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Aug. 3, 2022

Domestic Workers Part 1: The Labor That Makes All Other Work Possible

“I remembered reminding myself that I would never work for wealthy families again.” ~ Allison Julien

Taking care of children, disabled folks, the elderly, and the home is important work, but it doesn’t always get the respect it deserves - whether it’s paid or unpaid labor.

In this first part of a two-part series, we get an inside look into an occupation behind closed doors and in private homes - domestic work.

Tune in to hear from five incredible guests about:

  • Why and how people become domestic laborers
  • The dynamics of race, class, and gender that inform employer and employee relationships
  • How domestic workers create and negotiate contracts and boundaries
  • The disrespectful treatment and undignified labor conditions domestic workers have endured
  • And how their labor makes all other work possible

And be sure to listen to part two (Ep. 9) to learn more about domestic worker organizing - historically and today.



Allison Julien is the We Dream in Black Organizing Director for the National Domestic Worker’s AllianceListen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 01:41:59)

Adela Seally is a professional nanny and childcare specialist, mother of seven, and a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance - New York We Dream in Black Chapter.  Listen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 00:59:38)

Rose Gloria* is nanny who has worked with over 50 families in the last 15 years. Her identity and voice have been changed to protect her identity. Listen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 02:26:08)

Premilla Nadasen is a Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University and the author of “Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement.” Listen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 01:05:28)

Nikki Brown-Booker is the Program Officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. She is a person with a disability who employs six domestic workers. Listen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 00:56:24)

Learn more about podcast guests here and read their full bios!


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Creator, Host and HBIC: Taja Lindley

Audio Engineering by Lilah Larson

Music by Emma Alabaster who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer

Additional Music Production by Chip Belton

Vocals by Patience Sings

Mixing and Mastering by Chip Belton

Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster

Logo and Graphic Design Templates by Homegirl HQ

This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle and supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project

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Producer’s Note: The Black Women's Dept. of Labor is produced as a podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of transcription software and human transcribers, and may contain typos. Please confirm accuracy before quoting by contacting us.

[00:00:00] Patience Sings: My labor's the foundation. Life at the intersections. I am my own creation. I do not dream of work.

[00:00:20] Allison Julien: My mother was a domestic worker.

[00:00:23] Adela Sealy: A regular work day for a nanny is between nine to ten hours.

[00:00:27] Rose Gloria: This position is also called a wifey. 

[00:00:29] Allison Julien: I remembered reminding myself that I would never work for wealthy families again.

[00:00:35] Patience Sings: Black women the foundation. Life at the intersections. Source of divine creations. Now listen now converse.

[00:00:49] Rose Gloria: Their six-year-old interviewed me.

[00:00:51] Nikki Brown-Booker: When my workers are treated with dignity and respect, that means that I'm also being treated with dignity and respect. 

[00:00:57] Allison Julien: Say thank you to domestic workers that you know. They make all other work possible.

[00:01:03] Patience Sings: Using our labor for more than wages. Our bliss, our rage, they're both contagious. Beyond the grind, we move through time. Joy is the compass, we live in our purpose. Telling our own stories, birthing new possibilities.

[00:01:30] Taja Lindley: You are listening to the Black Women's Dept. of Labor, a podcast and project by yours truly, Taja Lindley, where we examine the intersections of race, gender, and the double entendre of labor: to work and to give birth. 

[00:01:42] Taja Lindley: Welcome back y'all. Thanks for rocking with us during our short break to celebrate my birthday and the two year anniversary of the podcast. And thank you to everyone who showed some extra love in monetary and non-monetary ways to celebrate the occasion. 

[00:01:57] Taja Lindley: This month, we're wrapping up our current season of the podcast. 

[00:02:00] Taja Lindley: And this episode is part one of a two part series about domestic labor in the United States. We cannot talk about Black women's labor without touching on domestic labor. 

[00:02:12] Taja Lindley: In part one, we're examining the present day realities and challenges that Black women face in the domestic labor workforce. 

[00:02:18] Taja Lindley: And in our next episode, part two, we'll take a closer look at the history and current practice of domestic labor organizing to address those realities. 

[00:02:29] Taja Lindley: I want to introduce you to Rose Gloria, a Black woman in her early thirties who chose to speak on this podcast anonymously so she could protect her identity while speaking freely. 

[00:02:39] Taja Lindley: She's worked with approximately 50 families during her career as a nanny. Most of whom were white wealthy families in major cities in the United States. 

[00:02:48] Taja Lindley: She began as a babysitter and later transitioned into being a nanny who also has taken on responsibilities of housekeeping, house management, chef and chauffer in voluntary and in involuntary ways. 

[00:03:00] Taja Lindley: While she is passionate about her work with children, she is also an artist. So her nanny gigs help her to fund her creative work. 

[00:03:08] Taja Lindley: She found many of her nanny gigs through agencies where they pair domestic workers with families. 

[00:03:13] Rose Gloria: Working with an agency, that kind of looked like I'd get a call and, you know, the agent would say, I have a family that's two boys. They're five years old. They're twins. They're looking for someone to do two to seven Monday through Friday, picking up and dropping off. Um, are you interested? 

[00:03:32] Rose Gloria: And if I said yes, then I would go meet the family, do an interview, do a trial, which typically lasted for a week. And then there would be some negotiations with the agency and myself and back with the parents. And then I would get hired sometimes. And then finish doing the job. 

[00:03:46] Rose Gloria: On some occasions with agencies, they would need someone very quickly. Uh, like so many times I kinda came in as like the emergency backup backup of the backup because their nanny would fall through or someone else would get sick or something like that. And so I would like swoop in and really not know much about the child or where I was going. 

[00:04:08] Rose Gloria: Um, there's one time I was hired like Monday at 7:00 AM without meeting anyone. And by 6:00 PM, I was in Alaska with the two girls and we were in a hotel, just me and them. I was on vacation with them and their parents were in the other hotel room.

[00:04:25] Rose Gloria: The girls were great. Like, it was fine, but like, they were definitely like in my bed that night, watching a movie with me, just chilling. And I hadn't even met their parents until the next morning where they were like, hey, so you guys can hang out. Here's my credit card, bye. 

[00:04:38] Rose Gloria: In the two weeks, they saw them two times for like, you know, mommy and daddy days with both of the girls. And then after that, all the activities we did was just me and the kids.

[00:04:49] Taja Lindley: These agencies have a roster of families and domestic workers, and work to match the skills of workers with the needs of families. But sometimes, agencies don't tell the truth. 

[00:04:59] Rose Gloria: The way that the nanny agencies work is they see that you've made food before and they're like, you're a chef.

[00:05:04] Rose Gloria: So like some instances I would go into a place thinking I was being hired as a nanny and I'd be looked at as a chef. I'd try to figure out how to cook what I needed to cook in the moment. Um, I'd be honest with families most of the time, but that happened numerous times.

