Am I Colonized?

elchiang's picture

Thinking back again to the chapter on Childhood and Postcolonization, I can’t help, but think how waste is also an example of how colonization still exists in our society. When the United Sates does not know what to do with all of their “stuff,” they just send it off to the Third World as a free gift. Not only is this unsustainable, but it is also perpetuating the power dynamic between the United States and other continents such as Asian and Africa. It is also ironic that the cycle is actually a cycle. Clothing, electronics, products are made by sweatshop workers or modern day slaves in factories in China or by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These products are then sent to the United States and Europe where marketers manipulate consumers into buying useless products that they will eventually dispose of in exchange for more useless goods. The products they are “useless” are then taken to thrift stores and second hand stores, which only end up selling one fifth of that back into the economy and society. Finally the cycle goes full circle as the United States then ships all of this clothing and electronics to the countries that made the products in the first place. At some point, even these countries do not even need the products since there are so many excess products.

            Perhaps this cycle is also perpetuated through the “culture of silence” that Freire discusses. Interestingly enough, the whole time that I read the Freire article, I kept thinking that I related to the “alienated man.” Westerners created this model minority stereotype for Asians in the United States so that they would keep silent. Calling Asians the model minority dangled a possibility of assimilation that really was the cause of their continual forever foreigner perception. Two years ago, Renewal College Fellowship rented the Bryn Mawr van weekly to go to church in West Philly. On their way to church one night, the brakes of the car stopped working, and they got into a severe car accident. Thankfully, none of the students were seriously hurt; however, Bryn Mawr Public Safety refused to pick them up, though the accident was a fault of a Bryn Mawr van, and nothing happened after the event. All the students, who were mostly Asian American, stayed silent. Why did they stay silent? Was this because of the stereotypes about submissive Asian women had seeped into their minds without them even knowing it? This accident was Bryn Mawr’s fault, yet nothing was done about it and Bryn Mawr vans are used multiple times a day, every week. I am interested to know if it would have become a big deal if these students were not also Asian American. I am curious to see if other minority students in the class relate to the Freire reading as well. I may tweet about it or bring it up in class.

            

Comments

alesnick's picture

culture of silence as model minority

Again, powerful and brave connections.  Thank you! I wonder if encoded silence is a condition of being "minority." 

pyiu's picture

"Clothing, electronics,

"Clothing, electronics, products are made by sweatshop workers or modern day slaves in factories in China or by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo." And being the great Americans we are, we simply send back torn tatters of things that they made with their hands, in their factories, thinking about how good we're being to them. It's funny how we think the very things they work for, that enslave them, are what they are in need of. 

Nevertheless, a friend brought up an interesting point the other day. Americans have horrible connotations associated with "sweatshops" but sometimes these sweatshops are what's keeping these people from even entering worse situations. How do we work to end this cycle...? 

In an attempt to take small steps to become a more conscious consumer I've been using Free2Work (http://free2work.org/) to see how much modern day slavery is in so much of what I buy. 

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