Ai-jen Poo on building movements to challenge inequality

To Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations, the experience of caregivers in the US underscores inequality today. The solution? A social movement.


AI-JEN POO: If you look closely, all across the country there are the seeds of how everyday people and movements are transforming inequality. Inequality is one of the most defining issues of our time. But it’s not our future.

[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Ai-Jen Poo, co-director, Caring Across Generations. An Asian woman with dark hair tucked behind her ears, wearing a royal-blue sweater.]

These are pictures of me with my grandmother in Taiwan. I really was her shadow. I followed her around everywhere. This is my grandmother playing mah-jongg. She will, on occasion, let me win. This is Mrs. Sun and my grandmother. Today my grandmother is 89 and Mrs. Sun takes care of her. I really do see the experience of caregivers in this country as emblematic of inequality today. The average wages of someone like Mrs. Sun in this country is $13,000 per year. Compounding that reality of working incredibly hard and still living in poverty is the fact that a tremendous number of our caregivers are immigrants, undocumented immigrants, trapped in the shadows without basic labor protections. And that is what we have to transform.

[Cheered on by spectators, women of different ages and ethnicities, waving American flags and holding rosaries, march to protest unfair deportation practices.]

The reason why I believe we can transform inequality is because I’ve seen the power and the magic of what happens when people come together and decide to build a movement together. We actually have as a country common dreams, to have access to opportunity, to take care of our families, to learn, to love. Social movements allow us to have a collective expression of those dreams.

[Inequality Is Logo. Join the conversation. #InequalityIs.]

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