Saturday, January 30, 2021

Amanda Gorman -- the sun coming up, shining

Words matter. 

On January 20, 2021 -- words written and spoken by a 22-year-old Harvard grad poet lifted us up. Weary from weeks of pain and division, we were rallied by her to rise and climb. (photo below by Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Her presentation was impeccable. She uses her hands like a hula dancer when she speaks. She is in the tradition of sacred story tellers. She even wore the statement colors of Yellow and Red. In ancient Hawaii, those colors could only be worn by the ali'i (royalty). This is my own years of living in Hawaii imbuing her performance with this layer of meaning. But is it really impossible to see her as a Hawaiian warrior princess in that moment?

More on those royal Hawaiian color traditions here:

photo below from Bishop Museum website shows the ahu'ula (royal cloak or cape) of King Kamehemeha I, made with feathers of rare birds (yellow feathers from Mamo and red feathers from I'iwi birds).

Poet Gorman found herself called to this moment by Dr. Jill Biden, who saw her at a previous event. Gorman also had a prior connection with Prada, the fashion house that designed her epic yellow coat.

Gorman's stunning performance was followed by interviews, profiles, and new opportunities. She already had two books finished and set to be released in early 2021.

Here are some excerpts:

about the coat..

"Perhaps the biggest statement was a bright-yellow jacket from the designer Miuccia Prada.

…..Jill is the reason Gorman landed her role as an inaugural poet. In 2017, Jill first came across Gorman from a video of her performance of "In This Place: An American Lyric," at the Library of Congress.

When Jill saw her stunning performance, it left a lasting impression. According to Vogue, so did Gorman's dress. In the video, Gorman was wearing a similar bright shade of yellow.

When people were discussing an inaugural poet for January, Jill reached out to Gorman to ask if she'd be willing to write and recite an original poem for the inauguration. She also added that she had loved her dress's color from the 2017 performance.

 "She said, 'I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it,'" Gorman told Vogue…..Gorman stepped onto the stage wearing the brightest color of the day. Her sunshine yellow coat likely signified joy — a feeling some people across the country were feeling this afternoon.

To Jill, the coat's color likely felt familiar as it was the same shade Gorman wore in the video where Jill first saw her perform……

According to Vogue, Gorman intentionally chose a look by Prada.

Prada has a long history of strong feminist statements, which Gorman admires, per Vogue.

According to Prada's website, Gorman's coat was on sale for $1,666.37 and it originally sold for $2,777.28. The coat was sold out at the time of writing."

About her red headband

About her books (from indie bookseller Titcomb's Bookshop's Facebook page):

“We were so touched and inspired by Amanda Gorman's poetry today. We had the news on in the office and out in the shop, and we all stopped our work and just watched this young woman in awe. If you're wondering whether Gorman is coming out with any books, she is! Her book of poetry ( and her children's picture book ( are coming out in September of 2021, and you can pre-order them now!”

Interviews and more articles here:

Backstage photo of the entire outfit... 

from this site:

additional photos...

video of her reading her poem (PBS News Hour/You Tube)

Full text of her poem:

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Inauguration Fashion Statements -- art in action

 Artists were involved in the amazing fashion looks at the Inauguration. 

Posts and art tributes exploded online celebrating the women, their outfits, and the excitement of the moment.

Why get so worked up about coats and dresses??? Because fashion has impact and historical importance.  Armor has evolved. What is worn projects intention. Bright colors are bold choices. (art below by Glen Hanson

For this year, the choice of purple was often cited for its blend of blue and red. 

White was a nod to suffragettes. 

Dr. Jill Biden's evening coat and dress (designed byGabriela Hearst) included a salute to state flowers from every US state and territory.

And who can forget the star making moment of poet Amanda Gorman. Her words were powerful. Her bright yellow coat announced her arrival like the sun coming up.

Her "look" commanded attention. She became the guiding light for the hill her poem challenges us climb with her. And by the way – it was a Prada coat and sold out immediately. (more on her outfit and impact in this post: )

Designing the outfit for a First Lady has always been an historical moment. From the selection of the designer, to the fabrics and fittings, the outfit is destined for the moment and later for the Smithsonian.

This year, we also had the first woman Vice President sworn in. Wearing a purple topcoat. A solid column of strength in hue that exists because it is blended from primary colors of red and blue.

I’ll be updating this post as I find more articles and images to add. 

For now… enjoy these celebrations of an epic moment during a difficult era.

Articles with more info on the outfits....

