The Point

retail chains

Social injustice is a prevalent topic. It’s a touchy one as well. I’ve had some particularly say to me, “Why don’t people leave it in the past?” Well, here’s why it should not be forgotten. It’s because it still exists.

Now, will racism ever go away? No. However, if we could attack the source by UNDERSTANDING the source, we may be able to make it a little better for those who are suffering from it and/or are the cause of it.

People don’t know they are hurting someone.

I am from the south, Montgomery, AL in point of fact, and though I have not come across blatant racism, I’ve definitely experienced it indirectly as well as seen and heard about it. One example I’ve witnessed is through every retail store that I have worked at. You’re probably saying, “Huhhhh?” Well, the word ‘retail’ is short for ‘slavery’. Do you honestly think that when Abraham Lincoln “freed” the slaves in this country that the art of slavery totally went away? I certainly hope not. What happened was more secrecy and uniformity of the slaving business. Retail is the number one line of work that exists for the uneducated. In fact, it’s just about the only line of work for the uneducated that will bring in a steady income. Those working at a retail location are trapped by the system and not ever expected to escape. My coworkers always said, “I’m ready to go home,” but they can’t leave. Why aren’t they passionate about their work, I’ve often wondered. It’s because they are treated like incompetent dogs.

The chain-of-command in retail markets.

If you’ve noticed, there is a chain-of-command everywhere in this world, but for the blue collar job, there is a big difference in how ‘order’ is conducted. For instance, in a white collar job, the intelligence of the employee is taken into consideration. These jobs that are deemed white collar are typically those that require an education of some kind. On the other half of the fence, blue collar (retail) employees are slaves. They are not treated as if they have a bit of sense.

Why is that?

It’s because they are chained just like slaves who were deliberately held in bondage since the beginning of time.

In my first book, “Secrets of Their Shadowed Hearts”, Barry makes two interesting comments to Kaylin as they are washing the dishes in the kitchen, something she attempted to protect him from doing–wash the dishes. The first thing he said to her was, “Do you think that I am blind, that I do not see what goes on around me? I see everything, but survival is–a mean monster. A person must survive in order to live even if the effort sponsors degradation.”

He was telling her that, as the owner of that plantation a.k.a the boss of that blue collar job, he sees everything, the unfairness, the way the employees are treated, the minimal pay, the favoritism, the punishments, and the lies. He sees it all, but due to the design of those who are of the ‘smart or privileged sort’, there can be no adjustments to this injustice. Retail stores religiously practice this. The store owner for example, who may or may not have a lick of education in his blue collar job, is allowed to exercise all of the above; his Managers a.k.a ‘overseers’ just the same.

The third key is the ‘trustee’. On plantations, there were some who were allowed to advance in the ranks if you will. For their promised cooperation with the code of conduct, they were ‘promoted’ from the field slave such as the food and preparation clerk, the cashier, the bagger as just a few examples, to a higher standing. In a white collar job, a promotion is beneficial financially; although, one’s intelligence is already acknowledged. Conversely, in a blue collar job (retail/slavery), this just means that you are now entitled to hold an invisible whip. You also must not only be willing to crack it when you see misbehavior, but also you must be willing to snitch to the Manager a.k.a. Overseer. If the trustee should seek harsher results, he/she may then go to the Store Manager a.k.a Plantation Owner.

We see a bold example of this in this excerpt from “Secrets of Their Shadowed Souls” in which the situation was Thomas failing to break up a fight. He was attacked by his own dogs which almost cost him his right arm, but SOMEHOW he had to place the blame for the skirmish onto someone else to save his face. He did his digging and in turn decided to blame the trustee that was patrolling the area. When the man was taken to the Barry’s office a.k.a. the “Manager’s office”, both he and Thomas decided to gang up on the man through tag teaming.

