Most Americans today know that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, but few know why he was there. King went to Memphis to support African American garbage workers, who were on strike to protest unsafe conditions, abusive white supervisors, and low wages -- and to gain recognition for their union. Their picket signs relayed a simple but profound message: "I Am A Man."
For most of my youngest years, my mom cleaned wealthy people's homes and offices so they didn't have to -- so they could focus on their own families and their own careers. Intelligent and talented women of color, like my mother, make up nearly one third of the nation's workforce, but when compared to white women, they are twice as likely to be employed in lower-wage sectors.
The older I become, the more I have thought about Che Che and her life outside of me - her now-adult daughter Hazel back in Clark and their large, affectionate family I'd sporadically meet over pixelated Skype sessions. Not unlike my mother, as I came to learn more of her story, I realized there was some contentment to be found.
While I consider my former helper to be one of the most important figures in my life, I won't pretend that our relationship hasn't affected the broader family dynamic. A few years ago, for example, Che Che told me that our current helper, whom my sister and I call Che Che Miriam, didn't like her. "What makes you think that?" I said uncomfortably.