Teen Vogue


WWD (Women's Wear Daily)

another genius design moment was the choice of flags along the mall. The movement and color suggested crowds without the risk of a large gathering during Covid.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

AB 5 and Prop 22 "indie contractor" law updates for 2021 (updated 1.28.21)

 California's "freelancer" laws continue to impact lives of indie artists and other indie contractors.

AB 5

AB 5 went into effect Jan 1, 2020. It has undergone several revisions. It's still a mess and there is talk of repealing it -- but given everything else going on in the world, that's on the back burner.

Here's a commentary from a CA law firm (

Get ready for 2021! A roundup of new California

employment laws

By Hillary Baca and Seth Neulight

"Californians have faced significant challenges in 2020, from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting
economic shutdown, to raging wildfires and social unrest. Still the legislature produced a
substantial number of new employment laws that will impact employers in the Golden State. Here
is a roundup of these laws, which, unless indicated otherwise, will take effect on January 1, 2021.
AB 2257 — Amendment of AB 5 Independent Contractor Classification Law
AB 2257, which took effect on September 4, 2020, amends the AB 5 law governing classification of
independent contractors. AB 5 codified the so-called “ABC” test for determining whether a worker
is an independent contractor. Under that test, a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the
hiring entity establishes three factors: (A) “[t]he worker is free from the control and direction of
the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract … and
in fact”; (B) “[t[he worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s
business”; and (C) “[t]he worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade,
occupation, or business of the same nature” as the work performed for the hiring entity. AB 5
exempted many occupations and service providers from the ABC test, and made them subject to
the more flexible, multi-factor Borello test instead.
AB 2257 retains the ABC test, but adds to the long list of occupations exempt from it, including but
not limited to: performance artists, songwriters, and others involved in “creating, marketing,
promoting, or distributing sound recordings or musical compositions”; other creative workers who
provide services under contract, i.e., “freelance writer, translator, editor, copy editor, illustrator[,] or
newspaper cartoonist”; insurance underwriting inspectors; a “manufactured housing salesperson”;
licensed landscape architects; real estate appraisers; and home inspectors, among others.
AB 2257 also recasts and clarifies exemptions from the ABC test that existed in AB 5 for businessto-business relationships, referral agencies, and professional services"

Also links for the current list of excemptions from the law

and the law as it stands now.

Previous posts on AB5 on the blog:

Prop 22

Prop 22 was richly funded by companies like Uber, Lyft, Door Dash etc. Prop 22 passed, but I really wonder if folks who voted "yes" really understand what they were supporting. With the succesful passing of Prop 22, the companies that backed it are looking to unleash it in other states. 

Here's a recent LA Times article about the fall out that happens with Prop 22 in effect -- fulltime jobs w/ better pay and better benefits lost.


"Those who warned that California’s anti-labor Proposition 22 would hasten the destruction of good jobs and the rise of gig work have a new data point to cite, courtesy of the Albertsons grocery empire.

As of the end of February, hundreds of home delivery drivers for Vons, Pavilions and other stores owned by the Boise, Idaho, chain will no longer be employed by Albertsons.

Their work will be outsourced to the gig delivery company DoorDash, which has made a nationwide deal to take over the service.

Albertsons says the transition is national in scope and has nothing to do with California’s Proposition 22.

But make no mistake. Proposition 22, which passed in November with a $206-million war chest from ride-hailing and delivery companies, made this change almost inevitable in California.

With contributions totaling $52.1 million, DoorDash was the second-largest backer of the Proposition 22 campaign, just behind Uber, which put up $59.2 million.

Proposition 22 makes it virtually impossible for regulators to scrutinize wages and hours and other working conditions at the gig companies. Without a change in federal law, their workers will be barred from organizing a union. They’re not entitled to unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation.

“This is what we predicted would happen with Proposition 22,” says Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation. “We could see it coming 100 miles away.”

UPDATE 1.14.21

New lawsuit to stop Prop 22 has just been filed.

Excerpt from LA Times article above:

"Scott A. Kronland, an attorney representing the union and drivers, argues that Proposition 22 infringes on the California Constitution — which it does not have the authority to do, since it was introduced through the ballot measure process as a statutory initiative, rather than as a constitutional amendment.

“They overreached,” said Kronland, who works for the San Francisco law firm Altshuler Berzon. “The language of the California Constitution is very clear” on the powers allocated to elected officials, he said.

The lawsuit, Proposition 22’s first legal challenge, comes just weeks after the new law went into effect.

Proposition 22 was bankrolled by Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies seeking a carve-out from a sweeping state labor law that required the companies to classify their large numbers of workers as employees instead of independent contractors. It became the most expensive ballot measure in U.S. history, and cruised to a victory with 58% of the vote.

