Nail Technicians

by Samantha Le about a year ago in industry

The Harassment that Needs to be Stopped

Nail Technicians

There's been a video going around on Twitter of a nail technician being verbally harassed by a White woman as she was getting her nails done. The video shows the woman stating that the nail tech needed to "learn English." The thing is, though, this is not an uncommon thing that is continuously going on every day.

As a daughter of nail technicians, I've watched my mother suffer through this type of harassment almost every day just because her English isn't as perfect as everyone else's or because her skills aren't up to the customer's pleasing. She ensures this because this is her only way of making an income. This is all she knows, and as an older woman, it's harder for her to drop her entire career and start a new one. Therefore, I believe that they deserve the utmost respect because they're using all their physical labor and strength to provide the services. I feel like it's time to share my parents' story and speak my mind about the abuse that they endured in order to give myself and my brother a better life and future.

My parents came to the United States when I was around five or six. We lived with my mother's aunt in Pasco, Washington. The area that we lived in was at least four hours away from Seattle, WA. There wasn't much for them to do to improve their English aside from learning from books or walk to a neighbor's house to study. Once my parents had learned enough basic English, they got their nail technician licenses and began working. But the closest nail salon was in Seattle, which resulted in them taking a bus every morning and every night back. The last bus back to Pasco from Seattle was at 7 PM, and nail salons usually don't close that early, which would cause them to have to wait for their uncle to drive all the way up to pick them up. This would continue for six months or so before we moved to Texas. It didn't get better once we've moved here, either. We had lived with my mom's cousins for a while, as they helped my parents get jobs at the nail salon they worked at. At this point, my parents were trying their best to pay rent, along with saving up to move out. My mom was still trying to improve her English and her skills, but her bosses had decided otherwise. They had threatened to throw my mom's license out onto the street, kick her out of the salon and verbally abuse her in the middle of the salon in front of customers and other staff members. I've watched my mom cry for weeks because of this treatment. She wanted to give up, she had had enough and was ready to quit. Although it's been years since this incident, there are still days where she got mistreated because of something the customer didn't like. She gets belittled because the services aren't up to their standards, her strength used in the massages isn't strong enough or the requested services can't be done. She comes home from work tired and exhausted every day, but she continues to work a 12-hour shift, sometimes with little to no food for 6 days a week. She'll be 51 on June 17. She's been doing this for more than 10+ years, enduring the hardship that she faced in order to provide for me and my brother, along with our schooling and extra expenses. I've watched my mom cry countless times because of what customers have said to her, the slow winter seasons where she's afraid she won't make enough to pay off bills, how tired she is from working long tedious hours without food because of the constant flow of customers coming in and out, her health slowly deteriorating due the chemicals she's exposed to and so many more. She puts up with this because it is part of the job. It is the only job she knows. Her English has drastically improved since she's first came to the U.S until now, but she still lacks a college education so she can't just drop her current job to find a new one in a better environment. And even if she did, I still think she would still be ridiculed because her English isn't as fluent as her coworkers.

I think it is beyond ridiculous that there are customers that go into a predominantly Asian nail salon and harass them for not being able to speak a language. You cannot go to a foreign place anywhere in the world and expect them to know the English language. Despite it being the most universal language in the world, people are still going to speak their native language no matter what because it's what they know and is used to. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, most of the workers in there are going to be speaking Chinese. It shouldn't matter if the staff doesn't speak the language you're used to, they're there to do their job. Their job is to provide you with a service, not get yelled at for not knowing a language. If speaking the same language is required, then there are also plenty of other nail salons that are White-owned or their workers are more fluent in English. Workers who speak another language are constantly being harassed because they do not speak the same language or being told they need to "go back home". My mom does not deserve the hassle she faces. No one deserves this kind of hassle. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect because they're still human. They have feelings and they are going to take those words to heart. I believe that anyone in the labor industry deserves just as much respect as we give doctors and nurses.

The conclusion to this is that I'm tired of seeing labor workers being mistreated by people who feel they are entitled to ridicule others because they believe they're not as equal to them. I feel that we should stand up for labor workers that are being harassed. They deserve to be treated the same as everyone else, the respect, the kindness, the professional relationship. They deserve to be treated just as we would treat someone in a higher position and we should stand up for them if we see them being mistreated.

industry
Samantha Le
Samantha Le
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