Weekend reading

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The Stranger skewers sexist music journalism.

Cop caught on video telling black teen, “If you fuck with me, I’m going to break your legs.

A full-time minimum wage job won’t get you a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the US.

NASA thought Sally Ride needed 100 tampons for one week in space.

A statistical analysis shows that women and people of color are vastly underrepresented in New Yorker cartoons.

Funny women Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Gina Rodriguez and more talk about sexism in Hollywood.

Comedian W. Kamau Bell shares the story of a racist encounter in Berkeley and discusses how to talk to children about racism.

A comic that perfectly explains wealth and privilege.

A group of wealthy young people is raising money for “black liberation.”

 

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Don’t give up on voting just yet

Voter photobombing Mitch McConnell, via abcnews.com
Voter photobombing Mitch McConnell, via abcnews.com

Last week was rough for progressives, to put it mildly. Some reactionary, frightening candidates were able to win competitive races and take over the Senate. Key governorships were lost. Of course, this is all cyclical to a degree, as Jon Stewart pointed out by pulling up some 2-year-old footage about the “bloodbath” endured by Republicans. There are many conversations to be had about what our side could have done better in various races. In the meantime, people will face real consequences, whether they’re young immigrants who are waiting for their chance to become citizens or low-income people who desperately need the Medicaid expansion that Republican governors refuse to implement. It can be incredibly disheartening to people who poured time and money into this year’s elections, and made their voices heard at the ballot box. Some people want to throw their hands up at a process that seems to have been coopted by the Koch brothers and their friends. Amidst the deluge of bad news, we can’t lose sight of the real, meaningful impact we still managed to have this election.

Continue reading “Don’t give up on voting just yet”

What’s at stake in this election

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It’s midterm election season, which means an onslaught of frantic emails and late night TV jokes about how no one cares about the midterm elections. Without a presidential race at the top of the ticket (though frighteningly we’re already having the 2016 conversation), a lot of people are content to let this one pass them by. As with most elections, there’s a lot at stake, and the results will directly impact our lives. I could go on about control of the Senate, extremely close gubernatorial races and state legislatures that have passed everything from Stand Your Ground to draconian voter ID laws. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on some of the issues on the ballot around the country, and opportunities we have to beat back offensive laws or proactively be more bold than our governments are willing to be on their own.

Continue reading “What’s at stake in this election”

Weekend reading

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Celebrating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 21 years on the Supreme Court.

A male CEO explains why he’s quitting for better work/life balance and discusses the double standards around career and gender.

The perfect response to people who say they don’t want Muslims on their flights.

A new billboard campaign teaches tourists about states’ poor treatment of women.

15 pioneering women in computer science.

The interim president of Kentucky State University is giving up $90,000 of his salary to give minimum wage workers a raise.

 

Weekend reading

photo from jezebel.com
photo from jezebel.com

Fast food worker strikes are growing, and the restaurant industry is scared.

A roundup of feminists on Monica Lewinsky.

Eight racial justice activists share political wisdom from their mothers.

On how #BringBackOurGirls can feed into the militarization of US policy in Africa and the white savior complex.

Are US voters ready for an unabashedly pro-choice candidate?

A woman films her abortion to demystify and destigmatize the procedure.

When an hour of wages won’t even buy you a loaf of bread

Through high school and college I waited tables at a handful of places, mostly chain restaurants in areas where there weren’t many other sit-down restaurant options. While I was lucky enough to be a student only working for spending money, that wasn’t the majority of the people I worked with. Most were women for whom waitressing was their main source of income. Or women like my mom, a single mother recently graduated after returning to college and supplementing her income to support the family, who waited tables at the same restaurant as me at the same time (yes, when you’re a teenager you find it annoying to have your mom on your case about cleaning at home and at work).

Opponents of minimum wage increases portray this underpaid workforce as plucky kids earning some pocket money and working their way up the chain. It wasn’t true when I was waiting tables, and it’s not true now. And making a living on the minimum wage is even more precarious when you work for tips. It’s mind-boggling that more than a decade after I stopped waiting tables, most servers are still making the same $2.13 per hour:

“When you earn a wage of $2 or $5, you don’t actually earn a wage at all. Your wage is so low it goes entirely to taxes and you get a pay stub that says ‘This is not a paycheck’. It says ‘$0’. And you live off of your tips,” explains Jayaraman. Restaurant workers are also required by law to claim their tips as income. The tax on their combined income – hourly wage plus tips – is considerably more than what they would pay on their hourly pay.

Relying mostly on tips for one’s income is not just an issue of income instability, but also that of job insecurity that comes with having a seasonal job. “When you live off of tips, your rent and your bills don’t go up and down, but your income does. It varies day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year,” says Jayaraman. “You don’t actually have an income. In fact, you are interviewing for your job every time a new customer sits down.”

Saru Jayaraman of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United points out that 70% of tipped workers are women, and work at place like Applebee’s, The Olive Garden and Red Lobster. I did a brief stint at an Applebee’s in college, and in addition to a stifling amount of corporate lessons and paperwork, we were given a small number of tables to tend to so their customers would get good service–but we missed out on a high enough volume to make good money. I had the luxury of leaving if it was slow or passing off a table if I wanted to leave and hang out with friends, but a lot of the people I worked with took every customer they could get to supplement the meager hourly wage.

ROC United has a petition you can sign here to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage for all workers, including tipped servers.