The excerpt reads as follows:

      The door budged and Thomas eased slowly and carefully inside while eyeing me under an expression of guilt. This talk with me was important on his list of things to do, more important than any other bullshit. He needed to clear the air between us and I’d give him a chance. This conversation, I can say, was important to me as well.
      “Stay there,” Thomas told Jeremiah after glancing over his shoulder to view him. Thereafter, he came a inching towards my desk reverently, unpretentiously, ready to say, “You wanted to see me, Barry?”
      This opening to our discussion was mere standard procedure for he knew already why he was here.
      I cupped my hands and leaned forward. “I want you to tell me what you found out about the incident that went on yesterday, but before that, I require that you know something first. I don’t want you to think that I didn’t care about what happened to you earlier or that I had something else more important to do.”
      I did. As sad as it might seem to say, I stand by Thomas asking for my permission to be the manager, my head overseer, which meant that he should be able to deal with these problems while seeking for me to intervene as a last resort.
      “Why did the fight break out?” I asked to get to the point.
      Thomas sat a hand on his waist, the one on his good arm. “Because I didn’t see everything from talkin’ to Colt in the shack, from what I gathered from Jeremiah outside and a few others, four niggers were involved. According to Alice, Mae stopped what she was doin’ and run over to Mary. When she did that, Mary’s husband Henry jumped in to break ‘em up. That’s when Joseph rushed in to get Henry off of Mae and then it got to be just the two men fighting.”
      “And when did you get there?”
      He inhaled. “I came from the shack with Buford and Beast–”
      “Why did you use them in the first place,” I interrupted, my brows lowered, “when you told me you hadn’t finished taming them yet?”
      “I acted out of impulse,” Thomas answered. “All I knew was when shit like this happens we’re supposed to get it under control fast. That’s all I wished to do. I wasn’t thinkin’.”
      “It’s unlike you to make a mistake,” I said sarcastically. Next after that, I blinked at my desk then blinked at him and then the door. “Is Jeremiah out there? Tell him to come in.”
      Thomas nodded and turned around to retrieve him.
      Jeremiah Bucket from the Bucket farm was one of three of my trustees whom I had promoted only a week ago, so he was rather green. I knew it, but his negligence caused a disaster out in the fields and also almost cost my brother his arm. This incident proved that Jeremiah had bad eyes or had become lazy once put into a higher position. Today, I would converse with him to let him see that the sort of matter on this level was not okay.
      Jeremiah, one of the halfway decent looking slaves I had, was twenty years of age. His buff body, trimmed hair and beard were mighty popular amongst my gals, his smooth voice too. I hoped that Mae and Mary weren’t fighting over him; if they were then what a tragedy for all three.
The boy approached my desk trembling. Behind him, Thomas pushed the door to and stood near it with a hand on his waist from his good arm.
      For effect, I frowned, had my elbows on the tabletop and my mouth pushing against my fingers. “Jeremiah,” I said in due course. “Son, tell me what happened with those workers under your watch yesterday.”
      Keeping his eyes on the floor, the boy parted his lips to respond. “I saw Mae get at Mary, suh. They got to fightin’ an’ den dey men got in it.”
      “Why were they fighting?”
      It was a simple question; however, Jeremiah had a problem answering it. He kept quiet which was a dumb move in the presence of two white men.
      I raised my pitch. “Son, I’m not going to keep asking you. Now you tell me what this was about, because you know what? They’re in some shit and you’ll be with them if you don’t tell me what started it.”
      Jeremiah burst out quickly. “Mae and Mary was sleepin’ wid ‘em.”
      “Those niggers were sleeping with whom?”
      Thomas was also intrigued.
      Jeremiah continued. “They wuz meetin’ with overseer Marcus, suh.”
      “You’re full of shit!” Thomas snapped. “Marcus never told me about any nigger bitch he was bangin’. Tell the fucking truth nigger right now.”
      I personally didn’t think Thomas’ coercion was correct. Leave it to my brother to consider everybody a liar if he was the last to know. I believed Jeremiah, on the other hand, and I said those words before saying this.
      “So Marcus was fucking two bitches,” I said, “and Mae fought because she found out about Mary getting action from him too. That makes sense to me, but what I’m upset with you about is allowing it get this far without letting Thomas or I know about whom all was doing what. As the trustee, you were to report suspicious situations to us in confidence, but I can see why you didn’t say anything. It’s because an overseer was involved. In the future, boy, you say something to save your ass. As an extension of my right arm, you tell someone if you see those niggers talking or standing around. They are not to be plotting behind our backs. I didn’t promote you to hold your hand. I promoted you because I trusted you to keep order. If you can’t handle it, I’ll put you back down as a field nigger and let Rufus get the position. So take this as a warning. Keep a better eye out or it’ll be your ass I get if it happens again. Understand?”
      Jeremiah was happy to have dodged that bullet. “Yes suh,” he bowed. “I’m gon do better. Thank you, suh.”
      For the point of securing his trust, I told him to grab himself an apple from the fruit basket beside the door while he took his leave and as always, based on my prediction, Thomas was pissed to hell off. What was new?

