I saw the meme last night before bed. I "wow" reacted and went to sleep. I woke up hoping it wasn't true, but saw it was and sat with the information: Bill Miller's former leader gives as much money is federally possible to a president who keeps babies in cages and incites racist violence as seen this past weekend in El Paso. Disappointed, but not surprised, is a common feeling for me lately.
A few days ago before this meme broke many San Antonio hearts, I tweeted wondering why Bill Miller's doesn't have a rewards program. The tweet resonated with several people. To say I'm a frequent customer is an understatement, and I'm sure it's true for many San Antonian's. I've eaten something at Bill Miller's at least once a week for most of my life, and that's really not an exaggeration. We regularly eat tacos from Bill Miller's at work. Two days ago I happily brought home a 10-piece box of chicken (including jalapeños, of course) with a big bucket of sweet tea. When I took out the bread loaf I reminisced to my partner how my mom would stop at Bill Miller's for a loaf of bread so we could feed the ducks and mean geese at Woodlawn. It's probably really silly to many, but many of us understand supporting this administration in any way is inexcusable, and it's weird battling our morals versus comfort food.*
As the meme goes viral, lots of San Antonians are coming to terms with this easily accessible, public information. (I repeat, donor lists are readily accessible public information.) Lots of folks have valid questions and most boil down to: Why does this matter? Is it really that serious?
Boycotts and Strikes
According to Brittanica.com, a boycott is defined as a "collective and organized ostracism applied in labour, economic, political, or social relations to protest practices that are regarded as unfair." (Read more about boycotts here.)
Most people think we vote once every few years. We vote every two for City Council. We vote every four for President.
We truly vote every single day with our money. Every time you spend a cent you profess this business/service is worthy of my money.
Famous boycotts and strikes include the Montgomery Bus Boycott and San Antonio's own Pecan Sheller's Strike for workers' rights. Boycotts work when many, many people agree together to demand justice. In the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Black folks recognized segregated seating in public transportation is wrong and dehumanizing. They also knew they made up most of the riders. The boycott lasted 381 days before the US Supreme Court upheld the federal court decision: racially segregated seating on buses violates the 14th Amendment. (The 14th Amendment was adopted following the Civil War and guarantees all citizens - regardless of race - equal rights and equal protection under the law.)
Emma Tenayuca led thousands of pecan shellers to walk out of their work and demand just treatment as workers. Many were poor, Mexican women living in the west side like my great-grandmother. Pecan processing was the biggest industry in San Antonio in the 1930s, yet workers were paid poverty wages averaging $2 a week. They worked in abysmal conditions with hardly any ventilation. If you grew up cracking pecans, you know the shells often give off a fine dust and often dirt. This dust was regularly inhaled by the workers and many got sick. Together, the shellers walked out and demanded more. They eventually went into arbitration with their employers, and the strike is largely considered a success for what it was able to achieve. The federal government soon after instated the federal minimum wage of 25 cents/hour and the pecan industry largely went mechanical.
Spending With Your Conscience
If I earn $15 an hour, and I paid for a $7.50 meal at lunch, I essentially spent 30 minutes of my day to purchase food at one particular restaurant. If the owner of the restaurant donates part of the profits to put an atrocious person (and all of their atrocious cabinet) in power, why should my money, and my time, be pipelined this way?
For the most part I am of the personal belief that what people do with their money is their business. However, I also believe people should recognize our power of voting every day with our dollars. I hope our community is aware of how business and politics are inextricably linked, and our roles in giving each of these organizations power. Vote with your dollars every day, and vote for candidates who aren't taking money from businesses or industries doing more harm than good.
*I'm not going to debate anyone over whether Bill Miller's is "good" or not.
Keep up with my musings about political chismé, life, my relationship, food, San Anto history, my dog, and everything in between.