You Know Who Didn’t Complain About Minimum Wage? The Slaves.


Okay, so I recently took a night off from blogging to treat myself to a movie on a me-date and I went to see 12 Years A Slave. I know I’m a little late to the party on this one but, holy shit, what a powerful fucking film. For the unaware, Slave is the true story of Solomon Northup, an African American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. It goes without saying that the film was incredibly poignant and gripping, but what I found to be the most compelling aspect of it was how incredibly relatable it was, even now, 250 years after it was filmed.

I’m a white woman, so obviously I have a lot in common with the slaves. In a lot of ways, we’re kind of like the slaves of the 21st century. Were underrepresented in the media, we’re constantly struggling to empower ourselves, and our underground railroad has been taken from us by men who spread their legs on the subway. Instead of cotton fields, we’re whipped and beaten in the fields of science and technology, which are overwhelmingly dominated by our male overseers. I cried the entire way through Slave, not just for Solomon Northup, but also for myself.

That’s why it really grinds my gears when I hear about fast food workers complaining about low wages. Hey–at least you’re getting paid. You should be thankful for it. You work in a fast food restaurant, it’s not like it’s a real job like managing social media or organizing birthday parties for an HR department. You take people’s money and hand them a cheeseburger, any idiot could do that. Maybe if you learned a real skill like Microsoft PowerPoint or how to use a multiline phone system, you could do a job that actually benefits society and secure your place as an invaluable asset among your peers.

The overall theme in 12 Years A Slave was that hard work pays off.

In the film, one of the slaves, a young woman (fuck yeah!), is routinely shown to pick more cotton than any of the other slaves. In return, she earns the respect and admiration of the plantation owner, who eventually develops a crush on her, to the dismay of his wife. (I thought this was a clever tip of the hat by the director to show us how much slavery had an impact on its real victims–the white wives of plantation owners.) Things don’t work out too well for her, but she tried, and that’s what’s important!

Solomon learns to keep his head down and go about his work without causing trouble or asking for assistance. Eventually, his hard work pays off when he meets Brad Pitt’s character, who essentially ‘blogs’ on Solomon’s behalf by airing his opinions without any solicitation. Solomon’s friends in the North find out about his troubles, and he is free to return to his life of violin, bowties, and parenting.

I think the film serves as a perfect reminder to minimum wage workers that it’s important to just be quiet and do the work you’re told to do. Gracefully accept your position in life and know that if you don’t step on anyone’s toes, and don’t act up, someday, you might be able to afford yourself a better situation. The slaves knew that if they worked as hard as they could, one day they would be rewarded for it. They knew that one day, they could have their own plantation, with their own slaves. It was called the American Dream.

You see that’s how systems of power work–the people on the top are just waiting to give their power away, they just know that they can’t yet because the people on the bottom wouldn’t know what to do with it. You can’t be trusted with more than $7.25 an hour. McDonald’s knows this, and you should respect them and thank them for their insight. Do you honestly think a company that’s run by a clown doesn’t know how economy works? Have you seen how many they can fit into a car? They wouldn’t tell you that a pay raise would hurt the economy if it wasn’t true.

Beyond that, we already have a public assistance program in place for the needy–it’s called the lottery, and it only costs a dollar. Right now, the Mega Millions jackpot is at 450 million dollars. If you’re struggling to feed your family, and you’re not spending every single dollar on lottery tickets, the blame falls squarely on you for your troubles.

I’m sorry, but I just have no sympathy for anyone who is not in my particular situation.

I just don’t understand why they can’t take a page out of the slaves’ book and learn the meaning of hard work and being grateful. Or maybe invent Jazz. Have you thought of that? Everyone loves Jazz. You know how much people were paid to invent Jazz? Nothing. They did it because they had entrepreneurial spirit–something that everyone is born with, and if you’re not starting businesses and inventing things it’s because you’re lazy.