You can see that the two men in charge begin with a formal conversation of business – because it’s overall about keeping the business going. Throughout their entire conversation, the brothers stick together, ganging up on the poor man too in the process even while they are at odds; a classic managerial move. Barry closed the interrogation by striking fear in the trustee’s heart. In addition to that, he praised the trustee, gave him a piece of fruit to secure his continued obedience, when he should have been punished (written up); a classic managerial move number two.

The second thing Barry said to Kaylin in the kitchen was, “That is the world we live in. Someone must be made to suffer.”

What exactly did he mean by this?

He meant that this is a dog-eat-dog world in which only the strong and selfish survived. During his time, the strong and selfish were Caucasian and the eaten dogs were Native Americans, slaves, and abolitionists.

In this excerpt from “Secrets of Their Shadowed Souls”, he talks more about this concept. It reads:

      Jeffrey and Kaylin came down the steps of the porch and stood near us to make a complete circle consisting of five members. This was a memorable moment to me because I was situated among people who truly knew how the world functioned which was beneath lopsided ideals denoting inequality for all men no matter their race. These people, dissimilar to most, were not ignorant of society’s imbalance that catered to the successful; its survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog, crabs in a barrel concept. They knew that the world sought to keep us and others who weren’t so fortunate to know the truth in humble beginnings, in slavery seeing what we could attain, but forever while we drew breath away from it. This is why this entourage is hollowed beings with souls exposed. It is because they are unsure of what to believe anymore, unsure of which ideal is correct. As much as they prefer to not be torn in order to trust that virtue exists, they’ve been scarred unbearably in some way. I can sense that all four of them believe they have no purpose except retribution against those who trampled their essence, their friendly feelings, deeming them as mere specks of flesh upon the planet, a waste of air that the cooperative folks who have stilled their tongues could be using. As former men of service, they’ve branched out to go rogue purposefully to see the deception underlying the system, the root of slavery altogether. What they found was traumatic, something that was called ‘nature’, a survival game in which only the selfish survived.

This is the sad but certain truth. Barry’s entourage was the underdogs, the weaklings for wanting real justice. They were the ones who were ‘uncooperative’ and hence are suffering from the struggle; whereas if they were among the ‘cooperative’ folks, they would be facing lesser hardships. At this point, they are not denying that this country never said that she was fair. They merely question her ideals, what she means to be in pretense only. These people left their services in order to know the truth. Now that they’ve gotten their answers, they aim to move away from subjugation as much as possible, because what they found was a cold, heartless deception that is underlying the system, slavery, the very thing this country was built on what and what it currently rides.