[00:05:19] Rose Gloria: I typically come in when people are in desperation, so they'll be like, oh, we just lost another nanny, and our chef and our chauffer. Is there somebody who can do all three? We'll pay them whatever they want. And I'll be like, yeah, I'm gonna figured out, I can drive. And that was very rare for there to be somebody who was able to do all of those things. And again, not professional in every single one of those, but able to kind of get the job done.

[00:05:44] Taja Lindley: These misrepresentations of Rose's skillsets put her in some awkward situations. 

[00:05:52] Rose Gloria: I've had several agencies uh, just lie. And my only understanding of it is that they get in these tight situations where they think they have someone available, they promise something that they can't quite keep. And the next thing you know, they have to deliver. Or this big person that has been with them for years is going to drop them. And that big person funds most of the things that this organization does, you know, especially these small agencies. So, you know, I've kind of been thrown in the fire several times because of that.

[00:06:24] Rose Gloria: And I've worked with several different agencies all over. There are some agencies that they will tailor your resume specifically for that family. I've seen my resume before and been like, whoa, I've never worked these jobs, like, because of just how they'll change.

[00:06:44] Rose Gloria: Like one time I remember my, and I had worked twins at least four or five times. Right. But in this particular way that the agency had changed my resume, it looked like I'd worked with twins eight to 12 different times. So, you know, I was asked very specific questions about these certain things that were on my resume that I had never even seen before.

[00:07:04] Rose Gloria: So yeah, they, the agents will tell you though. They'll say like, don't have any discussions about your resume. Just talk about your stories and experiences. Don't have discussions about money. Don't have discussions, you know, so it's very like, you're kind of just walking into something blindly. I mean, the whole thing was always this, like I had no idea what I was going to get.

[00:07:26] Taja Lindley: Rose, indeed, didn't always know what she was gonna get, like being interviewed by the child she was being hired to care for. 

[00:07:34] Rose Gloria: I've had a meeting once where their six-year-old interviewed me and she came out in a dress and was like, please sit down. Would you like any water? And then she was like, so why do you want this job? And the agency was actually really surprised that I never got to meet the mom, but at the end of the interview, she says well thank you so much for coming. Also just letting you know that I could fire you at any time. I didn't end up working with that family.

[00:08:00] Taja Lindley: When Rose began to book her own gigs outside of the nanny agencies, she had to negotiate her own contracts as well as her own boundaries. 

[00:08:08] Rose Gloria: I understood for the first time why those agencies used to lie. Because it's like you get in the home and there is this expectation for me to be the Jack of all trades, the Jill of all trades, like just to have all of these skills.

[00:08:22] Rose Gloria: And sometimes it's very clear that there needs to be some other support. So sometimes it's like, okay, this is a position for a nanny, but we also need a personal assistant so that when the kids are in school, this person is totally fine with doing errands and fixing things around the house and potentially managing some things around the house. And that works just fine when it's upfront. 

[00:08:44] Rose Gloria: There's been other situations where it was like, you know, can you travel with us? We are used to having a chef and a butler and they may not have communicated it that way. But then later I realized, oh, this family wanted me to travel, but I'm like the all-inclusive because who's going to cook? Who's going to, you know, and I didn't know, until they asked, they told me what they wanted for dinner, that I was expected to cook. 

[00:09:08] Rose Gloria: So a lot of times it's like a get in where you fit in type of job. And they'll definitely describe it like team player, which is very vague in terms of how far that stretches and what you're expected to do.

[00:09:21] Rose Gloria: And I always kind of know those terms when I hear in the interviews or the trial periods where they're still, like, we're still getting to know each other, that they're interested in someone who can, whose skill set goes beyond the nannying and that they can kind of... some families, it is wring you dry.

[00:09:39] Rose Gloria: Like, and that's how I felt where any skill that I had, they felt like they were paying for anything that I had brought to the table. So, you know, if I knew another language or something like that, it was like, well, then you need to be teaching my child this language, because I'm paying for that.

[00:09:54] Rose Gloria: They've already bought everything that I am, everything that I own and everything I have to give. And so whenever I wanted to place a boundary, regardless of who it was, there's maybe only two families that I never had to place a boundary with because they actually respected me and saw me as human.

[00:10:13] Rose Gloria: Many of these other situations. It was this big, like, but why? You know, and it was almost offensive to them that I needed to set a boundary. 

[00:10:24] Taja Lindley: Rose found that setting boundaries with white mothers specifically was particularly challenging. 

[00:10:30] Rose Gloria: I had, I had this family once, oh gosh, I, I called a meeting. And the mother was so taken aback by my request, which in that moment, my request was that if I am not working, cause that, that family I was living in with, and one of my days off, I kept having to wake up at six with the youngest.

[00:10:56] Rose Gloria: And it was my day off. It didn't make sense. So I was just like, can we really set some boundaries around my day off? And she was so taken aback because she thought that we more could operate more like family cause she got me all these gifts. 

[00:11:10] Rose Gloria: So anyway, she asked us to go to therapy, me and the whole family. And I went to therapy with this family, like three times. It was so crazy. And to, to help our negotiations because she was so taken aback that I needed to set boundaries when she thought we had more of a family ebb and flow dynamic. So that in some cases, if I had to work on the weekend then I would be open to it.

[00:11:40] Rose Gloria: But I was like, yes, but am I paid on the weekend? Are you open to that? And you going to pay me for some of those hours? Because even if I said I didn't want that and I didn't want to be paid and I just want my time off, is that okay? And it just wasn't for her. So we ended up parting ways.

[00:11:54] Taja Lindley: This moment of therapy with an employer would not be the last time Rose would have to navigate and satisfy the emotional needs of white mothers. 

[00:12:04] Rose Gloria: Sometimes they want a best friend. A lot of times this position is also called a wifey. It's kind of an in-house term. You'd never hear an agency talk about that or anything, but a lot of stay at home moms will say, I want a wife. And they're referring to a nanny that's also their best friend.

[00:12:20] Rose Gloria: I've been in situations where I've known that the husband was having an affair. There was underwear on the lawn one day. And the mom came out and saw it. And I had seen it there, but I was like, I don't know what's going on with that. I'm not touching that. That has nothing to do with me and my job. I'm taking care of these children. And then the mom came inside with the underwear in her hand and was like, Rose, are these your underwear?

[00:12:48] Rose Gloria: Now I am a, a Black woman with a,a butt okay. And these underwears were extremely tiny, like tiny, tiny. And I just looked at her and kept saying like, no, and she proceeded to tell me that they were my underwear. And I was like, to be honest, I think you and I both know I can't fit those. 

[00:13:13] Rose Gloria: And she proceeded the rest of the night to talk about this. I mean, all night long to tell me that she knows it's embarrassing and she knows that it was probably really strange that she was holding my underwear and I, I let her go on and on. And after I had said the second time that they didn't fit me, I just was silent.

