Photo: Members of the Excluded Worker coalition from No Justice No Pride and HIPS speaking out for the needs of sex workers at the Don’t Exclude Me rally.
By Eliana Rondon, DC JWJ Organizer
Excluded workers consist of tens of thousands of DC residents—including those who are undocumented, sex workers, day laborers, and returning citizens. Excluded workers have all been locked out of unemployment benefits and other cash assistance. Despite our advocacy to include all individuals being locked out, Chairman Mendelson insists that the funds intended for all excluded workers to undocumented workers only. The DC Council must amend the Budget Support Act to include all excluded worker.
Undocumented excluded workers only account for part of the communities we are fighting for. The undocumented residents in DC includes many races. However, of the US-born excluded workers are overwhelmingly Black. When solutions for excluded workers only include undocumented workers, it excludes Black excluded workers from the funds. The Council continues to refer to the excluded workers’ funds as only intended for undocumented residents, despite the fact undocumented individuals are not the only communities excluded. Reducing the language from excluded worker to undocutoment worker disregards the needs of DC Black communities.
The language used by the council is anti- black and demonstrates systematic racism. Anti-Blackness means more than just racism against Black people. It’s a structure that demonstrates society’s inability to recognize the humanity of Blacks. Anti-Blackness voids Blackness of value, while systematically diminishing Black people and their problems.
Underneath this anti-Black racism is the covert structural and systemic racism, which systematically mandates the socioeconomic status of Blacks in America. The structure is upheld in place by anti-Black ideologies, policies, and institutions.This disregard is the result of race, class, and gender privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black institutions and policies. The excluded workers’ group was created to genuinely bring normally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision making in a way that shares access. We call on all elected officials and others who have aligned themselves with our movement to embrace the needs of all excluded workers and ensure funds are available to all our community members.
The DC Council can fix this on Tuesday. They can make the $9 million in funds available to all excluded workers in the Budget Support Act. We demand that they do so.