Unpaid Labor Contribution-Too Big to Ignore


A recent editorial in the Detroit Free Press by Stephen Henderson intrigues us. His topic: The reason to talk about race and racism. The topic interests us because it goes to the heart of Unpaid Labor Contribution. Stated plainly, the Contribution of the first 12 generations of African Americans to the success of the United States is massive. Everyone benefited from it directly or indirectly. Everyone benefits from it today. And it’s equally true that everyone was hurt by it and that everyone is hurt by it today. Henderson connects the past to the present in touching both of these themes.

He connects the past to the present by discussing the success of one of our most prominent founding fathers – Ben Franklin. Among other things Franklin was a very successful newspaper publisher. After he had made his fortune he became an abolitionist. While he was making his fortune he profited greatly from slaves and slavery. How did he do it? He sold advertising in his paper for buying and selling slaves, slave auctions, finding escaped slaves, and selling slaves he accepted on consignment. 

One can only imagine the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Ben Franklins whose fortunes were made and passed on generation after generation. Banking. Shipbuilding. Insurance. Manufacturing. Farming. Mining. Logging. Distilling, Construction, and on and on and on. This went on and on and on for 250 years. This went on for 169 years before we became a nation. Unpaid Labor made great fortunes.

One can only imagine the thousands upon thousands of Unpaid Laborers whose misfortunes were made for them and passed on generation after generation.  Slavery made great misfortunes. From either perspective Unpaid Labor runs so deeply through the foundation of every aspect of America that the whole enterprise would collapse if it were removed. The past is connected with the here and now.

Henderson’s editorial mentions the wealth gap and police shootings of black men and extraordinary wealth created by Unpaid Labor. He mentions his readers who say enough is enough with all the race talk. We’re tired. It makes us uncomfortable. He says more talk is needed not less.

Unpaid Labor agrees with him. We believe that more talk is needed. We believe that the discussion must include honoring the Contribution of 12.5 million people working their entire lifetimes for 250 years as the foundation of the most successful nation in modern history. The fortunes and misfortunes associated with that singularly significant fact in the history of our country demand the discussion.

Photo Credit: TheConsultantLounge.com