If you've been a bit like me and spent anytime at all in the world of Instagram, you know there is something amiss.
The Harper Collins Union has been striking since what feels like the entire holiday season, since November, I believe.
These are the publishers folks who, we writers depend on to get our words into a semblance of a book for that coveted space on a store shelf.
The agents, the editors, the assistants, all the people behind the scenes who make it work.
Just as I was absorbing that news and supporting the strike while also supporting the AfroDiasporan authors whose works is on a Harper Collins Imprint, I looked up and the New York Times workers and staff are on strike.
What is going on in these information streets?
Harper Collins and the New York Times and now even Starbucks is on strike as well as some workers in the south, are all related to the ways giant corporations have confiscated power and put a chokehold on life.
They realized what some of the earliest folks in America realized when they came together for Bacon's Rebellion - there is strength in numbers, they are the ones doing the real work, and the oligarchs are just reaping the benefits while not sharing a bit of the rewards. They realized they did not have to be afraid and starve to death for some ideal of nobility that isn't even supported to be a part of this country.
Now, if you've read anything of history and have delved a bit into African American historical narratives, you know that Bacon's Rebellion ended in a very public display of the powers-that-be exerting all their authority through the full weight and support of the military and police. That is how that happened, that is how Tamir Rice and Mike Brown and Philando Castille and even George Floyd protests all ended in some ways.
So it begged the question to see this morning, what will come of these strikes?
The powers-that-be have a vested interest in keeping people scared, hungry, and in competition with each other.
It is not coincidental that we have seen stories of the Iranian protests and the hangings of protestors who dared to stand against a totalitarian regime or that the Russians are trying to obliterate anything of Ukrainian cultural heritage or that even now down in El Paso TX, Hispanic migrants have made it through the treacherous journey across Mexico in the United States and are just seeking asylum. It is no coincidence that these stories are cloaked in the American media tool of fear, keep you afraid of the other and what the other is coming to take from you.
Then to top it all off, Covid is still happening and there is talk of a recession, all of this swirling around the communications spaces of social media with the will-he-or-won't-he look at the tweetybirddictatorwannabeonthatbluebirdspace.
Some of it, all of it, is designed to keep you distracted, to not have you stop and think, to not put things together.
That is the annoying space of writers, especially those who engage in long-form narrative and works that explore history against culture, race, politics, and society.
I am not an historian.
I read them and consider them.
I am not a sociologist.
I am not a politician.
I am, however, an observer. A muse. A writer and independent scholar. I read widely and think deeply.
This is what I think is happening.
We are in another shift, a wave of moments that can have another generational impact on this country.
Last year, there was a great push from the ignorant supplied by the powerful, to storm school boards and demand that books be taken off shelves, all against the boogeyman of race theory that none of them could describe. That sucked up all the energy of the last school year, into the summer.
Denial of history is only part of it.
It is denial of the lessons of history and the cultural shift that is happening in a country that is more sun kissed than melanin-deficient.
It is the want of rewriting history and literally whitewashing anything that has anything to do with the atrocities committed.
A lot like what the famous young royal couple shared in their very poignant and personal story on that streaming service - they pulled back the smokescreen.
That is what is happening.
There has always been this illusion that the rich and powerful were somehow smarter, more deserving of all they had when in fact it was inherited off the backs of someone else's blood, sweat, and tears. And the backs once bent are standing up and saying hold on, wait a minute, we are not in ignorant darkness, it doesn't have to be this way. Greed does not have to win.
Human beings are not meant to work until death.
Human beings deserve times of rest and recreation, to have recovery if they are sick, to be able to be refreshed and renewed in their daily lives.
That is not meant just for the wealthiest to have a life of leisure and just sit there while others work hard.
That is not the way it is supposed to be.
And people are waking up to that fact, realizing there are more of them and if they work together, they can achieve their goals and be present in their own liberation.
I'm here for it.
It is the Monday of Christmas week and instead of being with their families, they are striking, It is twenty-eight days for Harper Collins and nothing from the top. They think they can harm these people into submission, but I have a feeling they are ready for the long haul.
Writers deserve to be able to eat.
Editors deserve to be able to eat.
Agents deserve to be able to eat
Baristas and rail workers and construction crews and maintenance technicians and grocery workers and everyone else whose labor is an act of service that makes life easier for all of us.
All work is dignity and all work deserves to be able to live from what they do.
That's what I'm thinking about.
©2022. All Rights Reserved. Taye Foster Bradshaw is sipping a latte not from Starbucks and wondering about life.