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  • I want to talk to you tonight

  • about the work that makes all other work possible,

  • about the millions of women who go to work in our homes

  • every single day,

  • caring for children as nannies,

  • caring for our loved ones with disabilities and our elders,

  • as home care workers,

  • maintaining sanity in our homes as cleaners.

  • It's the work that makes all other work possible.

  • And it's mostly done by women, more than 90 percent women,

  • disproportionately women of color.

  • And the work itself is associated with work that women have historically done,

  • work that's been made incredibly invisible

  • and taken for granted in our culture.

  • But it's so fundamental to everything else in our world.

  • It makes it possible for all of us to go out and do what we do in the world

  • every single day,

  • knowing that the most precious aspects of our lives are in good hands.

  • But we don't think about it that way.

  • It's almost defined by its invisibility.

  • You could go into any neighborhood

  • and not know which homes are also workplaces.

  • There's no sign.

  • There's no list or registry.

  • It's just invisible.

  • And it's this work that is not even referred to as real work.

  • It's referred to as "help."

  • It's often seen as unskilled,

  • not seen as professional.

  • And race has played a profound role in how we value this work in our culture.

  • Some of the first domestic workers in the United States were black women

  • who were enslaved,

  • and racial exclusion has shaped their conditions for generations.

  • In the 1930s, when Congress was discussing the labor laws

  • that would be a part of the New Deal,

  • that would protect all workers,

  • Southern members of Congress refused to support those labor laws

  • if they included protections for domestic workers and farmworkers.

  • That history of racial exclusion

  • and our cultural devaluing of work that's associated with women

  • now means that millions of women go to work every single day,

  • work incredibly hard

  • and still can't make ends meet.

  • They earn poverty wages without a safety net,

  • so that the women that we're counting on to take care of us and our families

  • can't take care of their own, doing this work.

  • But my work over the last 20 years has been about changing precisely that.

  • It's about making these jobs good jobs that you can take pride in

  • and support your family on.

  • At the National Domestic Workers Alliance, we've been working hard in states

  • to pass new laws that will protect domestic workers from discrimination

  • and sexual harassment,

  • that will create days of rest, paid time off, even.

  • So far, eight states have passed domestic workers bills of rights.

  • Yes.

  • (Applause)

  • And during the Obama administration,

  • we were successful in bringing two million home care workers

  • under minimum wage and overtime protections

  • for the first time since 1937.

  • (Applause)

  • Most recently, we've been really excited to launch a new portable benefits platform

  • for domestic workers, called "Alia,"

  • which allows for domestic workers with multiple clients

  • to give them access to benefits for the very first time.

  • So really important progress is being made.

  • But I would argue tonight

  • that one of the most important things that domestic workers can provide

  • is actually what they can teach us

  • about humanity itself

  • and about what it will take to create a more humane world for our children.

  • In the face of extreme immorality,

  • domestic workers can be our moral compass.

  • And it makes sense,

  • because what they do is so fundamental

  • to the very basics of human need and humanity.

  • They are there when we are born into this world;

  • they shape who we become in this world;

  • and they are with us as we prepare to leave this world.

  • And their experiences with families are so varied.

  • They have some relationships with the families that they work for

  • that are incredibly positive and mutually supportive

  • and last for years and years.

  • And then the opposite also happens.

  • And we've seen cases of sexual violence and assault,

  • of extreme forms of abuse and exploitation.

  • We've seen cases of human trafficking.

  • Domestic workers live in poor neighborhoods,

  • and then they go to work in very wealthy ones.

  • They cross cultures and generations and borders and boundaries,

  • and their job, no matter what,

  • is to show up and care --

  • to nurture, to feed, to clothe, to bathe,

  • to listen, to encourage,

  • to ensure safety,

  • to support dignity ...

  • to care no matter what.

  • I want to tell you a story of a woman I met early on in this work.

  • Her name is Lily.

  • Lily and her family lived in Jamaica,

  • and when she was 15 years old, she was approached by an American couple

  • who were looking for a live-in nanny to come live with them

  • in the United States

  • and help them care for their children.

  • They offered Lily's family that if she came to work as their nanny,

  • she would be able to have access to a US education,

  • and she would have a weekly salary sent home to help her family financially.

  • They decided it was a good idea

  • and decided to take the opportunity.

  • Lily held up her end of the bargain

  • and helped to raise three children.

  • But all communication with her family was severed:

  • no letters, no phone calls.

  • She was never allowed to go to school,

  • and she was never paid --

  • for 15 years.

  • One day, she saw an article in a newspaper about another domestic worker

  • with a really similar story to hers,

  • another case that I was working on at the time,

  • and she found a way to reach me.

  • She also found a way to reach her brother,

  • who was living in the United States at the time as well.

  • Between the two of us, we were able to help her escape.