The bold move allowed some of the world’s most recognizable gig platforms to dodge an overhaul of their business models in California, a huge market, and continue to rely on relatively cheap workers without offering the slate of benefits and protections afforded to employees.

Labor law experts say other states are looking at the California gig-work model. And although Proposition 22 mandated some new benefits for gig workers in California, the added cost to the companies may be creating a race among them to keep their user prices competitive in a way that workers worry might jeopardize their earnings. The pandemic has put a fresh spotlight on the law, with grocery shoppers and meal-delivery drivers recognized as front-line essential workers…....

....The California Supreme Court will need to decide whether to hear the case. If it decides not to hear it, the case would have to be refiled in a lower court and work its way up. There is no deadline for the Supreme Court to act on the petition. Attorneys arguing the case said at Tuesday’s news conference they expected to hear within a few weeks.”

UPDATE 1.18.21

NY Times Op-Ed  "Gig Workers are Employees. Start Treating Them That Way."

Long Excerpt:

"One of the nation’s largest grocery chains, Albertsons, announced this month that it would replace many of its staff delivery drivers with independent contractors working for the delivery service DoorDash. Those contractors will not receive important labor protections that have been provided to the full-time employees they will be replacing.

For years, companies and legislators have debated whether so-called gig workers like those who drive cars for Uber or deliver groceries for DoorDash should be entitled to benefits like minimum wage and unemployment insurance. But in the wake of a California ballot proposition passed in November and a rule just released by the Trump administration, it appears that the erosion of labor protections is advancing aggressively….

 ….App workers need the same benefits afforded to traditional workers, including payment for time between assignments, unemployment benefits and the right to organize. The pandemic, which greatly worsened conditions for delivery workers and “shoppers” (the people assembling grocery orders), has exposed just how vital basic protections are for vulnerable workers.

In ongoing research with colleagues at Northeastern University, one of us, Dr. Schor, analyzed a delivery platform that converted its California workers to employees before the passage of the 2019 law. Both top and middle management said they felt positively about the switch, citing improved performances and increased productivity that partly offset the costs of employment protections.

In ethnographic research on Uber and Lyft ride-hail drivers, Dr. Dubal found that, contrary to the companies’ promises of freedom and flexibility, longtime drivers feel trapped in grueling work schedules and controlled by their algorithmic bosses. Notably, these findings undermine Uber and Lyft’s arguments against employment status.

In a bad omen for workers outside California, Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of Uber, has vowed to support efforts similar to Proposition 22 elsewhere. Lyft, a competitor, is behind political action committees that will support candidates who will protect its business model. Shawn Carolan, a venture capitalist whose firm has invested in Uber, has written that the Proposition 22 model should be extended to other industries, such as education, health care and computer programming — which would increase the number of Americans who toil without a safety net or predictable earnings.

In some sense, gig-economy companies have been moving in parallel with Washington. The Trump Labor Department this month released a rule, set to go into effect in March, that will make it easier for companies to designate their workers as independent contractors.

But the incoming Biden administration can undo the rule. And working with Congress, it can move to dignify app-deployed work by calling it what it is: employment."

UPDATE 1.28.21

"Prop 22" op-ed by Rachel Chui, Daily Breeze

Excerpt: "Assembly Bill 5 codified the ABC Test, which was first introduced in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. These metrics were designed to be more predictable, consistent, and simplistic than the Borello Test. Under the ABC Test, app-based companies would have been required to classify their workers as employees and ultimately forgo the defining features of gig employment. After losing in the courts, these companies turned to voters as a last-ditch effort.

The Yes on Prop 22 coalition, funded by companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, poured over $200 million into its campaign to “save app-based jobs and services.” The coalition warned that if the ballot measure did not pass, gig apps would have higher prices and workers would be laid off. Despite passing Proposition 22, Californians are still experiencing these economic woes.

In order to garner more votes, app-based companies promised better compensation, health benefits, and civil rights protections for gig workers, even though such guarantees necessitated more fees and changes. By doing so, gig work began to resemble traditional employment, rather than an alternative work arrangement.

But saying “no” to Proposition 22 would not have yielded better outcomes. Classifying gig workers as employees would have resulted in a greater erosion of choice, flexibility, and autonomy, if not a complete discontinuation of services in the state.

The ballot measure was never intended to fix antiquated employment classifications. It was a direct response to the ABC Test which, rather than sort through the nuance of gig work, hastily classified these workers as employees."