[00:13:31] Rose Gloria: And I let her talk and talk and talk, because I knew she was going to talk herself into the truth. Cause it just wasn't making sense. And this was a woman that overshared a lot with me. So finally she acknowledges that, you know, maybe they weren't my underwear and she asks me, do you know whose underwear these are? And I said, I don't know whose underwear those are, but if they're not yours and they're not mine, I just kind of left it at that. 

[00:13:57] Rose Gloria: And the dad had been sneaking in a woman. I'd never seen this woman, but I'd seen items around the house. And I knew at this point, all of the items that, that the mother owned, because I've been with the family for like nine months at this point. And the things that were being found were kind of out of the style of the mother. 

[00:14:15] Rose Gloria: And so eventually became obvious. And so the day she found out, she just came in the house and threw her purse down and weeped in my arms. And she ran into my arms like they belonged to her. She ran into my arms like we do this all the time. She ran into my arms like I owed her. 

[00:14:31] Rose Gloria: I remember being like, I felt so, I felt so I don't think used as the word, but like taken, I felt so taken. Like she was like, take these emotions, and feel sorry for me with me. And she cried and cried. And like, I remember I was barely putting my arms around her cause I felt so uncomfortable. The kids also were like, what's going on? I was like making dinner, something was burning.

[00:14:57] Rose Gloria: And she like sat down and handed her purse to me took her jacket off, but like reached her arm out so I could take her arm out of her jacket. And I just was like, this is, she's wanting this moment that I'm, this is not my business. And I don't want to be involved in this. 

[00:15:14] Rose Gloria: And she was like, I think you were right. And I said, I don't think that I said anything, you know, I didn't say anything. And she was like, well, you said that if it wasn't my underwear and it wasn't yours and you didn't say anything else. And so I think we both know what's going on.

[00:15:32] Rose Gloria: And so I was just like, oh my gosh, this is... um, I just remember that was probably the most intense experience with a white mother.

[00:15:43] Taja Lindley: On the surface, this may seem to be a harmless interaction between women, but we need to remember that Rose is an employee, not a friend of the mother in this household. 

[00:15:54] Taja Lindley: Providing emotional support for parents was not in the job description, it was not in her scope of work, nor was it in her skillset. In fact, these expectations of Black women, specifically Black domestic workers, to offer such support is part of a "wifey" positionality that Rose mentioned earlier, which comes from the mammy stereotype. 

[00:16:15] Premilla Nadasen: So the mammy stereotype is an image of a supposedly content African-American woman who loyally serves and sacrifices for a white family. And this was an image that was created uh, towards the end of the 19th century, after the end of slavery, after the end of reconstruction. And it was created in part to romanticize the slave past, right, to resurrect these false notions that somehow African-Americans were content as slaves.

[00:16:48] Premilla Nadasen: And here is a living example of this African-American woman who's working for these white families who so incredibly happy to be a servant to them. So there is an image of the happy servant that connected with the history of slavery, of course, false and it justified the system of racial inequality and economic exploitation.

[00:17:07] Premilla Nadasen: This was an image that was perpetuated in books and films like "Gone With The Wind," that very famous figure. And that's where the term mammy comes from is that, that image. 

[00:17:18] Premilla Nadasen: And I think it played a powerful role in the way employers perceived their domestic workers and the expectations that they constructed for their work. So their workers would be there would serve them, would be at their beck and call.

[00:17:31] Taja Lindley: That's Premilla Nadsen, a professor of history at Barnard College, Columbia University. 

[00:17:36] Taja Lindley: She's the author of "Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built A Movement." 

[00:17:43] Taja Lindley: We'll hear more from Premilla in part two about the history of domestic worker organizing and how the expectations of the domestic labor workforce has its roots in American slavery.

[00:17:52] Taja Lindley: But right now, I want us to hone in on the concept of the mammy. And how the expectation of an asexual Black woman who is content with her servitude continues to show up in Rose's work. 

[00:18:04] Taja Lindley: A good example of this is what Rose calls her nanny clothes. 

[00:18:08] Rose Gloria: Nanny clothes are necessary because I've had situations where I wasn't hired before because a mom would say you know, I'm very interested in you. Um, we'd get past like the first phone interview and then we'd do like another interview on like uh, you know, a FaceTime situation, but maybe the camera didn't work. And then when it came to meeting in person, it was an immediate no. 

[00:18:32] Rose Gloria: And I remember once I followed up with the mom and said, you know, I just I'm trying to learn. Was there something that I said specifically, or... she was like, oh no, honey, you're perfect. It's just, you're my husband's type. And I can't really afford that right now in my marriage.

[00:18:47] Rose Gloria: So I told my elder nanny that, and then I remember her saying, oh yes, yes, yes. She was like, ah, I should have told you before. She was like, I never thought you exposed too much anyway, but I guess we've got to cover up more nowadays.

[00:19:02] Taja Lindley: When Rose is referring to her elder nanny, she's talking about an older nanny who served as a mentor to help her navigate the domestic labor market. 

[00:19:11] Taja Lindley: She is someone Rose would turn to for advice and insight about how to handle and manage situations that came up with her nanny gigs. 

[00:19:18] Rose Gloria: And she said, you know, always big clothes, always you know, cover your body. No shapes. None of your shapes should be showing and, um, no bright colors, unless it's just for the kids. But you should be able to blend in and only be available and visible when needed. 

[00:19:36] Rose Gloria: And I remember hearing that and being like, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to do this. And so I stopped for a while. I mean, I was always doing my work as well in between, but then it would fall in my lap, another really great opportunity in the midst of my other work. And it made sense. And slowly I found myself saying, okay, I'll just, I'll just do it because I can make this money and connect with this child that I think is great and hopefully be inspired and keep creating more and, you know, have the funding for my other work.

[00:20:08] Rose Gloria: And it bothers me a lot even now to say that so much of my staying in the industry was about the money. I don't like that a lot of that was my choice. And I did just fold because I knew that's what was going to make me more valuable. That was what was going to make me you know, make people hire me more and it did, it happened as soon as I changed that. I'd show up to interviews and show up to trials where my butt was always covered.

[00:20:35] Rose Gloria: I always had like that sweater tied around me everywhere. So the nanny costume for me, ended up being a long almost like a sweater dress, like a pillow sack situation. And then on top of that, there was another sweater that went around my waist. 

[00:20:55] Rose Gloria: Part of that also was because whenever I had to take the children into the bathroom with me, I was not showing parts of my body, but they would have to come in the bathroom with me.

[00:21:03] Rose Gloria: So I would turn the sweater around so it was covering my body, or I would have my dress down, you know, so that it was covering me while I went to the bathroom. And so I always kind of had to be prepared to go to the bathroom at any point. So then that just became my nanny garb and there were no logos on my shirts, no affiliations with anything.

