Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The “Precious of Corrections”

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The above is a photo taken at Rikers island of Nadja Green.  Her photo had been snapped at work and then mailed to the New York Post.  She is now on modified duty and will face charges of of sleeping on the job and other security- and performance-related charges.  It is important to note that Green allegedly worked 96 hours of overtime in the month that the image was taken.

According to the Post:

A prison source described Green as "the Precious of Corrections," a reference to the movie about a teen from a dysfunctional family.

A source said Green had a difficult upbringing and is the mother of several children. The source said she worked 96 hours of overtime this month.

A union official said prison authorities should avoid a rush to judgment.

"Many correction officers are forced to work 70 to 80 hours of mandatory overtime," said Correction Officer Benevolent Association spokesman Michael Skelly.  (emphasis mine)

Obviously referring to her as “The Precious of Corrections” is an attempt to demean her.  I don’t know the circumstances behind this woman's personal life but if she has indeed had it hard, is that really a reason to shame her?  This world was not designed to give WOC a break and working class or poor WOC have an extremely difficult time. 

If she is indeed a single mother, the responsibility of raising several children on her own must be extremely difficult.  As the deficit rises, programs that were designed to act as a sort of social safety net are either increasingly underfunded or cancelled altogether.  The pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality does not take into consideration that some people don’t even have a boot.

Though at this time Ms.Green is being disciplined for falling asleep, there seems to be no indication that the state is assuming any responsibility for her actions.  Mr. Skelly stated that officers are forced to work 70 to 80 hours of mandatory overtime and if this is true, it can only be because of purposeful short staffing in an attempt to save money.  Just like many other corporations, the state is now forcing workers  to do the job of two people.  This saves them in benefits and pension. The bottom line is a situation like this is to save money and little consideration is given to what this kind of schedule does to the worker in question.

Technology was predicted to reduce the workload for humans and instead we are working more hours than ever before and taking home even less money.  This is particularly true if one is a member of a marginalized group.  Being forced to work the hours that she did, plus having a heavy responsibility at home, means that Ms.Green carried a heavy burden.   This is the kind of weight that has routinely been placed on the backs of WOC and when we fail to carry it to the satisfaction of the ruling classes we are punished.  This super human effort is rarely to never expected of rich White men of privilege. 

If we truly valued people over capitol, such situations would never occur.  Despite the interdependency of human social structure, we are taught to see ourselves as individuals thus allowing the ruling elite to deny our communal culpability in situations like this.  A single mother should not be forced to work those kind of hours to support her children.  In fact, no one should be forced to put their body through that kind of stress to save a few dollars.  Before we point the finger and blame Ms.Green, perhaps we should consider the purposeful short staffing and who gains when a poor WOC is forced to work more than her body can physically endure?  Ms. Green and her children certainly did not benefit.

H/T Rippa @ The Intersection of Madness and Reality