I was disturbed to find out Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich recently made this statement and there were Black people who agreed:
“‘Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and nobody around them who works,’ Gingrich replied. ‘So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.'” –latimes.com
Firstly, this is already happening and we should not pretend it’s not. Corporations still regularly violate child labor laws. See: VIDEO: The Harvest/La Cosecha Tells The Story Of The Children Who Feed America
No, people should not deliver even more children to the capitalist machine because we tried that and some of them died, as they are still dying, being abused and exploited, getting sick, and suffering from a low life expectancy overseas in factories making goods to be sold to people like us in places like Walmart.
It’s not that child labor should be for them (so called developing or third worlders) and not us (so called first worlders) because it used to be done here. The point is that it shouldn’t be done anywhere.
I intended to comment on congressional candidate Jack Davis’ comment that Latinos should be deported and African Americans should be bused to farms to pick crops.
“We have a huge unemployment problem with black youth in our cities. Put them on buses, take them out there [to the farms] and pay them a decent wage; they will work.” –newsone.com
This statement is also problematic and doesn’t take into consideration the economic exploitation conventional farm workers endure, the toll on their health, the health of the land and environment when growing food in a monoculture, and the government subsidies given to huge corporate farms which could be better spent than propping up exploitative corporations.
Back to Newt Gingrich. If poor in his statement is poor Black inner city children then surely there’s a better way to socialize them in the workforce than the exploitation, higher dropout rates, and lower employment prospects based on their education and experience that are sure to follow. Also, the vague idea thrown in that child labor might be a good answer to the drug trade in our communities is ludicrous. The statement seems carefully crafted though and picks up on the desperation and fear many older folks in the Black community feel towards the Black youth.
The idea that nobody around them works is also outrageous and exaggerated while pointing to the “poor people are poor or unemployed because they’re lazy” meme. The high unemployment rates don’t point to Americans being lazy though. They point to an eroded manufacturing base, the computerization of the workplace, outsourcing etc. There’s no need to make this a personal responsibility argument when it comes to Black people. We could, however, allow this to statement to highlight the dearth of Black owned businesses which would have provided better workplace socialization, economic opportunity, insulation from high unemployment rates, and a sense of pride in young Black people than the narrow offerings of Walmart or McDonalds.
It can be fun to sit around debating the points of children working but if you were a working child you wouldn’t have time for it. I don’t mean to give this Republican nominee all of this time and space on this site because i would never vote for him but I understand these are the ideas that are out there and I wanted to address them.
Why is it never the suggestion that Black owned businesses should be supported and encouraged to hire young Blacks? I mean that as a rhetorical question, but whenever these schemes are introduced we must be mindful of the fact that the youth and the environment are denigrated, sometimes destroyed, and nobody is set up to really win but corporations.