Labor Day is a federal public holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer. It also represents the beginning of a new school year.
Workers are the backbone of society. Just imagine how things would progress if there was no one to do the basic work required to maintain us. In a capitalistic society, it is absolutely mandatory that those who are born in the working class obtain employment. It is an interesting fact of life that a job is part of a person’s basic identity, and is intimately connected with a person’s self-esteem.
The problem in the United States is that unemployment is, and continues to be, a problem in the African American community as well as in other sectors. According to various reports, the unemployment rate for African Americans is consistently higher than that for other Americans. This is just another area of inequality that African Americans have to face, and it comes with deleterious consequences.
If you have no job, you may be subjected to poor housing, healthcare and other unfavorable situations. Unfortunately, in this economy, the unemployed are not necessarily provided with sympathy. Sometimes, even other African Americans will look upon the unemployed with disdain, usually shouting at them to “Get a job!” This is true even though jobs may be scarce, especially in certain employment sectors.
Admittedly, the unemployment rate among African Americans could be somewhat fixed if certain things are done.
For example, the STEM fields, i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, are begging for recruits. If more Blacks would apply themselves to studies in this arena, some of the unemployment cases could be abated. Unfortunately, many young Blacks eschew these fields due to an interest in pursuing careers in the music field or in sports. Historically, these arenas have shown great financial returns, which is why a disproportionate number of young Blacks seek to make inroads in these areas.
Another challenge is that many Blacks focus on low wage jobs due to a lack of education. This, too, can be remedied if more attention were given to higher education. This does not necessarily mean that one has to accrue huge student loan debt in order to attend college; it could mean that vocational education is given greater attention wherein one becomes a skilled laborer. Training and academic preparation have been shown to reap dividends when it comes to being able to make a decent living.
With this said, the country would come to a standstill if employed persons decided to eschew labor intensive pursuits. True, in a society such as ours, a certain number of unemployed persons is necessary in order to maintain an intimidating edge by using a perceived threat of unemployment. This is one reason why full employment will never be a serious goal in a capitalist society. But it is also true that a truly humane and just society should ensure that everyone who wants to work should be able to work!
With the wealth demonstrated by the corporate elite, there is enough work to go around, but greed keeps unemployment high. Moreover, no one who does manage to obtain full time employment should have to live in abject poverty!
In other words, resisting a call for a minimum wage increase to at least $15 dollars an hour is criminal. It shows a complete disdain for the value of honest labor. As we celebrate this Labor Day holiday, think on this: if we truly strive to honor the contributions of all workers, we should encourage that they be paid adequately. A Luta Continua!