I just got my first smartphone, an iPhone 5s. Do you remember when you got your first smartphone and the way it altered your daily living experience? I had abstained for so long because I struggle enough to be “present” and “mindful” without a screen smack between myself and the world. But as a documentary filmmaker and aspiring smartperson, this smartphone thing is becoming handy.
On Monday, I attended an MLK Day rally for UPMC workers. UPMC is a $10 billion global health enterprise that unfortunately mistreats its employees. Despite its charitable “non-profit” status, 22 UPMC officials each make over $1 million a year. Meanwhile, many UPMC workers make only $10 per hour and struggle to survive. As the workers attempt to unionize and make living wages, UPMC has ceaselessly harassed and bullied them to try to suppress their voices.
Luckily, the Pittsburgh community at large (including Mayor Bill Peduto) stands strong with the workers. On this MLK Day, there was an awe-inspiring musical vigil in which hospital workers, union organizers, students, politicians, reverends, and rabbis, joined together in the streets, singing "We Shall Overcome."
I was so moved by the vigil that I instantly regretted not bringing my camera along. Oh wait! I realized. I have a smartphone.
The rally started at 10 am and by noon, I was editing footage on Final Cut Pro X. By 4pm, I was uploading a polished video to YouTube. The next day, my video “Faces of MLK Day 2014” was published on HuffPo, tweeted by Pittsburgh city councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, and shared on Facebook by the UPMC workers as they energetically planned their next rally.
Some workers cannot even afford the very health care provided by the hospital in which they work. In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” A lot of my film-advocacy work revolves around the fight for single-payer universal health care. I’m starting to believe that if we all point our smartphones between us and the world at the right times, a smarter system is bound to be on the way.
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