This Labor Day, we invite you to read Solid Ground’s Labor Acknowledgement, which recognizes the U.S.’s historic patterns of exploitive, racist, and oppressive labor practices. It includes our agency’s commitments to improve the economic status of groups most impacted as well as staff-curated Labor Learning Resources.
The acknowledgement and resources are the culmination of months of thoughtful discussions and research by Solid Ground staff and community members, including our advocacy partners at the Statewide Poverty Action Network, Solid Ground’s staff Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI) Steering Committee, and many union and management team employees as well. We’re grateful to all for their contributions and care in crafting this living document.
Like most modern-day U.S. institutions, Solid Ground benefits from the unaddressed legacy of stolen labor at the foundation of this nation and its vast and inequitable wealth.
We respectfully acknowledge our debt to the enslaved people, primarily of African descent, whose labor and suffering built and grew the economy and infrastructure of a nation that refused to recognize their humanity.
While the 13th Amendment to the Constitution technically ended “slavery” in the U.S., we know that slavery’s ongoing impacts are still felt by countless people forced – through violence, threats, and coercion – to work in the U.S.
We recognize our debt to exploited workers past and present whose labor was and continues to be stolen through unjust practices.
We acknowledge our collective debt to the Indigenous peoples of this land whose labor was forced and exploited, the Chinese immigrants who built railroads that allowed for westward American development, Japanese Americans whose properties and livelihoods were taken from them while incarcerated during World War II, and migrant workers from the Philippines, Mexico, and Central and South America who have worked Pacific Northwest farms and canneries.
We recognize the immigrant and American-born workers of African, Asian, and Central and South American descent whose labor remains hidden in the shadows but still contributes to the wellbeing of our collective community.
We recognize that our economy continues to rely on the exploited labor of incarcerated people, largely people of color, who earn pennies an hour while generating billions in goods and services each year. And we know there are many other people, too numerous to mention, who are prevented from reaping the true value of their labor by unjust systems and cruel practices.
We mourn their loss of life, liberty, and opportunity.
We acknowledge that the theft of labor is the theft of generational progress. Nearly all people of color have been robbed of the opportunity and wealth that their ancestors might otherwise have passed on to them.
Solid Ground commits to improving the economic status of these communities by:
- Ensuring that our programs and services are delivered equitably.
- Investing our money in goods and services provided by businesses owned and operated by these communities.
- Valuing lived experiences of poverty in our hiring.
- Ensuring equitable access to Solid Ground’s training, promotion opportunities, and professional development.
- Developing deeper relations with communities impacted by these inequities to learn the best ways we can support improving their economic status through our advocacy and programming.
Labor Learning Resources
- The Case for Reparations – Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014
- Ta-Nehisi Coates Revisits the Case for Reparations – Interview with The New Yorker, June 2019
- California Reparations Task Force Details Proposals in Interim Report – Oluwadamilola Animashaun, Stanford Center for Racial Justice, June 2022
- Why we need reparations for Black Americans – Rashawn Ray and Andre M. Perry, The Brookings Institution, April 2020
- Migrant workers leave WA farms, risking poverty instead of coronavirus – Lilly Fowler, Crosscut, September 2020
- Farmworker Housing in Washington State: Safe, Decent and Affordable – Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, March 2005
- A History of Farm Labor Organizing, 1890-2009 – Oscar Rosales-Castañeda, Maria Quintana, and James Gregory, Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium, University of Washington
- Sliced and Diced: The Labor We Eat – José García-Pabón, Latino Community Studies and Outreach, Washington State University Extension
- US Department of Labor debars Washington orchard operator who verbally abused, threatened foreign farmworkers; violated federal workers’ program – U.S. Department of Labor press release, Seattle, July 2022
- For migrant farm workers, housing is not just a determinant of health, but a determinant of death – Anelyse Weiler and C. Susana Caxaj, Workday Minnesota
- History Café: Filipino American Labor Activism in the Fields and Canneries – Video recorded presentation by Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), April 2021
Chinese Railroad Workers
- Legacy and the story of the Chinese railroad workers – U.S. Forest Service, October 2020
- The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad – Edited by Gordon H. Chang, Stanford University Press, 2019
- Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad – Gordon H. Chang, Mariner Books, May 2020
- Life in incarceration: Japanese Americans in WA reflect on WWII – Maleeha Syed, Crosscut, March 2022
- World War II Japanese American Internment — Seattle/King County – David Takami, HistoryLink.org, November 1998
- Day of Remembrance 2021 – “Never Again: The Story of the Japanese American Incarceration” – Washington State Historical Society on YouTube, May 2021
- Remembrance: The Legacy of Executive Order 9066 in Washington State – Permanent exhibition of the Washington State Historical Society
- The Dark History of the Washington State Fairgrounds During WWII – Steve Dunkelberger, SouthSoundTalk
Native American Labor
- Indigenous Hop Pickers in Western Washington – Hans Zeiger, HistoryLink.org, October 2021
- The Enslaved Native Americans Who Made The Gold Rush Possible – Erin Blakemore, History.com, August 2018
- Slavery By Another Name – Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California, a project of ACLU of Northern California
- Native American Captivity and Slavery in North America, 1492–1848 – Ann Little, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, February 2022
- “These Indians Are Apparently Well to Do”: The Myth of Capitalism and Native American Labor – Vera Parham, September 2012
- Forced Labor in the United States – Becky Giovagnoni and Mary Nikkel, The Exodus Road, July 2021
- List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor – Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor
- Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States – Free the Slaves & Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley, September 2004
- Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers – The ACLU and the Global Human Rights Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School, 2022
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