be valued and paid a living wage with benefits and support including healthcare, childcare, safe and affordable public transportation, affordable housing, hazard pay, sick days and paid family leave (Rev. William J. Barber II). We should not let false perceptions justify the exploitation of essential workers. We all share a common humanity and our health is inextricably linked.
Greedy takers who think they are better and more deserving than everyone else need to use their blessings to bless others. And right now, “…too many people in power… are comfortable with other people’s deaths…” (Barber). We are all valuable, essential and deserve protection from exploitation and being forced to risk dying or being unemployed!