by Alex Gallo-Brown
Last week, votes from the largest union election in recent American history — both in terms of the number of eligible workers and the media hype surrounding the campaign — were counted, and the results weren’t pretty if you’re a fan of workplace democracy, economic justice, or collective action. Only about 55% of the 5,800 eligible workers at the Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, cast votes in an election that dragged on over the course of seven weeks. Of the 3,215 workers who did vote, only 738 chose to certify the union; 1,798 elected not to. Hundreds of additional ballots weren’t even counted, since they belonged to workers whose eligibility was contested and whose votes would not have changed the outcome, anyway.
It was a devastating outcome for organized labor, according to the national press, after weeks and months of optimism that the pro-union workers might succeed. For many who were on the outside, stories of insufficient bathroom breaks, erratic scheduling, low wages (relative to other warehouses in the area), and general job insecurity made the case for the union a slam dunk. That about 85% of the workers at Bessemer are Black and a majority women in an area of the country with a long history of civil rights struggle only added to the excitement. The workers would win in Bessemer and create a spark throughout the country, galvanizing low-wage workers everywhere to rise up and demand liberation from the conditions that have oppressed them. After decades of decline, labor unions in the U.S. would finally be reborn.
Continue reading OPINION: Loss in Bessemer Was the Beginning, Not the End, of Organizing Inside Amazon
by M. Anthony Davis
Yesterday morning, as I reluctantly tuned in to the Derek Chauvin trial, which absurdly feels like the George Floyd trial, my Twitter timeline was ambushed with #DaunteWright. As Chauvin was on trial in Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd, another Black man, Daunte Wright, was murdered by a police officer a few miles away in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Daunte Wright was 20 years old. One year removed from being a teenager. On Sunday, he was pulled over for driving a car with expired registration and breaking a Minnesota law that prohibits motorists from hanging items like air fresheners from their rearview mirrors. That traffic violation ultimately cost him his life.
I tried not to watch the video. I didn’t need to see it. I heard how it started and I had heard how it ended. Why put myself through the trauma? I shouldn’t have. But I did. And now, like so many of you, like the family and infant child that Wright has left behind, I am left sharing the communal trauma yet again.
Continue reading Daunte Wright and Another Seattle Shooting — the Cycle of Trauma Continues
by Luna Reyna
One-quarter of the entire 2020 Seattle city budget was allocated to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). While last summer’s protests over anti-Black police violence and calls to defund the police resulted in an 18% decrease in the 2021 SPD budget, $364 million was still allocated to SPD. This is an affront to community-led organizations like King County Equity Now (KCEN) and so many others who have been providing much-needed community support and succeeding in creating real public safety.
KCEN, which started as an informal coalition of over 60 Black-led community organizations like Africatown Community Landtrust, Community Passageways, and Blaq Elephant Party, is now a formal, pro-Black 501(c)(4) dedicated to achieving equity for all Black peoples across all measurable metrics, including, wealth, health, land ownership, safety, college matriculation rates, organizational control, and more.
In the ’70s, the Central District’s population was 75% Black, but as a result of Seattle’s tech boom and resulting gentrification, the CD is now only 15% Black.
“My family was gentrified from the Central District in 2003,” said TraeAnna Holiday, an organizer with KCEN. “I remember wondering why my family couldn’t stay in our neighborhood. This was our neighborhood; I knew it in and out.”
Continue reading OPINION: Seattle Activists’ Continued Fight for Mutual Aid, True Equity, and Defunding SPD
by Susan Davis
For more than a century, philosopher George Santayana’s warning has been often repeated: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day when we stop to remember the Holocaust, in which as many as 17.5 million people were systematically tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime between 1939–1945 throughout Europe. The largest groups that Hitler targeted were Jews, Slavs, and Romani people. LGBTQIA+ people, the mentally or physically disabled, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, People of Color, leftists, and dissidents made up the majority of the non-Jews who were also murdered. There were others, such as trade unionists, members of the Baha’i Faith, Catholics, Protestants, Socialists and others whom Hitler considered “unpure.”
What does “unpure” mean? It was the main driver of Aryan race propaganda, which is a legacy of American slave-owning racist ideology. Hitler harnessed the concept and convinced ethnic Germans that they were the superior race. The sophisticated propaganda campaign had a profound effect on the German people and proved to be the gateway to the horrific genocide of historic proportions that occurred during World War II.
Continue reading Honoring Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day
by Tammy Morales
When it comes to addressing gun violence in our community, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is. Organizations like Safe Passage, Boys & Girls Club’s SE Network, Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC), and Urban Family invest time in our communities, support our young people, and build community. They have been doing essential work long before Omari Wallace was shot and killed on March 18. In fact, we were supposed to be having a Zoom meeting about the increase of South Seattle shootings when we learned that a young man walked into the Emerald City Bible Fellowship and shot 19-year-old Wallace who was there attending a meeting.
Continue reading OPINION: Gun Violence Is a Symptom of Poverty
by Jasmine M. Pulido
There’s the phrase, “Together we can move mountains.” But in Filipino/a/x culture we start even smaller. There is a word for the long-held custom in which a village comes together to literally carry on their backs the home of a neighbor, to move it from where it was to where it needs to be. When I told my Filipino father-in-law what I was looking for in Seattle over dinner one day, he responded, “Ah, yes. Bayanihan.”
Bayanihan. It’s when you inherently trust a village with your sense of belonging. Your home.
Continue reading Yours in Community: A Year of Writing for the Emerald
by Datyous Mahmoudian
As someone who has experienced incarceration, I see voting rights restoration as a mark of good government. It sent me the message that “I matter” instead of reinforcing the stigma and second-class citizenship that are often experienced when people like me reenter our communities.
The recent passage of House Bill 1078 by our state legislature has cultivated a strong wave of hope and optimism from current and formerly incarcerated communities and their allies in Washington State. This new law will give new opportunity to thousands of politically disenfranchised people who want to make their voices heard by casting a vote for those who create the laws that govern our lives.
Continue reading OPINION: Voting Rights Restoration Bill’s Passage Brings Hope to Our Formerly Incarcerated Communities
by Marcus Harrison Green
(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)
Listening to Lynda Wolff, I want to roar at the world to remember her murdered son’s life. Four years ago, Latrel Williams was shot multiple times while returning to his Lakeridge home.
In the aftermath of his death, I spotted no signs at marches acknowledging his life, no public speeches given in his honor, and no politicians furiously spouting his name to earn social justice merits.
But Lynda still lost a son. Latrel Jr. (LJ) lost a father. And I lost a friend.
Continue reading OPINION: When Black Men Are Killed in Seattle’s South End, Why Does Society Shrug?