June 25, 2019; Common Dreams
Yesterday, some of us woke up to a social media newsfeed about the Boston-based Wayfair employee walkout over company sales to the US government for the abhorred children concentration camp on our border, the nonprofit Baptist Children’s Family Services Health and Human Services, in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
Independent news center Common Dreams’ Eoin Higgins appears to have broken the story. He writes, “Once the employees discovered their complicity in the border detention of children, 547 of them wrote a letter to the company’s executives on June 21 demanding that the company cease cooperating with the federal government.”
Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah, the son of immigrants, refused.
As the government tries to normalize barbaric behavior, those of us who stand up and refuse complicity are critical. Higgins writes,
Support for the workers was growing online as the news spread.
RAICES, the Texas-based immigration legal advocacy group, praised the retailer’s workers for taking a stand.
Journalist Sana Saleem pointed out that Wayfair’s justification for its cooperation with BCFS was flawed.
A boycott movement seems to be growing as well, with Democratic activist Lucy Flores one of the people on Twitter announcing she wouldn’t be buying from the retailer.
People know this is wrong, and in addition to action, the narrative is developing to reflect that. Earlier this week, Higgins wrote,
In a tweet reporting on the Texas concentration camp’s imminent opening, WFAA reporter Jason Whitley said the facility would “house more than 1,000 captured children.” That language drew anger from immigrant rights advocates like Melissa Mark-Viverito, the interim president of Latino Victory US, who urged observers and reporter to not “concede to the GOP’s attempt to control the language we use to describe this administration sponsored horror.”
While so far Shah is holding out, Quartz’s Lila MacLellan writes,
Dismissing its employees’ concerns would be out of character for Wayfair’s leadership. Shah, the CEO, is also chair of an eponymous foundation dedicated to child health and education. The Shah Foundation’s goal, according to its website, is to “support innovative, transformative work in education, healthcare and community.”
The Shahs contribute to The Boston Foundation’s Civil Leadership Fund, and TBF’s website features a conversation with the donor couple and their breakthrough work on big social problems. Niraj is on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
As our government and corporate and even nonprofit leaders keep missing the ball on leadership, we, the people, are increasingly the ones leading.
As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “This is what solidarity looks like.”
The majority of us want a very different world than the one our leaders are delivering. My activist friends tell me that people keep asking them what to do. Wayfair employees are showing the way: Be on the lookout for solidarity opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by. Take the risk. Grow into it. We know what the alternative brings.—Cyndi Suarez