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12 responses to “The Point

  1. So Kim, I wonder about your angle…Your book is designed to represent the era of slavery, yet you target retail, as the modern day slavery. Why is that? I guess I’m asking…Why does retail have to be your angle? As opposed to, for example… the government and the system that appears to provide assistance, yet it handicaps our people placing us under a a bondage that is far worse than that which is physical…mental bondage…

    • The Best of Me, I am making a correlation, using retail as merely a ‘personal’ example, one that I can truly explain to the fullest. That representation was to show you an example of how slavery dwindled in prominence, but still exist, and we can SEE that big time in retail markets. In documented slavery days, we saw chains of command. In the series, I did not shy away from letting the reader experience those chains of command. For instance, throughout the entire series, Barry’s brother Thomas is regarded as the ‘Manager’. His job held to what any manager would do today, be the one regulating while barking orders, while his Assistant/Overseer would be the enforcer. That was pure plantation life. It was an overall systematic effort that continues.

      As you’ve noticed in part 1, government life was tackled as well–surely not left out. Barry Pierce is a direct ancestor to Franklin Pierce, a former president of the US. Franklin Pierce was known as ‘doughboy’. He wasn’t necessarily against slavery either. With that being the case, we are then to wonder what would have happened if “new to goodness” Barry had successfully taken the seat of Governor or if his “bad to the bone” brother Thomas had taken the seat of Governor. What would have become of the history of this nation? The physical and mental bondage you mentioned may or may not have existed.

  2. Not sure that I would agree with your premise. Most of my working life I was in management. Sure, the employees under me might have looked at themselves as be subservient to management–as though they were “slaves”, however I too was “enslaved” if I wanted to think of it that way. I put in longer hours, dealt with more hassles, and shouldered more responsibilities for one weekly salary. If the employees under me were in a busy time where they could make overtime there was a potential that they could be making more than I did. Upper management expected results from me and my employees and I often felt “enslaved” to my job. But it was my choice. I could complain when I wanted to and yet I avoided doing it so as not to make too many waves. I could have left to look for another job if I’d wanted to. Instead I stayed until our location was shut down mostly due to the absurd California laws that made operating a business unprofitable.
    The owners of the company were also enslaved by their business. They put in long hours as well and when business was bad they shouldered the financial loss while their employees got paid.
    I think anyone who has responsibility is a slave to whatever that might be–our jobs, our families, our ambitions. Sure it’s nothing like actual slavery which is abhorrent, but if you are making retail synonymous with slavery then might as well include anything that holds us down in some way. I think it’s really a matter of attitude.
    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    • Arlee, great, great comment and correlation to the feelings we have and the things we notice as we are on the job! Yes! More than just retail can enslave us. Sure family, friends, jobs, and our ambitions certainly can too. As far as my premise though, STRICTLY the comparison to a laborious environment was likened to that of the retail market since similar behaviorism, job duties, and chains-of-commands were mostly mentioned within.

      Ever heard of the saying “Slaves to society?” Well, that’s what you and I are as well as every working person worldwide until we manage to get beyond the glass ceiling which is often known as the ‘glass ceiling effect’. This phrase means that in life, no matter what a person is employed to do, there is an invisible glass ceiling in which a person can look above their heads and see invisibly people walking over top. Why are these people walking? And why are they above our heads? These people represent the elite. The elite can come in any shape or form, from the small businesses on the corner or the franchises or the super conglomerates. I talked about the glass ceiling effect a little bit in Secrets of the Shadowed Souls, because Barry is a thinker now and EVERYTHING is starting to come together in his mind. Much more of this excerpt is within the post.

      Excerpt:

      ^They knew that the world sought to keep us and others who weren’t so fortunate to know the truth in humble beginnings, in slavery seeing what we could attain, but forever while we drew breath away from it.^

      We’ve always suspected that the rich and famous are no longer one of us. They often sing about it and talk in the news and shows about how they only hang around the ‘successful’, other wealthy folks which make up a small percentage of our society per each country. And they don’t consider us one of them because they don’t work within forced labor and we do in order to survive. This notion goes for superiors on a job as well. Superiors are not even allowed to congregate socially on a private level with their subordinates. That’s because they have enhanced their standing within the company and you, a former manager, could agree.

