We live in a moment in America where our politics is increasingly defined by race and ideas about race relations. However, what is race? What is ethnicity? How do social constructs reflect biological differences, and to what extent can any race actually be identified as a stable classification? These are issue we hope to explore, while opening the discussion to a wider and wider audience. Join us in this national conversation.
We are building a community, a discussion space, and a set of ideas that we hope can forward the discussion of race in America in a respectful, productive and enlightening manner. Stay tuned as we continue to add not only to this site, but to the conversation.
Labor Day weekend in the United States is a time of recognition and appreciation that crosses all social lines in the working population. It’s a holiday for people to value each other and all the work we do, both paid and/or unpaid work, whether we work for employers, by ourselves, and/or for our families and each other. It’s also a time for U.S. workers to appreciate workers elsewhere in the world, because all of our destinies are interconnected.
But do you see all these things happening when we celebrate Labor Day?
Labor Day is a day for beginning anew. Students go back to school in K-12 schools and at colleges and universities. When workers gather together again, after enjoying their summer vacations, they take on tough challenges and focus on new projects. Because this is a presidential election year, candidates and their advocates rush to make their cases and voters make decisions. Members of movements assess where they have been and where they plan to go. Family members set new priorities and figure out new ways to work and learn together. All of these groups of workers, and many more, make up the large population of working people who hold the power to decide where things will go.
As these groups prepare for a new year of work, they address this question, even if it’s not spoken aloud: how are we going to address racism and related class and gender separations that, for centuries, have been long-standing divisions in the United States?
Are these working groups going to assume that unequal structures are permanent and almost universal? Will some go forward without trying to end racism and its violence?
Will the structurally advantaged in workplaces see that racism and inequality undermines their capabilities? And will the structurally advantaged recognize that they are dehumanizing themselves by expropriating what belongs to others?
Will the structurally advantaged and also the structurally disadvantaged see that another day of injustice could mean another year of racial violence?
Will all working people in schools, businesses, and families, and especially the one-tenth of one percent, figure out how to break apart structures of racism and other inequalities as an integral part of the daily work they do?
Addressing racism on a daily basis, as part of all the paid and unpaid work we do, could help create a society where we take care of every one of us, in the United States and around the world.
This is a historical turning point when a national conversation on race, carried out in all the settings in which we work and as part of all we do, can give Labor Day the meaning that it deserves to have.