Forty-seven years after the Poor People’s Campaign ended, political discussion in liberal activist circles has bifurcated in unnecessary ways. There are separate economic and racial justice movements, and as my Salon colleague Joan Walsh points out, political leaders too often speak to only one or the other. But these movements are different facets of one fight; if black lives matter, surely their economic lives matter too. And a new report shows that people of color still face discrimination and hardship in their fight for economic dignity, as sure as they do in the fight for basic respect.
The report, released today by the think tank Demos and the NAACP, focuses on African-American and Latino workers in the retail industry. While we’re supposed to believe that e-commerce and Amazon’s dominance has destroyed retail, the industry is actually the fastest growing in America, representing one out of every six new jobs in the economy last year. And while low wages and occupational hazards define retail work generally, that experience is even worse for people of color.