This Is What Kim Kardashian Gets Wrong About People Earning Minimum Wage

Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images.
I'm going to start off by saying that even though I've never been a Kardashian-Jenner super fan, I have always respected their work ethic. Love them or hate them, you have to admit that the more rich and famous this family gets, the more things they seem to do. (Clothes! Makeup! Apps!) The Kardashian-Jenner clan could probably afford to take a break and chill for a sec, but that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. Because I know how they approach every new venture, I found it problematic that yesterday Kim Kardashian West shared on Snapchat a photo of a sign that reads, "You can't have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic." "Minimum wage work ethic"? Hold it right there, love. I get what she might have wanted to convey: Don't expect to achieve great things if you make a "minimum wage," as in tiny, effort, as opposed to thinking bigger, i.e., a "million dollar" attempt. But the truth is, her statement only feeds into the notion that people working minimum wage jobs are lazy, or that they earn so little because they don't want to find better jobs.
Snapchat via Kim Kardashian.
Which brings me to the next point: Kim Kardashian is privileged as fuck. We all know it. She was born into a wealthy family, she's built her own media empire to the point that her net worth is $51 million, and she shares her life with a man who is also wildly successful. That's precisely why Kim sharing that Snap is like a slap in the face to many. Yeah, she works hard. But she's never known what it's like to work all your days and still barely be able to earn a living wage. Her "inspirational" quote is dismissive of the hundreds of thousands of people who have a "million dollar dream" that they may never realistically be in a position to pursue. Just ask the 18-year-old student working at Staples. The young woman working in the healthcare industry. Or people like me, who at some point survived on $9 per hour and freelance work. Because the reality is that a lot of Americans are stuck with shitty wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 about 2.6 million workers made wages at or below of the $7.25 federal minimum. That's without counting the number of people who live in cities and states where the minimum wage may be higher than the federal standard, but not by a lot. (In New York City, for example, a minimum wage between $10.50 and $11, depending on the size of the employer, went into effect on December 31, 2016.) Even if people making $7.25 an hour worked 40 hours a week, they would only earn a meek $15,080 per year — before taxes. In New York, making $11 per hour? Just $22,880. It's not enough to live, really. Especially if you have to support a family. This issue also disproportionally affects women and people of colour. And while many of the people earning a minimum wage might be young and have fewer responsibilities, the reality is that a college student making minimum wage is not necessarily the same as a young mother earning that little money. So while Kim K's intentions might have been good, her post completely misses the mark. Implying that a "minimum wage work ethic" is somehow indicative of a lesser work ethic is clueless at best, and downright degrading at worst.

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