Monday, November 9, 2015

Melissa Harris-Perry and the term "Hard Worker"

In a discussion with former Bush-Administration appointee, Alfonso Aguilar, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry took umbrage to his calling Paul Ryan a hard worker by saying:
"I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like."
 I am not going to say that slaves picking cotton was not hard work. But, it was only very hard work for 1 to 2 months out of the year during the harvesting of a cotton crop that took 200 days to develop. Also, slaves did not have exclusivity to hard work.  Thousands of children worked up to 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, for as little as a dollar a day, before child labor laws banned the practice in the early 20th century.

Before mechanization,  coal miners worked long hours, 6-days a week, with pick and shovel in wet and damp conditions inhaling soot that would eventually kill them with "black lung" disease just so Americans could heat their homes and locomotives could move products across the country.  They weren't slaves.  They worked very hard to house, clothe, and feed their families.  For them, it was survival.  Slaves, on the other hand, were provided with food and shelter by their owners.

Following the abolition of slavery, black sharecroppers, for the most part, single-highhandedly worked segments of those same fields that were once "picked" by slaves.  They did so on their own because they could not afford to pay anyone else to help them. That was hard work done in order to survive.

These are just examples of how Americans worked hard to build the country without slavery.  Whether it's working steel mills and lumber yards or keeping the general store open 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, slaves did not have a lock on hard work.  It is terrible that slavery tarnished this country's past, but it doesn't exist any more and Melissa Perry should move on and look at the positive side of what has happened since then.

Even as a kid growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, I have witnessed tremendous changes taking place in race relations.  But, Melissa Harris Perry, who was born in 1972, has no recollection of that.  She chooses to hold on to the hostility and bitterness of those unable or unwilling to move forward.


MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry redefines ‘hard worker’:

A History of Child Labor:

Typical Planting & Harvesting of Crops:


History of coal miners:


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