(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 92)
On June 19th, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, General Gordon Granger for President Lincoln’s Union army issued an order to the people of Texas from Galveston, Texas:
The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Why does this matter in Los Angeles, California, which wasn’t even a part of the U.S. northern states until 1848? Because chattel slavery in the United States was critically an economic condition, in which masses of laborers toiled daily for next to nothing as a small handful of masters profited immensely in a system enforced by laws, armed forces, and lies.
155 years later, today the relation between labor and profit is still a shining model of masses toiling daily for little return while CEOs like Jeff Bezos stand to make over a trillion dollars. Closer to home, one can find a myriad of bodies at countless L.A. kitchens, delivery, transportation and sanitation services, and at warehouses and factories, where sometimes workers produce for as little as $4.66 an hour, and where sometimes they’re not even properly paid that.
It’s clear then that we’re much closer to the past than it might seem, Los Angeles. But once we learn it, it’s also true that we’re that much closer to the better future we can aspire to.
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