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Time’s Up: Activists Join Actresses on Golden Globes Red Carpet to Call for Gender and Racial Justice

We speak with Rosa Clemente and Saru Jayaraman.

At Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood, actors embraced the #MeToo movement and called for gender and racial justice in the post-Harvey Weinstein era. Eight actresses brought social justice activists with them: Michelle Williams brought #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke; Meryl Streep walked the red carpet with Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Shailene Woodley was accompanied by Suquamish Tribe member Calina Lawrence; Emma Stone brought tennis champ and LGBT advocate Billie Jean King; Susan Sarandon brought Puerto Rican media justice and former Green Party vice-presidential nominee Rosa Clemente; and Amy Poehler’s guest was Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. For more, we speak with Rosa Clemente and Saru Jayaraman.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

“Time’s Up!” That was the message at last night’s Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood, where the actors embraced the #MeToo movement and called for gender and racial justice in the post-Harvey Weinstein era. Eight actresses brought social justice activists with them: Michelle Williams brought #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke; Meryl Streep walked the red carpet with Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Shailene Woodley was accompanied by the Suquamish Tribe member Calina Lawrence; Emma Stone brought the tennis champ and LGBT advocate Billie Jean King, who Stone portrayed in the film Battle of the Sexes; Susan Sarandon brought the Puerto Rican media justice activist, former Green Party vice-presidential nominee Rosa Clemente; and Amy Poehler’s guest was Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunities Center.

We’re joined right now by Rosa Clemente and Saru Jayaraman, after a very long night, I am sure. Rosa Clemente’s latest project is — she’ll talk all about it — “” And Saru Jayaraman is the director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. Her latest book is titled Forked: A New Standard for American Dining, author of Behind the Kitchen Door.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Saru, let’s begin with you. Talk about your experience last night at the Golden Globes, certainly a breakthrough night in so many ways.

SARU JAYARAMAN: It was incredible. It was electric. And it was especially moving for me to be with Amy Poehler, because she actually worked in the restaurant industry, in which I organize, for many years. She experienced a lot of the things that the women in our industry experience, and was able to really let the media know that there are very clear policy solutions to getting rid of harassment in our industry, which really impacts — our industry actually really impacts even the women in Hollywood, because one in two Americans, like Amy and many celebrities, worked in our industry in their youth.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what it was like in the room, the whole approach, the theme, #MeToo, so many people wearing that. Talk about, you know, something you may have watched on TV before, or maybe you never did, and, as well, we just heard Oprah Winfrey’s speech describing her own breakthrough experience.

SARU JAYARAMAN: I saw so many people moved. And it wasn’t just in the room, outside of the room. I can’t tell you the number of people in Hollywood and outside of Hollywood who said that this was the most important moment of their careers, that so many people in Hollywood told me that the Golden Globes never meant as much, or anything at all, until last night. And I think, for women outside of Hollywood, the women in the restaurant industry, domestic workers, farmworkers, women in Puerto Rico, women all over, last night was also incredible because it was women standing together, across so many different sectors and places and, you know, situations, to say, “Enough is enough, and our power is collective, and we’re going to, as Oprah said, see another horizon.”

I mean, in our case, last night actually wasn’t just about Hollywood. It wasn’t just about women wearing black. It wasn’t just a show of solidarity. In fact, in our case, last night — because of last night and everything last night represents, we’re seeing real policy change in our industry. We’ve been fighting for many years for One Fair Wage, which is the elimination of the lower wage for tipped workers, which really is the source of harassment in our industry, because you’ve got a mostly female workforce living on tips, having to tolerate all kinds of inappropriate customer behavior. And you can cut that in half. Our research shows you can cut that in half by getting rid of that lower wage for tipped workers, because women actually then get a wage and don’t tolerate, you know, harassment for tips. And actually, as a result of the movement and the moment and last night, Governor Cuomo in New York has suggested that he will move forward to eliminate lower wages for tipped workers in New York. Now, we have to make that happen, but wow! What an extraordinary thing that women coming together, it’s not just about wearing black, it’s not just about an awards show, but it could actually result in policy change for millions of the lowest-wage women in the United States. And that is historic. That’s historic.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente, talk about how you got involved with the #TimesUp movement, what your experience was last night, going to the Golden Globes with Susan Sarandon.

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, first, we have to say that if it wasn’t for Mónica Ramírez from the Farmworkers Alliance, and the Farmworkers Alliance writing a letter to Hollywood women, letting Hollywood women know you’re just not actresses, you’re also workers, and there’s this entertainment industry where you’re exploited, as well, and you’re subject to sexual violence, none of us would have been there, because Mónica and them wrote that letter and then reached out to Tarana Burke of #MeToo, and then Tarana Burke reached out to the rest of us, and that’s how we got there.

