The work done by Black people like me has long been treated as unworthy of a fair wage.
Racial income disparities mean we are paid less, including when we do the same jobs as white people. That’s well-known. What deserves more attention, though, is how these disparities are taking on new and alarming forms in the construction industry here in New York City.
It’s not enough to say Black Lives Matter, especially for those of us who are formerly incarcerated construction workers building a future for this city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next mayor and City Council must show with action, not simply words, how they will make Black lives better, and create more pathways to the middle class for Black New Yorkers who perform some of the most dangerous and exploitive jobs in the whole city.
Many thousands of Black New Yorkers who served time in prison are right now trying to re-enter the economy and make a positive contribution to the neighborhoods where we live and build. Nonunion construction is one of the few industries where we can find jobs after incarceration. We must maintain employment as a condition of parole or go back to prison.