      Barry, a successful Planter, decided to intermingle with his new slave Kaylin, granting her passage on top of the glass ceiling, and it is interesting to see what the consequence of his doing that was, the now ‘domino effect’.

  3. I’m not really sure how I feel about your article. According to the guidance counselor in high school I am high average inteligence. I have a college education. I have been “blue collar” all my life. I grew up in the restaurant business. My grandmother was head chef at the country club and had her own restaurant. I had one career as an autmobile mechanic. When my body was no longer able to do that I worked in retail for another career.
    Someone once said that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. I could have had a “white collar” career, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I have spent my entire life doing what I wanted to do, not what other people thought I should do. Most people can’t say that, even “white collars”.
    I have never been a “slave”.

    • I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, Bill, and I commend you for going through the effort of completing school, for being in the tedious lifestyle of the restaurant business, and working as a mechanic. That is a tough one. I too have a degree in education and I am soon to be done with my master’s; however, the jobs that qualify you and me due to our degrees are ‘white collar’ righteously where we are to utilize our official sheet of paper, our diploma. Those jobs that do not require that diploma in order to join the team are referred to as ‘blue collar’. Can we agree on that?

      Now, on plantations, educated slaves were unheard of, but they existed however few in number. This still continues because if you can agree that slavery never fully disappeared when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, then you can also agree that there are a wide range of people who lack the “piece of paper” that quote-on-quote “certifies their intelligence”. It’s true, you, myself, and many others who have worked and are currently working on these ‘blue collar’ jobs have gone to school. We are trainable. We have had the experience of continued education. It’s not to say that we know EVERYTHING. It’s merely to say that our knowledge in certain subject matters is enhanced.

      That brings up a good example that I will snatch directly from Secrets of Their Shadowed Souls, and I want you to see if you can get a better understanding by reading how Barry pointed out the differences between book sense and street sense.

      Excerpt:

      ^When we were younglings and even into his adulthood, Thomas was not educated and took pride in that needless to say. He preferred life’s lessons as opposed to what could be taught in books. There were a few moments that I felt threatened by his street sense, but not too many. I was fairly confident and balanced with two skills, both book and street sense, yet he was my rival I must admit. He was the person I trained who had mastered his expertise, because it was all he had. To survive, he didn’t need to bank on wisdom. His wisdom was what he took the most interest in, discretion. Now this was intimidating; not his approach, not his foul language, but his learned practicality. People like me had to be cautious of people like him. Even though their competency may not seem notable, they are a force to be reckoned with. I believe one should never judge a person by just seeing them. That person would be foolish to do so.^

      Street sense, to Barry the plantation owner, was the duties involved in physical labor, and of course book sense was knowledge. He means to say that just because a person did not continue their education does not constitute them as ignorant, because they can outdo you in their skill WHATEVER it is; however, for some reason, society—customers you often encounter, superiors you often take orders from—inhibit you and force you to build a theme park from the ground up before they acknowledge your intellect.

      This is why:

      It’s not a matter of what we have always wanted to do in life. It’s not a matter of what we currently know more than others. To the individuals who monitor the blue collar jobs, our intelligence outside of the box is not ever taken into consideration. Why is that? It’s because blue collar means ‘physical’ whereas conversely white collar means ‘knowledge’. Note that anyone within a supervisory position in a franchise or privately owned business—(this happens in blue collar jobs as well)—has excelled to a white collar position just because of what he knows that has been PROVEN.

      Ultimately it is very difficult to prove what we know in a place where labor is involved such as the retail markets. Those places tend to be labor driven which are very similar to plantations. Hence, since we have been hired for our vigor and NOT what we know, we are glorified slaves.

