- Created on 08 November 2013
Photo: Kathleen Miles
Surrounded by about 100 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter circling above, more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they sat in the street protesting what they called the retailer's "poverty wages."
Organizers said it was the largest single act of civil disobedience in Walmart's 50-year history. The 54 arrestees, with about 500 protesting Walmart workers, clergy and supporters, demonstrated outside LA's Chinatown Walmart. Those who refused police orders to clear the street after their permit expired were arrested without incident. Those who fail to post $5,000 bail would be jailed overnight, Detective Gus Villanueva, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, told The Huffington Post.
Their primary demand to Walmart: pay every full-time worker at least $25,000 a year.
One of the protesting Walmart workers, Anthony Goytia, a 31-year-old father of two, said he believes he will make about $12,000 this year. It's a daily struggle, he said, "to make sure my family doesn't go hungry."
"The power went out at my house yesterday because I couldn't afford the bill," Goytia told HuffPost. "I had to run around and get two payday loans to pay for my rent from the first" of the month. "Yesterday we went to a food bank."
To make ends meet, Goytia said he sometimes participates in clinical trials and sells his blood plasma. He has been asking his managers for full-time employment for a year and a half. Instead, he said, they hire temporary workers, who can be fired at any time.
Goytia was one of several dozen Walmart workers in Southern California who went on strike Wednesday and Thursday, calling for an end to low wages, unpredictable part-time hours and retaliation for speaking out. They were joined by other employees on their days off and dozens more who rode buses from Northern California.
The strike, protest and arrests are the latest in a series of worker actions across the country coordinated by OUR Walmart, an advocacy organization with ties to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The strike and protest in Los Angeles this week are the first in what organizers said would be a series of protests leading into the holiday shopping season.
The protesters said Walmart can afford to pay every worker at least $25,000 a year -- pointing to Walmart's $17 billion profit from the latest year and the founding Walton family's fortune, which equals the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of American families.
Walmart CEO Bill Simon disclosed in a presentation recently that 475,000 Walmart workers are paid more than $25,000 a year. That leaves 525,000 to 825,000 Walmart workers earning less than $25,000. House Democrats seeking to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour have criticized Walmart for its low wages.
Walmart invited HuffPost to speak to a couple associates working in the Chinatown store during the protest Thursday. In the presence of a consultant working for Walmart, two employees -- Do Nguyen, 29, and Aldo Hernandez, 55 -- said that they are treated well at Walmart. Nguyen, who has worked for Walmart for almost a year, said that asking for a minimum of $25,000 is "a national issue, not a Walmart issue."
Hernandez, who has worked for Walmart for almost five years, said he gets good health benefits through Walmart and doesn't struggle to support himself and his son. Both Nguyen and Hernandez declined to say how much they make.
Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for Walmart, said that the company has hundreds of thousands of associates who earn $25,000 or more and that others have the opportunity to do so.
"There are unparalleled opportunities at Walmart," Lundberg said. "We're going to be promoting 160,000 associates this year. That's larger than the total workforce of most companies out there."
"Folks can come in as entry level or whatever level they're at and can work up as far as they're willing to go," Lundberg said. "That's one of the things we're proudest of."
After working full time at Walmart in Paramount, Calif., for 10 years, Martha Sellers, 55, makes $25,400 a year. In the last few years, she said, her managers have been cutting her weekly hours, sometimes to as few as 12 hours a week.
With that income, she said, she has to pay her rent in pieces. "If I pay all my rent at one time, then I have $12 to live on and put gas in my car until I get paid again," Sellers, who attended Thursday's protest, said.
"I have a very nice neighbor who lends me money. But then the next month, I'm short again," Sellers said. "I never get caught up."
LA's Chinatown Walmart, about one-fifth the size of the company's regular stores, opened in September despite thousands of Angelenos protesting it during the summer. It is the retailer's first store in central LA.
In October 2012, for the first time in Walmart's history, some workers went on a one-day strike, even though Walmart jobs have never been protected by a labor union. More than 70 LA Walmart workers from nine stores walked off the job, followed by over 80 Walmart workers walking off the job in a dozen other U.S. cities.
Last year, through online organizing, OUR Walmart coordinated strikes on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 46 states and 100 stores. The actions put a spotlight on the world's largest retailer during one of the biggest shopping periods of the year. Walmart had its best Black Friday ever, according to the company.
Regarding associates being required to work earlier on Thanksgiving, Lundberg said, "Folks understand that when they come to work for Walmart, that we're a 24-hour store, and Thanksgiving is one of those days that we serve our customers."
Sellers went on strike on Black Friday last year and said she plans to do so again this year. "Walmart claims to be a family-oriented company," she said. "But where's the family time? They took away Easter too.
"Where is the American economy going if we're all working poverty wages?," Sellers said. "There will be no working class. We'll all be in a poverty class."
