When Donald Trump bullied Alicia Machado as “Miss Housekeeping,” it was meant as so much more than a personal, racist insult. He showed the contempt he has for the immigrant women who support their families as housekeepers and domestic workers, like my mom.
When I was a little boy, I kept the fact that my mom worked as a housekeeper from my friends. I was so afraid of being labeled “the poor Mexican kid”. It seemed like the kids at my grade school all lived in big houses and had parents who worked in nice offices. My mom worked cleaning them.
It took growing up for me to finally understand the meaning of the word “dignity”. My mother’s work has never been insignificant to her. It allowed her to support her family and kept her independent after leaving an emotionally abusive husband. Most importantly, she was happy. So why should it have ever been insignificant to me?
We know Donald Trump doesn’t value the dignity and work of immigrant women like my mom, even though he and his companies profit from their labor. In Las Vegas, it’s immigrant women who clean the rooms of his 64-floor-hotel, even though the multi-billionaire pays them $3 less an hour than most workers on the strip.
When some of these women attempted to unionize like 98% of other hotel and casino workers on the strip and win a fair wage, they were fired on the spot by Trump Hotel management. Let’s be real, Trump wouldn’t be able to run his hotels without thousands of “Miss Housekeepings” who work hard to make him money.
Not even immigrant women in more glamorous roles have been spared from his greed. As Miss Universe, Machado was contractually owed 10% of the earnings from her ads and commercials. “As Miss Universe, I participated in more campaigns than most,” she has said. “In a year, I earned the company a lot of money.” She was never paid.
What’s clear is that Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about hard work. Hard work is tending to the houses of others at the expense of your own. Hard work is cooking and feeding the children belonging to other mothers and not being able to see your own until late at night. Hard work is being seen as insignificant — or not being seen at all.
So when Donald Trump attempts to denigrate Alicia Machado as “Miss Housekeeping,” it’s personal. Donald Trump not only insults her, he insults me and the many other US citizens who call housekeepers and domestic workers our mothers. Our message to Donald Trump must be clear: we won’t forget, and we will vote.
I’m so proud of Alicia Machado and all the mothers, and I will proudly carry them in my heart when I cast my ballot on November 8th.