Ya Basta! “Enough is Enough” is the phrase I kept hearing. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, but it was the first time I felt it.
Hearing Leticia, a janitorial worker, share her story of being raped by her supervisor was powerful and emotional. Her daughter stood by her side in tears, but supporting her mother as Leticia found the strength to finish her story. Leticia is only one of many stories that we hear from women who experience sexual violence in the work place. These women are working to bring food to the table, women who leave late at night and return home in the early morning tired and with no time to rest; these are the women who so often are forgotten about, mistreated, and violated by supervisors who know how bad they need this job. These women luchan (fight) to make ends meet.
IMG_6609These real life stories reminded me of the many privileges that I have. Many of us work in nice buildings and very rarely do we think about those that come after hours to clean. I heard Sandra, CALCASA’s Executive Director stand before all those present that night and call us to action: “We have to bring those that are most marginalized out of the shadows. It is our responsibility.” It is statements and actions like those that create and define a movement. After watching and hearing the stories of so many woman janitors, I will never be able to see a building and not think about what happens when the lights turn off and the night shift begins.
I’m going to act and experience what it’s like to work on the night shift. And I am committed to continuing to shine a light on the reality of these women’s lives. I’m nervous about what to expect, but I also realize that this is only a glimpse of what janitorial workers live everyday as they work the night shift. In the great words of Dolores Huerta ,“the great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today.” By taking action I can better understand the isolation of their work, become a better advocate for workers, and support these workers in demanding a healthy and safe work place.
It is my hope that we live these words and come together and support janitorial workers as they fight for a better work environment free from sexual violence. Ya Basta!