[00:21:23] Rose Gloria: Most of my clothing was black and um, no loud earrings. and at some point I stopped styling my hair in certain ways because I was sick of them asking me how I got my hair that way overnight. Um, I was tired of them asking me if I cut my hair just cause I had shrinkage, all of that.

[00:21:39] Rose Gloria: So Bantu knots were not a thing. I did do head wrap sometimes, but I just had to prepare myself for the comments about the head wrap. And typically they were, wow, you look so regal, you look so- can you do my hair like that? You know, there was a lot of that, but no matter what, it was always annoying. I just never wanted the comments, honestly.

[00:21:58] Taja Lindley: Nanny clothes are a response to not only the stereotype of the mammy, but they're also our response to the stereotype of the Jezebel: the hyper sexualization of Black women's bodies and sexuality. 

[00:22:09] Taja Lindley: So while Rose was uninterested in the fathers who employed her, the mothers in the household could not risk the possibility of their husband's attraction to the nanny. The mammification of Rose's wardrobe helped to reduce any sense of attraction, but in some cases it was not enough. 

[00:22:25] Taja Lindley: To be clear, this is not Rose's responsibility. But rather a way that she and others like her navigate the workforce with an understanding of how race and gender operate in the industry, operate in the white imagination, and operate in this nation. 

[00:22:40] Taja Lindley: And while nanny clothes and subdued hairstyles were designed to keep Rose invisible, there are times when her white employers wanted her to be visible for their guests. 

[00:22:49] Rose Gloria: Like there was one time that I was told to dance at a party. They were like, we need something, some entertainment. And they're like, hey, don't you dance? I don't know that I've heard. And I've heard a lot of stories from many nannies of many different races and white nannies, uh, young white nannies. And none of them I've heard- when I've told that story to them, they're typically shocked.

[00:23:12] Taja Lindley: And these aren't the only ways Rose experienced issues of race, class, and gender in her care work, especially when she traveled with her employers to their extended family's home. 

[00:23:22] Rose Gloria: There's not one families that I've been to that didn't have some sort of mammy salt shaker or some sort of like- the worst one I've seen. Oh my gosh. Was this table and underneath the table was a little Black boy holding it up. That was the whole table. So it was his body holding up the table and he's smiling like a forced grotesque smile with pink lips and the table was at the top. And so it looked like he was holding it up and squished in between the floor and the table. 

[00:23:55] Rose Gloria: And like I watched everybody put things on top of the table and just carry on and like put their foot on little part of the little boy's leg, like the structure. And it just drove me completely crazy. 

[00:24:08] Rose Gloria: And I asked one day where it was from, and they're like, oh, this is one of our old pieces. It went with this other piece, which was a piece of like white men on horses and Black people carrying some sort of weeds in their hands in another of the pictures.

[00:24:27] Rose Gloria: But the dynamic of that happening, seeing these images and then trying to play with this little white boy while this little Black boy table is there and the Grandpa's got his leg on the table, I just couldn't, you know, and them asking me questions like did you ever get to meet your father?

[00:24:43] Rose Gloria: What? Like, they don't know me. That's the first question they ask about my family? Did I ever get to meet my father? What? Or, you know, comments like you are so pretty. There's no way you're just Black.

[00:24:55] Taja Lindley: And being a Black domestic worker in wealthy white homes during the Black lives matter, uprisings meant overhearing troubling and disturbing conversations. 

[00:25:05] Rose Gloria: It was when Eric Garner was killed. And there was so much various conversation in every family's home about this. And I remember I had these twins with me and they were babies, like not even one yet. I was feeding them and the dad was outside.

[00:25:27] Rose Gloria: He was like talking with a bunch of friends and he made a comment that was like, you know, I don't even care what happened to him. He really deserved it. I mean, why would you sell cigarettes? And, you know, Black lives sometimes matter, but let's really look at what they've done to this country. And, you know, he continued to go on and on. And I remember looking at the babies and being like y'all are cute and I'm leaving. 

[00:25:49] Rose Gloria: I put them down and I gesture the mom to come inside really quick.

[00:25:53] Rose Gloria: And she comes in and she's like, yeah, everything okay? And I was like, well, I think I'm going to leave. I can give you another hour, but I'm going to leave within the hour. And she asked why. And I told her that the comment that was made made me extremely uncomfortable. And she was like, I tried to warn you that he was very conservative.

[00:26:11] Rose Gloria: And, and I was like, yeah, I remember you telling me that. This is actually another level. I think that there's something you're not understanding here. And she's like, well help me understand so I can get you to stay. And I was like, nothing will get me to stay. I'm leaving. And so I left and she was very distraught and that was through an agency.

[00:26:29] Rose Gloria: So she called the agency and just went off. And the agency did not have my back. They said that I should have stayed. And that was their political choice. And I stopped working with that agency after that.

[00:26:40] Taja Lindley: This experience that Rose shared is a stark reminder of the financial and emotional costs of having boundaries in this industry. When I asked Rose if there was ever a time that she felt like she could assert a boundary without consequence, she shared this: 

[00:26:55] Rose Gloria: Never without consequence. There was always a passive aggressive consequence and it always came within the hour.

[00:27:02] Rose Gloria: It was very difficult to uh, set a boundary because it felt like if I did, I saw that things got harder for me. I saw that I was asked to do more. That the dishes were just not quite clean enough. Can I clean them all again? You know, that type of thing was asked when I did set boundaries. It was almost like I paid for it every time I set boundaries. 

[00:27:26] Taja Lindley: During this time of the pandemic, many of us have had to grapple with the issues of consent and boundaries while navigating our health and our safety. 

[00:27:33] Taja Lindley: The same is true for domestic workers like Rose who were providing in-home labor for families. But the kinds of employment situations Rose has encountered has been ripe for some sketchy and troubling situations. 

[00:27:46] Rose Gloria: There was a situation where I was with a family and I remember I uh, during the pandemic and I cut my finger a little bit because I was cutting apples for the kids.

[00:27:55] Rose Gloria: And I remember the dad said to me, he was like you know, you can't go to the hospital for that. And if you need stitches, I can do it downstairs in the basement. And I was like, no. One, I didn't need stitches. Two, what? 

[00:28:05] Rose Gloria: And they didn't want me to go to a hospital or something if I needed to, because then I would be more likely to come back with COVID because that's how the hospitals were then.

[00:28:15] Rose Gloria: Then there were situations I was in also where a family decided, you know, I think the best thing to do is to just get it. Let's just get it. So they had friends that they knew that had been in recovery from COVID and at the time there was no timeline. We didn't have that incubation period knowledge or any of that. So they just had their friends come over and hang out. So they could get COVID but also exposed me. 