- Created on 08 November 2013
A petition has been started against EURweb writer Cory A. Haywood, for his Nov. 3 misogynist, racist rant against Black women entitled, “The Black Hat: Hey Sister, Feel Free To Pursue White Men, They Don’t Want You Anyway.”
I won’t link to it because it is a clear click-grab meant to incite, belittle and silence Black women who took offense to his Aug. 7 ignorant article entitled, “The Black Hat: Hey Sisters, Are White Women Stealing From Your Playbook?”
In that article Haywood had this to say:
Sisters, I realize this may be a touchy subject for many of you. However, my reason for writing this piece is not because I prefer cream over chocolate. It’s quite the contrary, actually. In fact, I’ve been humping black girls since the age of two and I’m never turning back. The truth is that I have the utmost respect for black women (well, most of ya’ll anyway). That’s why I have made it my life’s work to expose your flaws by any means necessary. Just think of it as tough love.
Like moths to flame, white girls are crowding tanning saloons, paying thousands of dollars for ass and lip injections, and replicating the finger-waving, eye-rolling, neck jerking, and sass-mouthing they see on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” (I’m not saying all black women demonstrate this behavior. But a lot of ya’ll do, tell the truth and shame the devil).
I know, I know. But hold on, it gets worse.
- Created on 07 November 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) – A Duval County School Board member has formally requested that the board consider changing the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School – whose namesake was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Times Union reports that on Tuesday, board member Connie Hall submitted a letter formally requesting renaming of the school. Another meeting on the issue is scheduled for Friday. The seven board members are expected to have a discussion on the matter and instruct the superintendent to formally set up procedures for possibly renaming the school, which will include soliciting community input.
"This has been in the community for quite some time, too long," Hall said. "It definitely needs to be addressed, one way or another."
Supporters of keeping the name say Forrest later disassociated himself from the Klan and objected to the group's activities.
"He was not the racist monster the media would lead you to believe he is," said Barbie LangdonRatliff, a 1976 Forrest High graduate.
Others say Forrest (pictured above) was a slave owner, slave catcher and a leader in the Confederate Army who helped found the KKK and that removing the name would help heal wounds from the past and respect today's community wish for a different name.
Wells Todd, a community member who supports a name change, said the school should be renamed to something that does not embarrass Jacksonville.
"This has gotten as far as Russia and Mexico; people all over the world are looking at us," he said.
Another supporter of a name change, Damon Jameson, agreed. "It's not just the school; it's the reputation of our city. ... If we're going to be the bold, new city of the South we need to stop kidding ourselves."
Listen to Roland Martin talk about the school's name with Omothya Richmond here.
- Created on 06 November 2013
After years of bullying and racist jokes, 19-year-old Keisha Austin decided to ditch her Black-sounding name for something more neutral. According to reports, the Kansas City, MO teen officially changed her name to Kylie.
“It’s like they assumed that I must be a certain kind of girl,” she told the Kansas City Star. “Like, my name is Keisha so they think they know something about me, and it always felt negative.”
The paper reports that kids in her predominantly White neighborhood would ask if there “was a ‘La’ or a ‘Sha’ in front of her name,” and a teacher “once asked if there was a dollar sign in her name, like the singer Ke$ha.”
Her mother Cristy, a Caucasian woman, said she named her biracial daughter Keisha because to her, it represented a “strong, feminine, beautiful black woman.”
“I saw it as a source of pride,” the single mom said. “I wanted her to have that.”
Unfortunately for Keisha-turned-Kylie, she never found pride or cultural significance in her birth name. She said Keisha was a beautiful, but it just didn’t fit her.
“It’s not something I take lightly,” she said, fighting back tears. “I put a lot of thought into it. I don’t believe you should just change your name or your face or anything like that on a whim. I didn’t want to change my name because I didn’t like it. I wanted to change my name because it didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t connect to it. I didn’t feel like myself, but I never want any girls named Keisha, or any name like that, to feel hurt or sad by it.”
MUST READ: Janelle Monae Tells Uptown Magazine “I’m Just A Ghetto Black Girl Underneath It All’
Cristy decided to make her daughter’s wish come true as an early Christmas present.
“It felt like a gift I gave to her, and she was returning it,” she said. “Keisha was the only name I ever thought of, and when I talked to her in my belly, I talked to Keisha. But she’s still the same person, regardless of her name.”
She added, “Her happiness is what is most important to me. I love and support her, and whatever she has to do to feel good on the inside, I have to be okay with that.”
Read more http://hellobeautiful.com/2013/11/05/biracial-teen-changes-her-name-from-keisha-to-kylie-to-avoid-racist-bullies/?utm_source=Chicago+Defender&utm_campaign=370ee81f21-Chicago_Defender_Digital_Daily_11_2111_21_2012&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8f5c64e318-370ee81f21-821085