Kim K’s Snapchat - a perfect example of how privilege blinds to the struggle of minimum wage workers
In a perfect world, empathy and understanding would rule. There’d be no war, and certain celebrities wouldn’t think they were better than non celebs, because they earn more money.
Alas, this utopia is but a mere dream as Kim Kardashian showed again last week. The reality star has put her foot in it by posting a quote on her Snapchat account which perpetuates the idea that lower-income earners are lazy and have no desire to better themselves.
According to Refinery29, Kim recently posted a motivational quote on her Snapchat which states the following: “You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage ethic.”
While I agree with the author of that article and believe that her intention was probably to convey that you should dream big, but work hard, she does not take into account that many people, due to circumstances beyond their control, are unable to pursue their big dream(s).
In posting that quote, she’s also indirectly implying that people who earn less aren’t working hard enough to achieve their dreams.
Pardon me, but I’d like to take several tons of bricks and smash that idea to the ground immediately.
Kim Kardashian was born into a position of privilege. She, no doubt, is a hard worker, and has learnt how to market herself her products and her businesses over the years, but here’s the thing – she had a jumpstart that many people didn't have.
I’m not implying that you can’t build yourself up from the ground. On the contrary there're plenty of rags to riches stories that are incredibly inspiring and which serve as a reminder that achieving your dreams isn’t an impossibility.
READ MORE: 5 of the best rags to riches stories ever
But, Kim’s privilege blinds her to the everyday struggles of those whose socio-economic environment often leave them no choice but to take jobs with little pay. The disingenuousness of her post speaks of an assumption that people who earn little money are lazy and are in the position that they are because of that laziness.
I think one of the big reasons that Kim’s post upset me so much is because my colleagues and I have recently had an opportunity to volunteer to help with a housing project.
The aim of this project was to help build a house for one of the community members in an impoverished area. Our assignment was to help the builders on site as much we were able to, and let me tell you, it was hard labour.
We spent a few hours doing what these hard-working labourers do for hours on end, every single day, in the burning hot sun.
What’s worse is that because many labourers are informal contractors, the amount of money they earn per day is far below the spectrum of what they should be earning.
According to Payscale.com, the average national hourly rate construction workers earn, range between R11.08 – R32.50, which works out to so much more than that of informal workers, who sometimes earn up to only R80 a day.
The labourers we had the opportunity to work with are worth much more than that. The hours we worked served to show us what they have no choice but to go through in order to even put a single meal on their tables every day.
There is no evidence of a minimum wage ethic amongst these labourers. In fact, based on what we’ve seen, they work hard, fast and are thorough. Also, considering the project was for a member of the community, it’s also clear that building up and uplifting the community pretty much goes with their work ethic.
And this is exactly why the quote that Kim posted rankles. She was born with a golden spoon in her mouth and has no idea how the other half lives, and as far as we are aware, she has so far, shown no desire to understand the needs of people on the lower end of the wage spectrum and why their circumstances make it hard for any career advancement.
I remember reading about that episode on Keeping Up with the Kardashian when Kim was crying over the fact that she lost a diamond earring and older sister Kourtney chided her by reminding her that “there are people that are dying.”
Speaks volumes, don’t you think?
She’s also forgetting that amongst her fan base, there are thousands of people who earn incomes that are barely touching minimum wage level. And here in South Africa, there are families who are forced to live on R1050 social grants, not for lack of ethic, but because of their tough circumstances and lack of work opportunities.
No one is denying that Kim works hard (even though she was born wealthy), but to make that claim that minimum wage earning is tied in with minimum wage ethic is grossly presumptuous.