[00:28:38] Rose Gloria: They made sure that they were on another side of the home, but if they exposed them to, to themselves and they're around their kids and their kids around me, I mean, they are still exposing me.

[00:28:48] Rose Gloria: So there was that, and that, that was happening without my permission. That was happening without my awareness at all. 

[00:29:00] Taja Lindley: The stories that Rose shared really highlight why domestic workers organize for dignity and respect in their labor market. 

[00:29:06] Taja Lindley: And I had an opportunity to interview Allison Julien, the We Dream in Black Organizing Director for the National Domestic Workers alliance. 

[00:29:14] Taja Lindley: You'll hear from Allison again in part two as we review historical and present day organizing strategies for dignity and respect in the domestic labor workforce. 

[00:29:23] Taja Lindley: Allison's organizing work is informed by her own experience as a domestic worker in New York City. 

[00:29:28] Allison Julien: I came to domestic work as a newer immigrant in New York City. That was the only work for me to do really as an undocumented immigrant in the early 1990s. 

[00:29:40] Allison Julien: And I feel like my background in domestic work came very natural for me. I am originally from a very big family. So having cared for younger siblings and relatives and neighborhood kids doing uh, nannying at the time was a natural fit for me to come into my work as a domestic worker.

[00:30:03] Taja Lindley: Allison and her family are from the Republic of Barbados. And she finds inspiration in her family for her work as a domestic worker and as an organizer. 

[00:30:12] Allison Julien: My mother was a domestic worker in the U.S. and Canada and Barbados. My grandmother was also a domestic worker. I also have many of my sisters who do work as domestic workers as well.

[00:30:25] Allison Julien: I actually learned that I was the third generation domestic worker after I got involved in the work and recognized how my work was similar to stories that I had heard from my mom and from my grandmother. 

[00:30:42] Allison Julien: I spent a lot of time providing care for my mom. It was definitely challenging because as my mom got older and needed more care, it was making sure that she had the care that was necessary for her while I worked full-time as a domestic worker. 

[00:30:58] Allison Julien: She was such a great storyteller and I pay homage to her in this, in this recording because I just lost my mom a couple months ago. I carry the heart and the work and the soul that she brought to domestic work. 

[00:31:12] Allison Julien: For me every day as I get to advocate and organize domestic workers, my mom is really the reason why I came into this work. She was the reason why I understood why caring for her was so important because she had cared for so many people.

[00:31:30] Taja Lindley: Allison's career as a domestic worker spans over 25 years across New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. She's done everything from being a live-in to a live out nanny, working with single families and doing shared work.

[00:31:45] Allison Julien: For the most part my employers were middle-class people. In the beginning, I had an experience working with an extremely wealthy family. And the way that I was treated on that job, I didn't last very long. I probably lasted about a month on that job before I quit. I remembered reminding myself that I would never work for wealthy families again, because I was not treated well on that job.

[00:32:12] Allison Julien: I was disrespected. I was disregarded. I was made to feel so, so small. I felt belittled doing the work. And I reminded myself, if this was the way that I was going to make money doing domestic work, and this was going to be the way that I was going to be treated, I didn't want to make money that way.

[00:32:34] Allison Julien: And that was a promise that I kept through my entire career. I committed not to work with wealthy families again, and that's not to say that all wealthy people were that way or they are that way, but that was a conscious decision that I made for myself. 

[00:32:48] Allison Julien: I wanted to work with families that respected me as a person, that respected the work that I did and understood that I was an essential part of raising or helping them to raise their children. 

[00:33:03] Allison Julien: And it took me a very long time to really get to that place of being clear about who I was as a professional domestic worker and the kinds of families that I wanted to work with.

[00:33:15] Allison Julien: So for the most part, they were small families. I've only worked with up to two children at a time because anything more than two children is a lot and requires a different set of skills at a whole other level of patience. 

[00:33:32] Allison Julien: Later, as I got more experienced into the work I decided that I would try uh shared nannying. That did not last very long because I recognized um, my primary family and the relationship that I had had with my primary family was not the same relationship that I had had with the new family. The new family was very dismissive of my boundaries. 

[00:33:58] Allison Julien: The biggest point of contention was in shared nanny oftentimes the rate for nannying gets negotiated down.

[00:34:08] Allison Julien: The newer family felt that they wouldn't need me for a certain number of hours that they wouldn't need to pay me. That was a huge problem because if I show up to work or not, the agreement that we had is that I should be paid because I am available to work. And after having conversations back and forth, I knew it was not going to work for me without me being stressed out. I called it quits. 

[00:34:34] Taja Lindley: Creating and maintaining boundaries in domestic work is key to ensuring dignified, fair, and respectful working conditions for domestic workers. These boundaries can be legislated, as we'll talk about in our next episode. But they are often asserted and maintained by domestic workers themselves. 

[00:34:52] Allison Julien: So in my work as a professional nanny, boundaries I realized were really, really important. And it took me many years to learn this because the culture in the domestic work industry is one that is set up that we have to work more in order to make more money.

[00:35:11] Allison Julien: I wanted to be very clear that I needed time. I needed time to rest. I needed time to spend with my family and my friends. I needed time to hang out and just have a social life. And if I was working all the time, that would not be possible. So really having employers understand at the end of the day, it's the end of the day. If I chose to work overtime, that was a choice I was making because I didn't have other commitments or maybe because I had a goal that I needed to reach financially. 

[00:35:42] Allison Julien: When I understood that my time was so valuable, I also made the suggestion to employers. Like you can hire somebody else for the evening hours because I'm unable to work. And for me that felt like a really good offer to the employers because they had an extra set of care or an extra set of hands available to care for the kids at the end of the day, when I was unable to do this. 

[00:36:06] Allison Julien: And it also gave them choice and more flexibility of having another domestic worker available without me exceeding my 40 hour work week or 50 hour work week, as some of my jobs would have been. 

[00:36:21] Allison Julien: So for me, that was really important and really clear to ensure that I was setting those kinds of boundaries for myself and also giving employers choice, right? Like there are so many other domestic workers out there and there's more than enough work. 

[00:36:39] Taja Lindley: Many domestic workers negotiate boundaries and expectations during the interview process. 

[00:36:44] Allison Julien: I remember interviewing for a family. And it was a family, I think they had three kids and I interviewed with the husband. Of course, I was really excited about the job. And the question that the husband asked me is well, what do you do when the kids are taking a nap? And my response was I take a nap I don't think the husband one, expected me to say that. And two, he was speechless. And I explained to him: in order for me to be in your house at eight o'clock in the morning, that means I have to be up by at least 5:30 to get ready. To get on the train to get to your house on time. And when you come home at six or seven o'clock in the evening, I don't make it home until seven or eight o'clock at night.

[00:37:30] Allison Julien: So no, I do not get enough rest. So when your three babies are taking a nap, I will also take a nap so that when your babies get up at three o'clock, I have the energy that I need to chase after them. 

