Marzena Zukowska, NDWA: (872) 216-3684, [email protected]
The Rundown’s New “Hidden Figures” Episode Elevates the Key Role of Black Women & Domestic Workers in the #MeToo Movement
New York, New York -- Last night, the late-night BET comedy show, The Rundown with Robin Thede, aired a special called “Hidden Figures” on the critical role of Black women and domestic workers in the fight against sexual harassment.
The six-minute segment featured interviews with Alicia Garza, Strategy and Partnerships Director at National Domestic Alliance, and June Barrett, domestic worker and and organizer with the Miami Workers Center and NDWA’s We Dream in Black program, and it tackled the historical and current realities of sexual violence in the workplace. They were joined by Tarana Burke, founder of the “Me Too” movement and Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading civil rights advocate and scholar who was part of Anita Hill’s legal team during the famous Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.
Since the 1930’s, domestic workers -- nannies, housecleaners, and care workers -- along with farmworkers have been excluded from the most basic labor laws in the United States, including minimum wage, overtime, and protection of harassment and discrimination. In fact, this was direct result of Jim Crow era laws, which on the heels of the eradication slavery, aimed to deny Black workers employment protections.
Alicia said: “...not all women are protected from sexual harassment and sexual violence. The EEOC only recognizes a workplace as one which has 15 or more employees. Domestic workers don’t work in those contexts.”
Many domestic workers, like June Barrett who cares for the elderly, continue to face rampant sexual violence in the workplace.
June said: “So as I was in the bathroom assisting him, he reached over and literally grabbed my crotch. It was traumatizing. I needed to pay for my medication, I needed to pay rent. I didn’t want to be homeless. So I had to stay until I [could] find another job. There was nowhere to turn.”
Stories like June’s are all too common. Through the leadership and organizing of Black domestic workers, particularly those in the South, workplace protections have been expanded. Yet many exclusions still remain. This is why NDWA is hosting a Lobby Day on April 24th along with Alianza de Campesinas (National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance), to tell lawmakers that any loopholes or exceptions to labor protections around sexual harassment need to be closed.
June said: “All domestic workers deserve fair wages, protection against sexual harassment. Our work is the work that makes YOUR work possible. Respect us...At the end of the day, I’m fighting for all women. I do it with love and a lot of power.”