I think it’s critically important also to uplift actresses of color that were not nominated, because you don’t get into the Golden Globes unless you’re nominated, like America Ferrera and Tracee Ellis Ross and Ava DuVernay and so many women of color who are actresses, who also suffer from violence and racial injustice in that industry, who wanted to also make sure we were there. You know, so, of course, because Susan Sarandon has been one of the most left, radical actresses or advocates in that peer group, me and Susan know each other, especially through our mutual work and political leanings in the Green Party.

You know, so, obviously, as a Puerto Rican, it was an interesting moment, because I knew most of my people in Puerto Rico could not see me, because they don’t have power. And it was also a good moment, because —

AMY GOODMAN: In a lot of senses of the world — in a lot of senses of the word, Rosa.

ROSA CLEMENTE: — the energy was — it was very overpowering, in this sense, that every person in that room, that we know have access and power to something and resources that can help us take these movements to another level, were very serious. And there were many women who people would assume because of their visibility and their perceived power that have never been affected by violence, and the amount of hugs and gratitude and thank-yous that we got shows that we have a shared empowerment at this moment. And it was fantastic.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what some have described as this elite group, obviously, Hollywood? Even if the pay grade, for example, is different between men and women, still women make much more, obviously, than the women you represent, Saru, in the restaurant industry, than the people who are in crisis right now, Rosa, where you just were, in Puerto Rico. But how Hollywood can set a tone, can change the climate, can really shape mores in America? Rosa, the importance of Hollywood?

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, look, you know, even at the end of the day, these are people that financially are multimillionaires and part of what, you know, our movement and our people have rightfully deemed the 99 percent. I think this is going to take a lot of conversations about how we talk about capitalism and what that means when everything in the society is monetized. With that said, #TimesUp has raised $16 million, and all that money will go to those, particularly mostly women, who don’t have any money to pursue any type of case, any type of reparation and damage that has been done to them, and to have lawyers to represent them.

I also think it’s important that people understand this, right? It is Hollywood, but there’s levels of inequality in Hollywood. And I really think people need to know these names of actresses that have spoken out about Harvey Weinstein for over 20 years and were some of the most targeted, that, I know from conversations, have felt marginalized from this group, like a Rose McGowan, an Annabella Sciorra, a Mira Sorvino, a Rosanna Arquette. You know, and that’s something that these women are going to have to, with our support, more advocate for themselves. But the first group of women, who I just named, who came out around Harvey Weinstein were the ones that have most been affected in this sense. Most of them have not worked in a decade. Most of them have not worked in 15 years, because they were some of the first ones to speak out. And also they were some of the ones that were subjected to rape, not only once, but twice.

Salma Hayak was there. And it was powerful to see her, and it was powerful to talk to her, in the sense that even with all the power and money that she has, it was only through the #MeToo movement and through the work of social and racial justice activists, like all of us, that she felt it was her time to speak up.

So, there’s a lot of nuances to it. And at the end of the day, #TimesUp is also going to have to support all of our organizations. They’re going to have to support all of our work. But primarily, right now, they have to step up hard and set aside a fund, that would allow the women to not only have like reparations, some type of settlement, where they can live, if they’re never going to work in the industry again, but also that these women can have access to mental health services to get them through the crisis that they’re in right now.


SARU JAYARAMAN: Yeah, I was really pleasantly amazed, actually, how genuine the women in that room, that are part of #TimesUp, actually recognize their privilege, recognize their station in life and their situation and how different it is from other people, and continuously kept saying, you know, “If I have felt very disempowered, you know, afraid to speak up, imagine how restaurant workers and domestic workers and farmworkers and so many other women around the world feel. How could they possibly speak up?” And yet, like you said, I mean, the leverage that this group has, they recognize their privilege, which is why they were so willing to extend it to us, in an incredible moment, to actually leverage that situation and privilege for power for all of us.

It’s so funny. I mention that, because of this moment, Governor Cuomo is moving, is talking about eliminating the lower wage for tipped workers, for 400,000 tipped workers in New York. And that’s obviously a long time in coming. We’ve been working on these issues for many years. But Amy Poehler said it well. She said, “We’re so happy to help unscrew a lid that you’ve been unscrewing for decades. We’re so happy to stand there with you while we take it off together.” That is what this moment represents. Yes, it is women with power, but women with power extending their privilege and their platform to other women, who also have — as Mónica Ramírez has said, from the farmworkers, “We have power, too. Farmworkers have power. Restaurant workers have power. It’s our collective power.” It’s the power of women who’ve been working on these issues for decades and decades, now standing together with women who have a platform, to announce #TimesUp, and we can actually make not just — we can not just dethrone individuals. We can not just come out and name our truths. We can actually create policy and structural change on these issues.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion with Saru Jayaraman, who’s president and co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, or ROC United, representing restaurant workers. Rosa Clemente is a well-known Puerto Rican activist, independent journalist, walked the Golden Globes red carpet Sunday night with actress Susan Sarandon. We’ll find out more about their work in a moment.


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