[00:37:42] Allison Julien: I think employers need to understand what the requests they are asking from their domestic worker.

[00:37:50] Allison Julien: If it is something that you cannot do for yourself, do not make that request of anyone that you've hired in your home. Period. And it is very simple. If you can't clean the windows, walk the dog, take care of the child, tend to your aging parent in four hours, do not make that request of any other domestic worker. Because I can definitely assure you when your domestic worker is appreciated, respected, loved, and feel valued, they will show up the next day happy. 

[00:38:24] Allison Julien: And when you have a happy domestic worker, everybody in your house is happy. The kids are happy. The puppy is happy, mom and dad is happy. And we can repeat these cycles again. We don't have to continue repeating the cycles of oppression. We don't have to continue repeating the cycles of abuse.

[00:38:44] Taja Lindley: These cycles of oppression and abuse that Allison speaks of stem from a variety of historical context, like the gendered labor of caregiving, the devaluation of women's work, and the legacy of racialized slavery. These cycles are able to persist by blurring the lines of professionalism and familiarity. Namely, referring to domestic workers as members of the family. 

[00:39:05] Taja Lindley: Rose mentioned earlier that when she asserted her boundaries with an employer, they did not want to honor her boundaries because they felt like they had a quote "family ebb and flow dynamic." 

[00:39:14] Taja Lindley: While surely employers and employees can develop a sense of closeness and build bonds and relationships beyond the scope of work in any work environment, these blurred lines can create dynamics that are ripe for abuse and undignified labor conditions and environments for domestic workers. 

[00:39:30] Allison Julien: We hear oftentimes that you are a part of the family. 

[00:39:34] Allison Julien: Let's just say you worked in an office as a lawyer. There is no way your boss is going to come in and say, you know, well, today you are a part of the family. We are not going to give you 10 cases. 

[00:39:44] Allison Julien: Like, no. It doesn't translate in any other profession. It should not translate in the domestic work industry because your home is somebody else's workplace. So no, your, a domestic worker is not a part of the family. Period.

[00:40:01] Allison Julien: Your domestic worker, you can love on them, but they are not a part of your family. They are providing a service. You are an employer. You have hired them to perform a service. You can love on them. They will love on you and they will love on your kids, but they're not a part of the family. And I think when we throw that narrative around, that you're a part of the family, it is oftentimes because there's other underlying issues that's happening.

[00:40:27] Allison Julien: For example, pay is not up to par. The working hours are way too much. So you can work a 50, 60 hour week. I am not paying you overtime, but then I can say, well, you know, Allison, you're a part of the family. How can I be a part of the family when you're: one, not paying me over time; two, my light bill is late; and three, I have to be back in your house at seven o'clock the next day? 

[00:40:50] Allison Julien: There's a breakdown in how we really see uh, the person that is in the home. 

[00:40:56] Allison Julien: When we think of domestic workers across this country, many of them work in isolation. They go into someone else's home, the door closed, and no one else knows what happens behind those closed doors.

[00:41:16] Taja Lindley: Earlier, Allison shared a bit about how taking care of her aging mother was challenging when she was working full-time as a domestic worker. 

[00:41:22] Taja Lindley: What do these challenges look like and feel like for domestic workers who are also parents? Meet Adela Sealy, a professional nanny and childcare specialist with over a decade of experience.

[00:41:34] Taja Lindley: She's the mother of seven children and a member of the We Dream in Black New York chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. 

[00:41:41] Adela Sealy: I love kids. I love seeing how they discover their environment, how they grow, seeing the transformation from being a baby, to becoming a toddler, to seeing them learning how to walk, how to talk.

[00:41:55] Adela Sealy: I always had a love for kids. Growing up, I put a little group of kids together, so we had our drama club always putting on plays. And I taught in a preschool in my home country before I migrated to the U.S..

[00:42:08] Taja Lindley: Adela is from St. Lucia and has been employed by five families thus far during her career. She's worked both part-time and full time and only recently had the experience of living in with the family to provide her services during the pandemic. 

[00:42:21] Taja Lindley: Like Allison and Rose, Adela too is familiar with the importance of creating and maintaining boundaries with her employers. 

[00:42:28] Adela Sealy: As a nanny, I try to have this conversation during interview time that I'm here to care for the child, but 90% of the time they will ask you to do either a favor or they will have add ons to your responsibilities. And they will offer to pay.

[00:42:43] Adela Sealy: So in my case, sometimes my employer would ask me to finish her laundry, which she started and would pay me some extra money just for doing it. 

[00:42:51] Adela Sealy: I know that other nannies have been asked to do so much things that are way off from being just nanny's responsibilities, pick up the dry cleaners, take the dog for a walk.

[00:43:02] Adela Sealy: I remember my employer, they got, they got a dog and I was like, okay, you guys can get a dog, but Adela is not walking the dog. That was something I made clear from the time they were like, we're going to adopt a dog. I was like, I'm fine with you guys adopting the dog, but Adela is not taking the dog and the child for a walk that is not happening.

[00:43:21] Taja Lindley: In addition to negotiating boundaries around work and responsibilities, Adela has had to negotiate her pay. And it was in a workshop with Allison from NDWA that Adela learned that she needed to ask for higher wages. 

[00:43:33] Adela Sealy: So negotiations is very tricky, especially when it comes to the money, the money part. For people that look like me, Black and brown nannies, it's always feels like you're being offered less for your services in spite of how much experience you may have, how skilled you are. So sometimes you go into an interview and you find yourself having to almost fight for what you deserve or what you feel that you're worth.

[00:43:59] Adela Sealy: When I started my, my second job as a nanny, I was offered something and I just took it. I didn't really know anything about negotiations. But I went to a meeting at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And on that particular day, it was a training for negotiations. And I remember when Allison started breaking down the numbers, I sat there and I said to myself, oh my goodness, I've been working for free. But in my head, when I got it, I thought it was so good. 

[00:44:28] Adela Sealy: So when I went back to work, there was times we had a little bit of an issue that my employer would take off and wouldn't pay me. And then in that training and I, I got to know that if she is the one taking off and I'm available to work I should be compensated for my hours. 

[00:44:44] Adela Sealy: So I had that conversation with her and then we sat down and then we had our first contract at that time. 

[00:44:51] Adela Sealy: So for me, negotiation has become like with time you get strength, you get power when, especially when you're involved with an organization like the National Domestic Workers Alliance. I was so timid in the beginning and now I have become so powerful in my own strength and so confident in my experience and my skills, knowing that what I do is really worth what I'm asking for.

[00:45:15] Taja Lindley: So how does a mother of seven children juggle the responsibilities of care work at home and care work as a form of full-time employment? 

[00:45:22] Adela Sealy: A regular work day for a nanny is between nine to ten hours. Some people do 12 hours. But it's like, so if you're working and your commute is like two hours and you have a nine hour day, that means you're out of your house way longer than you spend time in your home.

