“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?.
Because, you see, when white men talked about women – they only meant white women.
Carers these days may identify with Sojourner’s question. When she asked ‘Ain’t I a woman?‘ we may ask ‘Ain’t I a worker?’ When people talked of ‘women‘ to her, she knew they had a big, fat thought bubble that said “Oh, but not you. Goodness me no, I didn’t mean you.” And when people talk about workers, about people who work too hard for too little money, about people (from CEOs in big business to unionised workers) being ‘paid the market rate’, you know that it if you are a carer, they are not talking about you. Even if they couldn’t for one day do the work that you do, you are somehow not the workers that they mean.
Maybe we need a T-shirt with these words on it: “Look me in the eye and tell me I ain’t a worker“. Sojourner lived long enough to convince people of the justice of her cause. Let’s fight to make sure that we do too.