Fast food chains are an instantly recognizable symbol of American capitalism around the world. Like any capitalist corporation, they make their billions in profit at the expense of workers, animals, and public’s health.
In the wake of the 1968 Chicago riots, the Nixon administration began federally subsidizing fast food franchises. The belief was that funding black-owned fast food franchises would uplift low income communities and cure unrest. Nixon established the Office of Minority Business Enterprise in 1969, stating “What we need is to get private enterprise into the ghetto, and get the people of the ghetto into private enterprise—not only as workers, but as managers and owners.” Nixon’s vow to promote black capitalism, made a few rich but in turn led them to exploiting the very people they wish to help. The success of this model was lucrative for not only the fast food companies but the government too. The black capitalist class would serve as liaisons for the white bourgeoise, promoting their class interests as well as working to quell uprising within their own community. The operators of such franchises complained of racial redlining, stating they were never allowed to expand into more prosperous areas. The powers of capital were successfully able to strategically uplift a few black people in order to maintain order while simultaneously poisoning low income communities with food full of fat, salt, and chemicals.
Workers in the fast food industry earn notoriously low wages, and receive little to no benefits while CEOs rake in billions in profit. These workers have been at the forefront of the “Fight for $15”, fighting for a $15 federal minimum wage for nearly a decade. They are outraged by that fact that many politicians have been intent on the “bad choice” that poor people make by consuming fast food rather than raising the wages of the working poor.