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Passing the Whip to Bezos

Delivered Juneteenth 2020, Oakland Port Shutdown

July 8, 2020

We are doing a rally, a vigil tonight, to highlight the fact that our police kill Black women and trans women and nobody does anything about it! So, I know people feel like I shouldn’t have reached out because no one reached out to me, and I got my ass on here. So make a space for me, and let me say my little piece.

Please. I just need people to back up and give me some space. Listen. My name is Adrienne, I’m from Richmond, California. I went to Portola Junior High and El Cerrito High School. I love the Bay Area. I can’t think of a better place to live. I used to be a junior high school teacher for a charter network called Summit Public Schools, created by Mark Zuckerberg and a horrible woman named Diane Tavenner. And I quit, because they are undereducating our kids. They’re falsifying grades, graduation rates, and acceptance rates in college, and are illegally data mining the kids’ information.

I thought being a driver for Amazon would be a good way for me to clear my head and figure things out. But all it did was open my eyes to the dirty game our government allows corporations to play with our lives. And here it is: We all know Bezos doesn’t pay taxes. But he isn’t opposed to paying the money. He wants us all to know he paid a hundred million dollars to food banks over the past few months.

I want him to know we see what he’s doing. He could’ve put that money into the pockets of his workers and let us keep our dignity. But the goal was never to feed the poor, it was to remind us of our place. Not paying taxes means our public school lose money. Again, Bezos is not opposed to paying that money. He makes massive donations to charter networks like Summit Public Schools, and then Mark Zuckerberg turns around and he makes sure that unionization talk on Facebook is pushed to the bottom so we can’t fight for ourselves.

Now they can put public schools out of business and educate our kids however they see fit. Because a stupid population is an easily controlled population. On this Day of Emancipation, I argue that our government never ended slavery, they merely passed the whip to titans of industry like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. How do you control a population without actual chains? Through poverty, under education, and fear.

I want him to know we see what he’s doing. He could’ve put that money into the pockets of his workers and let us keep our dignity. But the goal was never to feed the poor, it was to remind us of our place.

I take offense to the solidarity of Jeff Bezos with Black lives. When so many of his warehouse workers and drivers are Black, that is by design. When we are told that if we defend ourselves on the road, if we are attacked, we will be fired; when women can’t use pepper spray; when a customer’s smile outranks my safety; that is not solidarity! Just the fact that we are referred to as unskilled workers demonstrates a lack of solidarity.

He pays us so little out here that we work two to three jobs while we sleep in our cars, under underpasses, and are in constant debt. The time has come to stop allowing dynasties to be built off the workhorse slave labor of Black bodies. Jeff Bezos will say, “If you ask my competitors, you’ll find that $15 an hour is competitive.” When $100,000 a year is considered low income in the Bay Area, I call bullshit on your $15 an hour.

That sounds like price fixing, and price fixing is illegal. What we know now is that scientists have deemed poverty a pre-existing condition. Leaving the population, our population, more susceptible to death during this COVID crisis. It’s the equivalent of us coming to work every day and having our managers blow cigarette smoke in our faces for eight hours a day.

But also, if money is mobility, then keeping 500,000 employees on the brink of ruin every month means that not only can we not move left or right, but we can never move up. I’m here today, to say that one way or another we are going to break these proverbial chains. I am a founding member of the Bay Area Amazonians.

We are here to organize my warehouse. We hope to be like the ILWU when we grow up. We call on all politicians who have been asleep at the wheel for the past thirty years to do their jobs, and start enforcing white collar crimes like anti-trust laws and safety violations as harshly as our government cracks down on fake $20 bills.

Thank you. Power to all people! 



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