At the last MAsT meeting, I was asked by someone what my slave did for a living? I said she works from home. Now I’m not sure if it is that people don’t listen or that it’s a man thing, but he replied it must be nice for slaves to stay home 1950 style?
Humm, was all I could reply and then I excused myself.
Here’s the thing, I don’t know about 1950 style, I knew what he meant, but I’m a woman of color and all of the women in my family worked. My mom and aunts had it better than my grandmother and great-grandmother. But even they worked.
My Great Grand owned a farm and from her I learned about farming, apple and peach trees, beans, potatoes, strawberries. chickens for eggs and a cow. Which we milked. Us children picked all of this and learned how to pickle, and can. My Great Gran made her own bread and other baked goods which she sold. We even churned butter, none of this is as glamorous as it looks on TV. She also was a mean seamstress, which was passed on to my Grandmother.
Speaking of which.
My Grandmother would take us kids most Fridays (and by us kids I mean the “girls”) down to 34th street, we would walk through Macy’s and she would look at every dress in that place. (which might be why I have such an aversion to the place).
When she was finished we would go to El Barrio to the material stores, where every woman that worked there knew her. After, we would buy fresh fish and meats from the different vendors and head home.While we seasoned the meat and put things away my Grand would start cutting brown paper into a pattern. For the rest of the weekend, while we were there she would be in her room cutting and sewing. By Monday, she would have the dresses we saw in the window or in the store.
Her living room was where she entertained and wore he new digs, it was also her showroom. Red crushed velvet chairs with gold backing, plush pillows on the couch, and mirrors on the walls. A beautiful chandelier hung from the ceiling (growing up I hated that thing. each crystal had to come off and be cleaned) There were times women were there getting fitted and trying on their new dress that my Grand made for them. As I grew up I learned that my Gran wanted to be an interior designer, but couldn’t, I also found out that my Great Gran wanted to be a fashion designer, but couldn’t. Us children were encouraged to continue to be excellent students, keep our heads in books and learn all we could.
It may appear from this master’s point of view life for women, were roses and wine in the 1950’s and maybe it was for some. Wax on poetically about it. But for the women in my family (and I suspect other women of color) that were born before the greatest generation became the greatest generation it was always about finding a way to live their dream. My mom and aunts had it better than their grandmother and mother, and although I am a child born in the 1960’s I had it better than they did. But “better” is relative. My girl, my slave who works from home does just that. Work. Any master who thinks that keeping and making a home for them is easy and keeping a clean home is easy is an idiot. Does he think that it’s magic that food appears in that magical box called the frig in the kitchen?
I guess out of sight out of mind applies for this master. For me, I know the work that my slave does in our home. and that doesn’t include the times I call up and request something.
So, here’s the thing. It may “appear” that we have a 1950’s dynamic, but I am well aware of the work that goes into that.
She’s a full-time student and has already cleaned the house, done laundry, rode the bus to pick up her medicine, shopped for food and started cooking. I’ll call up in the middle of the day and say. “let’s have sandwiches for dinner.” As I approach the door I’ll smell the stew chicken she had started to prepare earlier in the day, the house smells good. But you know what we are having sandwiches, and in the morning she’ll hand me my lunch. Stew chicken and rice. 🙂
It ain’t easy working from home.
I know why this master has this view, I invite you to do a google image search on black working women in the 1950’s.