One of our amazing members, Kelly Curry, wrote and recited this poem at our most recent national convening. Behold:

It’s Time For a new agreement
by Kelly Curry (ROC the Bay member leader)

It’s time for a new agreement
cuz the current arrangement is taking me back
to the days
when negroes and natives were slaves
and poor white folks was one ratchet above
only difference was they wadnt in chainsamerica is never in a giving mood when it comes to money equality
that’s why we need organizations like ROC and we need to her stay pristine
because it’s deals goin’ on in the back room honey
and the devil is in there behind the scenes
and its foul and its dirtylike what the NRA is doing in Washington everyday
to keep things like it was in the good old days
when niggas was in chains
except now it don’t matter whether you are red yellow black or green
except now the chains ain’t the kinds going around your ankles binding your feet
it’s more of a psychic thingwhy else would we agree to work for their minimum wage
plus tips that don’t amount to shit
most of us workin’ in kitchens have to have two jobs plus collect food stamps to make ends meet
we gotta keep it pushin’
we cant quit
but it still ain’t enough money
instead of becomming masters of our own destiny we are masters of paying pieces swatches of rent, phone, collect coins to put gas in the tank
we are pawns in somebody else’s bizarre game fantasy
a never ending supply of labor one that will keep giving and giving and giving consistently until we decide that it’s time for a new agreement

one where you cannot fire me because i won’t take you screaming on me
one where we all have the audacity to believe that paid sick days benefits and raises will not cause a bottom line catastrophe
and one where it don’t take me a whole day to earn what i spend in one swipe at the starbucks with my wife

it seems to me ROC is doing it the right way
with these surveys
sittin’ and talkin with people i see the shift in their eyes
when they realize that this is the one life they have and they are giving it away day after day on a treadmill existence where they will never win unless they agree to come on board and change the agreement

it’s time for a new one
because this is taking me back to the days
when to do what they are doing to us we had to be in chains
cuz nobody in they right mind would carry on working for so little this way
no matter what they say it’s the same wine in the same old bottle
they just keep changing the label and the name
No matter what they call it it tastes the same
And its bitter to me

it’s been over a hundred years dude since they said people cannot work for free…

this is not the world i want to live in this is not the world i want these babies to see
when he fired me in berkeley because i spoke up for me and my colleagues and told me if i wanted to be treated with respect i was in the wrong industry
I promised my God and the tears i didn’t cry
that that lie hadn’t seen the last of me
that if i was granted the platform i would speak up for every
anybody who sacrifices a little bit of their humanity to that BS

a month later I found ROC and ROC found me…

I will go wherever she asks me to go
because whenever I talk to my old colleagues
about her, their eyes gleam
“you think one day we can get benefits?” they say to me
Don’t nothin beat a failure but a try
Their hope, tangible and real, fuels me

together we are manifesting a dream
and amongst all the beautiful things of that dream
the thing that makes it tick
is the promise of a new agreement