  4. “Ultimately it is very difficult to prove what we know in a place where labor is involved such as the retail markets. Those places tend to be labor driven which are very similar to plantations. Hence, since we have been hired for our vigor and NOT what we know, we are glorified slaves.”
    In my retail career I worked in Sporting Goods for a LARGE national retail chain. It was my knowledge that made “my” sporting goods department the best in a LARGE retail market. I had many steady customers that came to me for my expertise. They would drive past other stores to come to me. I was just an hourly “slave”, to use your term. I also trained many in management.
    A smart retailer hires sales people for their knowledge. A retailer that wants to succeed values his peoples knowledge in their respective areas.
    A short time ago someone pointed out that just because you have the wall paper doesn’t mean you know anything. All my wall paper and ten dollars would get me a good cup of cofee most anywhere. My wall paper has spent that last thirty odd years in a box in storage. That’s what it is ultimately good for.

    • Slaves to society does not mean that we are any less of a human being. It only means that we are also regarded for our trade which centers around labor most times and not we know that goes above and beyond our job class. This type of acknowledgment and behavior flourished on plantations and is depicted greatly within the series. For example, one of the main characters Kaylin was not a slave at first when Barry found her. She ultimately made her way to his home to BECOME one. So as you can see, her way of life outside of work was quite different. After Barry as a plantation owner tried to force his way of doing onto her, he began to see things differently, but not at first. Initially all he wanted from her was her labor, what she was bought to do for him. It wasn’t until he spent days with her that he learned she was more capable than just picking up a tool and working. She was smart! And he began to appreciate what she knew.

      From my own personal accounts, I was not so fortunate to have my intelligence recognized within any of the retail jobs that I have possessed, however, I continued to do them well. Customers and my bosses alike have often turned up their noses, if you will, especially when they found out that I am a thinker. To them, the only thing that I was hired to do was toil. I’ve even had managers become hostile in defense of their own intelligence which they meant to have competed against mine. And due to all of the competition, only a select few will ascend to a form of supervisory position. No matter what I knew, I was deemed not “smarter” than the store manager/plantation owner who 75% of the time does not have continued education.

  5. writer
    Racism is demonstrably not a thing of the past. It is persistent and pervasive, and infects far too many ignorant, or downright hateful individuals. In Europe, where I live, the growth of the far right should be seen as a prescient warning that this has not gone away, and is a latent evil simmering not far beneath the surface psyche of people who would not dream of calling themselves, and do not think themselves, racist. Check out the comments sections of online newspapers, and social media sites, to see that there is plenty to be afraid of. God forbid that these people should acquire real power.

    • It’s not in the past and if we could tackle the source (a post I plan to discuss in the near future) we may be able to prevent it from becoming such a plague. It will never go away entirely. Sure many will like to hang on to their traditions of teaching hatred to their children and family members and remain a part of it–Barry’s brother Thomas being one of those individuals. Even with that, we may be able to cause those traditions to just simmer as opposed to being at a full blaze.

      That is the premise of this series, to show ‘fictitiously’ the damages of hatred in one’s personal and love life. It is meant to also provide antidotes for this prescribed medicine, bigotry, and ways to have a natural cure so that other generations will not be affected.

  6. Kim, you’ve given your readers a lot to think about and I applaud your efforts. I wonder, though, if racism should be the theme? Perhaps social injustice would be a better word when discussing the haves and have-nots in the world of retail occupations. Slavery and racism are not synonomous, although they are equally wicked. Slavery, when used meaning wage/slaves is not necessarily racist.. Racism, which is prejudice against a particular race of people, is quite different. While it may be true that both have much in common, the causes and effects are quite different.

    • Thank you! Thank you, Mick! I really like that idea that you pointed out, about it perhaps going in the direction of social injustice as opposed to racism. That particular topic all together is very sensitive and it might cause people to be more welcoming on top of how welcome they are already being if it is titled something a little less sensitive. We can agree there are social injustices everywhere, particularly in the south which is the premise of my work. I live in the south of the United States and there is social injustice all around. People, I think, need direction, and if we can give that to them, it might make for a better place to live and grow.

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