[VIDEO] Short Documentary on Laborers Looking for Work in Hasid Williamsburg ‘Hood

Came across a really interesting six-minute documentary on the very rebellious Failed Messiah website, which focuses on day laborers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn who are often hired by people within the Satmar hasidim community.

Watch “Brooklyn’s Corner of Broken Dreams” below:

As a video documenting a unique situation I was unaware of, I’m finding it quiet fascinating. However, I can’t help but see it as somewhat careless as far as its portrayal and subtle demonizing of an entire community of people, as it reads as both an important voice for undocumented laborers, as well as another example of “Look at how crazy and awful religious Jews are.”

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11 replies

  1. A former friend of mine asked me to go hire a guy for landscaping help. I was happy to offer the guy some work. He worked his ass off all day long. My friend came back from getting her hair done and scolded me because I was having a beer with the guy as we went through the next day’s plan.
    It was explained to me that these dirty Mexicans are beneath us and I was wrong to give him a beer after his efforts. Well, that was enough to end the friendship. When I explained why I was leaving the friendship I expressed my displeasure with that dynamic and she explained to me that in Costa Rica, where her husband came from, The ‘Help’ could, should nor would be treated as equals. Adios Judy

    • I wish I had the brain capacity right now to riff on hired labor culture, because it’s so insanely interesting to me. Specifically, how it’s perceived in American society(ies); why it’s regarded as a “lesser” form of work (possibly due to the thought that it is “unstable” as far as “holding a job down” is concerned); and how websites/services such as TaskRabbit are potentially redefining this type of service (perhaps only among “white people” I’m not sure) as something “cool” and “hip” to do for money.

      There’s also this double-edge sword scenario where it’s good to give people work who need work (hire a few guys to help you landscape), but within left-wing/activist/progressive scene this is often regarded as reinforcing classist/racist economic conditions (“You shouldn’t hire ‘brown people’ to clean your apartment”).

      • The brown guy I hired earned 100 bucks plus lunch. And he earned every dollar. If that reinforces anything, it is that that is good dinero,tax free.

  2. Why do human beings always feel the need to create some kind of hierarchy where they think their shit smells better than someone else’s? “Chosen People”, the caste system in India, the class system in England, the meritocracy in America, it’s all stupid, contrived constructs. Everyone ends up being food for worms eventually.

    • “Why do human beings always feel the need to create some kind of hierarchy where they think their shit smells better than someone else’s?”

      EER, I’m not even sure “othering” people is complete unnatural. It seems to be a ubiquitous practice among all people of all cultures of all time periods (I’m, of course, basing this on roughs ideas of what I *think* I’ve read and seen). As a mental experiment I’ve recently returned to the fence, wondering if othering is an instinct not entirely without benefits, or if nothing else, was a necessary tool for people of years gone by (prehistoric, etc.), and thus informative as to what “human nature” may be all about.

      This is why I tend to use a critique of “power-over” (as someone like Starhawk might define it), in the world of centralized govs and nation states, as my lens. Power-over turns instincts into things like institutionalized racism, de-humanism, sexism, bigotry, sexual predatory-ish-ness, etc. etc. etc. At least, I’m experimenting with wondering if that be the case.

    • Well…the alternative that we’re all created equal sure isn’t the case either. Yes, we all end up worm food but inbetween some of us are smart like Hawking and some of us aren’t. Some of us can compete in the olympics and some of us fall over with planks of wood strapped to our feet.

      • Thaddeus, I think while I can agree we have different levels of ability, I think we have the same levels of worth. My problem is that many hierarchical systems tend to create different arbitrary levels of worth and it’s usually based on a system of economics, resource management.

        Bob, I agree “othering” may have come out of something prehistoric and may be wired into us from the get-go (i.e I belong to this cave group and we just killed this mammoth and I see you belong to another cave group and you ain’t eating my mammoth cause there isn’t a lot to go around) I still think surely we can evolve beyond that level at this point, no? There’s plenty of mammoths to go around now.

        • “[S]urely we can evolve beyond that level at this point, no? There’s plenty of mammoths to go around now.

          Following the trends in discussion about inclusion and diversity is kinda interesting. Starting (sorta) with the “melting pot,” which saw diversity as integration. Then that morphed into the “mosaic,” which attempted at respecting difference, but had the problem of borders reinstated. That shifted slightly toward the “salad bowl,” which appreciated difference and allowed for a little intermingling. On the far end of the spectrum is the racialist perspective—what I might call the “thali platter” model—where difference is supposedly appreciated and respected, but kept decidedly separate. Essentially, “separate but equal” with a twist. You see this popping up in the more racialist aspects of the Asatru circles in modern paganism (which I am mildly fascinated with).

          So, there is an evolution occurring, and we can see it in the language. The wrestling of how our potentially instinctual inclinations to other can remain non-destructive. Even the racialist model, which I find very very problematic (for obvious reasons) is a way of wrestling with the issue, with (at least a stated) intent of respecting the “other.” Again, problematic.

          As far as whether or not there are enough mammoths to go around, I leave that question for Ran Prier and the r/collapse scene on reddit. Personally, I have no idea what “enough” really means, since power and the centralization of governments seems to control, define, and confuse distribution of mammoths.

  3. Well this is obviously disturbing and sad. I am really happy though that they have Javier to act as a support system for these women. I bet you there is a way for them to form a collective and be hired out with better wages and with more protection against the pervy Religious me and gross religious women.

  4. With a working class comes those who would exploit them. I can see why this could be taken as a “those crazy Jews” kind of thing, but I think it’s a common reaction of those with power to those without it. I remember one of my first actual paycheck jobs as a waitress in a podunk diner. I was earning $2.15 an hour plus tips, and one night, I made a whopping $2 in tips. The boss, a nice old white small town guy, came over and told me he was sorry business had been so bad that I hadn’t got much in tips. With one hand, he gave me $5 to make up for the crap tips, and with the other, he felt me up. Being 16, and raised to be completely submissive to older males, I did nothing but stand there in shock. Later on, I told my mom, who congratulated me on getting $5 and only giving up a squeeze. It’s a weird culture, this poverty, this bowing down to men who feel they are above us. It’s a complicated thing, for sure.

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