[00:45:41] Adela Sealy: It can be challenging sometimes because you making sure that everything is on point, they're where they're supposed to be on time. You attend their recitals. You take them to the playground. You do so much more with your working family, your working kids, than you're able to do with your own kids.

[00:46:02] Adela Sealy: So for me, that was one of the parts where it gets a little muddy, I would say like a little, makes you feel a little guilty because my older kids, I was at home, I was doing homework. I was doing PA meetings. I was in the school show. I was volunteering in the school doing lunch duty and all of that. 

[00:46:21] Adela Sealy: And with the younger ones, I was working full time and could hardly- I probably went to one or two school trips with my last one and sometimes he'll bring that up. So that has been the most tricky part of balancing both care work, personal and professional. 

[00:46:39] Adela Sealy: For some reason I have way more patience with my work kids than I have with my kids. My kids are, I expect them to listen. By the time I say what I say twice I expect them to just listen. But with my working kids, I will keep saying it and saying it and saying it. 

[00:46:55] Adela Sealy: Yeah. So just missing milestones with your children and you're witnessing it with your work family makes you feel a little guilty, but I explain and say, well, if you want mommy to buy you that pair of shoes you want so bad, then she has to go to work.

[00:47:10] Adela Sealy: We have to keep a roof over our head and that's how we can do it by mommy working and getting money to pay the rent. So the explanation, I guess, makes it a little easier. But it's still something that pulls at you, at your heart strings as a parent.

[00:47:26] Taja Lindley: As Adela began to explain earlier, balancing the responsibilities of parenting and work look different when she transitioned from being a full-time mom to working part time and later to when she started working full-time. 

[00:47:38] Adela Sealy: Well part time you get to bring in a salary, a little bit of financial stability. But you still get to be able to go to parents association meetings, or go to a workshop in the school. I would be able to go on a school trip because maybe the day school trip is the day I am off.

[00:47:56] Adela Sealy: When you start full time, it's like every day you have to go to work. You have to get up early before your kids leave the house, and then you come back, maybe after they've come home or sometimes you get home together. 

[00:48:09] Adela Sealy: Full-time brings more money, but less time with your kids. Whereas part-time you have a little bit of financial stability, and be able to spend time with your kids.

[00:48:19] Adela Sealy: The full-time became more of an issue than um, the part-time cause part-time I was still able to maybe cook before I leave for work. So when they come home, there is a hot meal. Full time there was none of that. I think they really started missing me when I started doing full-time.

[00:48:37] Adela Sealy: I had support from extended family members and from school. So after school was my saving grace, because then they went to school, they left the house about 7:30, got in school, and then they came back home about 6:30. So they would spend like almost the entirety within the school walls. So that was one of the best things ever. And I was lucky to have extended family around where they could always have some adult in the home when I wasn't there. So I didn't have to worry about being able to pay childcare for my kids. 

[00:49:11] Adela Sealy: And then my oldest daughter, when they came home, she was there. When you get to a certain age, the oldest one kind of pick up the slack when mommy's not around. I think for me, that really helped because then I know they're home, somebody is there, helping out.

[00:49:26] Adela Sealy: The other thing is like, when they were younger and I was at home, I would help do homework, make sure they do their homework, go over it. But then when I started working full time, it would be, I would just ask the question, maybe sometimes I would look over it, and sometimes I'm too tired to even do anything.

[00:49:49] Taja Lindley: On the last episode you heard from Nikki Brown-Booker. 

[00:49:51] Nikki Brown-Booker: I am a person with a disability who has been an attendant user for pretty much, most of my life. 

[00:49:59] Nikki Brown-Booker: I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I was actually diagnosed at two years old, so I really grew up with a disability. RA really affects like your muscle, mostly affects your joints and it can be really painful and achy and those kinds of things.

[00:50:17] Nikki Brown-Booker: And as an adult my disease really went into remission. But every now and then I'd definitely have a couple of bad days or bad weeks here and there.

[00:50:27] Nikki Brown-Booker: Because I've been disabled since a young child, it's something that I've lived with most of my life and it's something that really kind of shaped how I see the world. It's my lens, that one of the lenses that I see from.

[00:50:39] Taja Lindley: Nikki Brown-Booker is the program officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. 

[00:50:45] Taja Lindley: In episode seven, she shared some insights about disability justice, and what it has to teach us about navigating this back to work moment during the pandemic. I invited her to share her voice here because she is an employer of domestic workers. 

[00:50:58] Taja Lindley: Thus far in this episode, we've covered a lot about the experiences of domestic laborers and some of the challenges they face as Black women in this labor market. And while many of us are all too familiar with the dynamics of Black women caring for white families, we don't hear too much about other folks who employ domestic laborers, namely women of color and people with disabilities.

[00:51:19] Nikki Brown-Booker: I employ six people right now. They're all women. Most of them are women of color. And their work really makes my life possible. Like, you know, they come in and they help me get out of bed. They help me take a shower. They make me breakfast, cook my dinner, help me get into bed, clean my house. You know, all the things that you would physically be able to do for yourself, I have people that- caregivers are come in and do that and assist me with those things. And if I didn't have attendant caregivers to do those things, I wouldn't be here right now and having this conversation with you, honestly.

[00:51:55] Nikki Brown-Booker: I have some people that have been literally been working for me for over 10 years. I have some people that have only been working for me for a year. They see me first thing in the morning when I first wake up and they're usually the last person I see before I go to bed.

[00:52:09] Nikki Brown-Booker: So you know, it's a very interdependent relationship where we really, I care for them and they care for me. 

[00:52:16] Nikki Brown-Booker: And most of my workers work for other people, not just for me. They have multiple attendant jobs.

[00:52:22] Nikki Brown-Booker: They're partially paid through like in-home support services, which is a state run program, which receives state and federal funding. And I also do employ them privately. I pay out of pocket for some of their work partially because I make enough money where the state won't pay for all of the care. So I have to supplement. I have a share of costs that I pay out of my pocket. 

[00:52:46] Nikki Brown-Booker: They're barely making minimum wage. And I can't afford to fully pay their, you know, pay their wage or their salary. If I could, I would. And you know, it's, it's unfortunate that it's a low wage job considering how much responsibility and really amazing work that they're doing. That can sometimes be a tension and a challenge. 

[00:53:08] Nikki Brown-Booker: It has definitely been frustrating to know that, you know, they're doing such an important job for me, and yet they're not necessarily getting paid what I think that they deserve to be paid.

[00:53:20] Nikki Brown-Booker: Also, there are things that I can't afford to pay for vacation time. I can't afford to pay for sick leave. They do get sick leave through the state. If they're not getting as good benefits through the state, I try to find ways in order to like supplement things.