  • And she had the help of one of the children.

  • One of the children was old enough to realize

  • that the way his nanny was being treated was wrong,

  • and he gave her the money that he had been saving through his childhood

  • to help her escape.

  • But here's the thing about this story.

  • She was essentially enslaved for 15 years.

  • Human trafficking and slavery is a criminal offense.

  • And so her lawyers and I asked Lily,

  • did she want to press criminal charges for what had happened to her.

  • And after thinking about what it would mean,

  • she said no,

  • because she didn't want the children to be separated from their parents.

  • Instead, we filed a civil lawsuit, and we eventually won the case,

  • and her case became a rallying cry for domestic workers everywhere.

  • She was reunited with her family and went on to have a family of her own.

  • But the thing that's so profound to me about this story

  • is, despite having 15 years stolen from her life,

  • it did not affect the care and compassion that she felt for the children.

  • And I see this from domestic workers all the time.

  • In the face of indignities

  • and our failure to respect and value this work in our culture,

  • they still show up,

  • and they care.

  • They're simply too proximate to our shared humanity.

  • They know how your toddler likes to be held

  • as they take their bottle before a nap.

  • They know how your mother likes her tea,

  • how to make her smile and tell stories despite her dementia.

  • They are so proximate to our humanity.

  • They know that at the end of the day,

  • these are people who are part of families --

  • someone's mother,

  • someone's grandmother,

  • someone's best friend

  • and someone's baby;

  • undeniably human,

  • and therefore, not disposable.

  • Domestic workers know that any time a single person becomes disposable,

  • it's a slippery slope.

  • You see, the cultural devaluing of domestic work

  • is a reflection of a hierarchy of human value

  • that defines everything in our world,

  • a hierarchy that values the lives and contributions

  • of some groups of people over others,

  • based on race, gender,

  • class, immigration status --

  • any number of categories.

  • And that hierarchy of human value requires stories about those groups of people

  • in order to sustain itself.

  • So these stories have seeped deep into our culture

  • about how some people are less intelligent,

  • some people are less intuitive,

  • weaker,

  • by extension, less trustworthy,

  • less valuable

  • and ultimately,

  • less human.

  • And domestic workers know it's a slippery slope

  • when we start to see a worker as less than a real worker,

  • to a woman as less than a woman,

  • to a mother as less than a mother,

  • to a child as less than a child.

  • In the spring of 2018,

  • the Trump administration announced a new policy at the US-Mexico border,

  • a zero-tolerance policy,

  • to forcibly separate all children from their parents,

  • who were arriving at the border seeking asylum;

  • children as young as 18 months, separated from their parents

  • after a long and arduous journey to reach the US-Mexico border

  • in search of safety and a new beginning.

  • Thousands of children separated.

  • And because they were migrants,

  • they were treated as less than children.

  • In response, I helped to organize the Families Belong Together Vigil

  • at the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, Texas,

  • on Father's Day.

  • Inside that processing center, there were hundreds of children

  • who were being held, processed

  • and then prepared to be shipped all over country

  • to be jailed in facilities hundreds of miles away from their parents.

  • I saw with my own eyes

  • children not [old] enough for kindergarten

  • in unmarked buses,

  • being shipped off to jails hundreds of miles away.

  • And as they passed us by,

  • they reached for us through the windows,

  • as we stood vigil to let them know that they are not alone,

  • and we are fighting for them.

  • Domestic workers came from all over Texas to be a part of the vigil.

  • They saw in those families their own family stories.

  • They had also come here in search of safety and a new beginning,

  • a better life for their families,

  • and they saw in the eyes of those children

  • their own children.

  • And through our tears,

  • we looked at each other and we asked each other,

  • "How did we get here,

  • to putting children in cages

  • and separating them from the people who love them the most in the world?"

  • How?

  • And what I thought to myself was: if domestic workers were in charge,

  • this never would have happened.

  • Our humanity would never have been so disposable

  • that we would be treating children in this way.

  • The Dalai Lama once said that love and compassion are necessities,

  • not luxuries.

  • Without them, humanity cannot survive.

  • In other words, they are fundamental to human existence.

  • Domestic workers are in charge of the fundamentals.

  • They love and they care,

  • and they show compassion no matter what.

  • We live in a time of moral choices

  • everywhere we turn:

  • at the border,

  • at the ballot box,

  • in our workplaces,

  • right in our homes, full of moral choices.

  • As you go about your day and you encounter these moral choices,

  • think of Lily.

  • Think like Lily.

  • Think like a domestic worker who shows up and cares no matter what.

  • Love and compassion, no matter what.

  • Show up like a domestic worker,

  • because our children are counting on us.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I want to talk to you tonight

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【TED】The work that makes all other work possible | Ai-jen Poo

  • 331 8
    林宜悉   に公開 2019 年 01 月 10 日
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