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Employer and Employee vs. Master and Slave – When Is The Line Crossed?

06 Feb

I was watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta last night and there is some controversy over Kim Zolciak’s relationship with her “personal assistant” Sweetie.  Kim is white and Sweetie is black so it makes the whole story a little more controversial.

Kim tends to holler for Sweetie every time she needs something.  If Kim is getting sick of doing anything or needs anything thing done, you will hear her yell “Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” from under her covers in her bedroom until Sweetie comes to her majesty’s assistance.

Now according to Sweetie, Kim is paying her to do be her “personal assistant”.  According to the other housewives, they are embarrassed by the relationship between Kim and Sweetie, because as black women they are not comfortable with the way Sweetie is being treated.

Here is a clip of a fight that ensued over the controversy:

Kim and Nene Fight on Tour Bus

This topic is something I have very strong opinions about and not everyone agrees with my opinions.

I feel that the line is crossed the minute that the employer is intentionally disrespectful to their employee.   The reason I feel this way is because everyone knows, especially our bosses, that employees need their job…and to feel comfortable enough to intentionally disrespect someone you pay money to sends a message (in my opinion) saying …. “I pay you to take my shit and if you want to keep your job, shut up and deal with it”.

I feel this way because I have had personal experiences that have enlightened me to the fact that if you allow your employers to treat you badly – they will – and it will only get worse.

I had a boss once that literally abused everyone around him – including his wife.  Of course, when I first started working there, he didn’t lay it on me as thick as the other employees, but I couldn’t help wonder why in the world they just sat there and took that on a daily basis.  Slowly but surely, he started doing it to me.

At first, I disregarded it because 1) maybe if I ignored it, it would go away and 2) I needed the paycheck.  After a few months, it progressively got worse until one day after refusing to follow his petty instructions on how to “correctly” enter bank statements into Quickbooks, he ended up calling me stupid because I didn’t want to do it his way.  That was that.  I didn’t care about the money anymore and I got up and walked out on him – with no notice.  His wife called me later that day to apologize for him and asked me to come back.   Since I was  a very honest, intelligent and hard working employee – and I knew my value – I told her that I was not going to come back unless her husband called me himself and apologized and would agree to NEVER treat me that way again.  Sure enough, a few minutes later, he called apologized and never treated me that way again.

Now I realize that a slave is called a slave because they were not paid at all and the treatment of slaves was beyond disrespect, it was downright abuse…however, in America, no one is a slave any longer.  Slavery has been outlawed and standing up for the rights of all human beings equally is considered the American way.  So while it may seem that I am making a weak comparison, I am actually trying to emphasize that though we think we are all free and that slavery has been abolished – I still think there are remnants of it left.

Furthermore, up to about 60 years ago we were able to justify slavery by limiting the natural human desire to enslave people to a minority group of people that were not strong enough (as of yet) to fight for their rights.

Since that time, African Americans have come leaps and bounds – despite obvious disadvantages – and are clearly not going to be mistreated any longer……But, our natural instinct to enslave people (definition – to cause someone to lose their freedom of choice of action) still remains.

So instead of focusing on one vulnerable group, we have collectively accepted this notion that if we earn the right (make a lot of money) to restrict someone’s freedom to choose by paying them to do whatever we tell them to, we can still justify disrespect and enslavement.

In other words, we have earned the right to treat people anyway that we want to if we can pay to do it.  Money affords us (or our bosses) the right to mistreat others.

So, instead of not getting paid and being mistreated and abused by others – which we all agree is considered slavery, we all have collectively agreed that if we get paid to get abused – then that is not considered slavery anymore.

And here is the clincher……the less money a person is paid, the more abused and disrespected he becomes.

For those of you out there that have employees and treat them all with dignity and respect – G-d bless you.

But for those of you don’t try and make it your business to treat your cleaning lady with the same respect as you would treat a perspective client…I ask you….

Employer and Employee vs. Master and Slave – When is the Line Crossed?

Other posts you might like:

How Good This Must Have Felt

To Imitate or Initiate – That is the Question

Inequality is not a Racial Issue – It is a Human Issue

Paycheck or Self Respect – I’ll Take Self Respect

What is our Purpose?

Sadness is Necessary Sometimes

Why is Life Unfair?

Life is full of controversy so here is a thought to live by:
Why is life unfair?
Because there’s never going to be a system that is fair to everyone.
Shannon Miller
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