[00:53:34] Nikki Brown-Booker: Like I give them bonuses. I try to be a really good employer and treat them, you know, with dignity and respect. And, there are challenges around the fact that, for some people, you know, they could literally go work at Starbucks and make more money and get better benefits.

[00:53:51] Nikki Brown-Booker: What really brought me to doing this kind of organizing work was just sheer maddening frustration of, having um, workers who were not getting paid what they deserved. And actually having workers quit uh, really good people that I loved having to quit because they couldn't afford to do the work.

[00:54:11] Nikki Brown-Booker: Um, because you know, they weren't being paid enough, they couldn't take a couple of days off to take care of their sick kid because they didn't, didn't have any type of paid time off or weren't even getting paid for overtime.

[00:54:24] Nikki Brown-Booker: So. You know, I just was like, so frustrated by this and just, you know, really upset that I was having really good people, people that did not want to leave, but had to leave because they had to support their families, themselves and their families. 

[00:54:38] Nikki Brown-Booker: So I heard about this organization called the Hand in Hand, the Domestic Employers Network. And that there was a newly formed group of employers that really wanted to make a difference in this market, this labor market.

[00:54:52] Nikki Brown-Booker: I think everybody deserves sick leave. Everybody deserves paid family leave. Everybody deserves to be paid overtime, get vacation pay and a living wage. And I would like to see policy and laws changed so that everybody, particularly domestic workers, get all of those rights. Cause right now they don't have all of those rights. 

[00:55:16] Nikki Brown-Booker: And if those things happen for them, it actually only makes the working relationship between them and their employer that employs them better. Because when my workers are treated with dignity and respect, that means that I'm also being treated with dignity and respect. 

[00:55:34] Taja Lindley: In the next episode, we'll talk more about labor organizing as well as the role employers have and continue to play in ensuring domestic workers are able to have labor benefits and protections that make a dignified workplace possible. 

[00:55:46] Taja Lindley: Before we go, I want to leave you with these words of wisdom from Allison. 

[00:55:50] Allison Julien: Care work is something that we all should value because we're all here because of care work. At some point in our life, we have all been the recipients of care work. 

[00:56:05] Allison Julien: As soon as you're finished listening to this podcast, think of all the care workers you know in your life.

[00:56:12] Allison Julien: This is a really good time to reach out to them to say, thank you. Say thank you to domestic workers that you know. 

[00:56:19] Allison Julien: And I encourage you as you think of domestic workers in your daily life, either on the train or on the bus, or as you're driving past them, think of them in terms of the way that they make all other work possible. And a simple thank you goes a very long way.

[00:56:38] Taja Lindley: There is so much more that our guests have to say. So stay tuned for part two of this conversation. And be sure to join the Patreon to hear all of the uncut interviews with each of our guests. These interviews will be available to listen to after part two of this series goes live. 

[00:56:54] Taja Lindley: I give thanks for your time, attention, and listenership. 

[00:56:57] Taja Lindley: If you are enjoying your experience, tell a friend and leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts or on our website. 

[00:57:04] Taja Lindley: If you'd like to share your story or perspective with us, write us a message or leave us a voicemail at Find us on Instagram @BlackWomensLabor and sign up for our newsletter to receive project updates in your inbox.

[00:57:18] Taja Lindley: And support this work y'all at 

[00:57:22] Taja Lindley: You can also support this podcast by dropping some coins in our PayPal or purchasing the podcast music on 

[00:57:30] Taja Lindley: This podcast is created and hosted by yours truly, Taja Lindley, also known as the HBIC. 

[00:57:38] Taja Lindley: Audio engineering by Lilah Larson. 

[00:57:40] Taja Lindley: Music by Emma Alabaster, who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer. 

[00:57:45] Taja Lindley: Additional music production by Chip Belton. 

[00:57:48] Taja Lindley: Vocals by Patience Sings. 

[00:57:50] Taja Lindley: Mixing and mastering by Chip Belton. 

[00:57:52] Taja Lindley: Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster. 

[00:57:56] Taja Lindley: Logo and graphic design templates by Homegirl HQ. 

[00:57:59] Taja Lindley: This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle and is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. 

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Nikki Brown-Booker

Program Officer

Nikki Brown-Booker is the Program Officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund at Borealis Philanthropy.

As a person with a disability and a biracial woman, she has devoted her work to advancing rights at the intersection of disability justice and racial justice. The daughter of a domestic worker who immigrated from the Philippines and a professional chef and a long-term SEIU member, Nikki was taught from a young age that justice is a human right. Nikki was the Executive Director for Easy Does It Emergency Services, a nonprofit that provides emergency services for people with disabilities and seniors in Berkeley, California. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Nikki continues to organize with Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, and helped pass the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 00:56:24

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Allison Julien

We Dream in Black Organizing Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Allison Julien migrated to New York City from Barbados in 1991 and has worked as a professional nanny for over 25 years before joining the staff of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2016.

For over a decade Allison organized domestic workers in New York City, she was a key leader in the six-and-a-half-year campaign for the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which resulted in a successful, historic passage in November 2010. Through this campaign, she learned the ropes of grassroots legislative lobbying in Albany, NY, and the value of coalition building and solidarity.

Since the bill’s passage Allison has supported thousands of domestic workers to learn about their rights, recover stolen wages and develop the skills needed for effectively enforcing their rights and negotiating better work standards that go above and beyond the law. Through her organizing, in August 2021 domestic workers were included in NY City Human Rights Law.

Allison was part of the founding of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, GA in 2007. In 2015, Allison was awarded NDWA’s Dorothy Bolden Fellowship. Currently, she is the NDWA We Dream in Black Organizing Director. We Dream in Black is a national initiative of NDWA and centers the leadership, voice, and power of black domestic workers across the country.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 01:41:59

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Adela Seally

Professional Nanny, Mother, Member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Adela Seally is a professional nanny and childcare specialist, and a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance - New York We Dream in Black Chapter. Before immigrating to the US, Adela worked as a preschool teacher, and she has since continued to build up her profession in childcare. With almost a decade in childcare experience, Adela is also a certified peer trainer in Effective Communication and Nutrition through the We Rise Program at Cornell University. In addition to her rich training background, Adela credits the love of children that she has learned as a proud mother of seven, for giving her a wealth of child caring knowledge and capacity. Her secret to having a good day is to “dance the stress away” to some beautiful music.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 00:59:38

Rose Gloria*


Rose Gloria* is nanny who has worked with over 50 families in the last 15 years. Her identity and voice have been changed to protect her identity.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 02:26:08

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Premilla Nadasen

Professor, Author

Premilla Nadasen is a Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is most interested in the liberatory visions and activism of poor and working-class women of color. She has been involved in social justice organizing for many decades and has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing.

She is the author of two award-winning books "Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States" and "Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement" and is currently writing a biography of South African singer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 01:05:28