Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Red Carpet Of The Pink Slip

by L DeSilva-Johnson (writer), Brooklyn, NY, February 16, 2008


The Global Economy's Coy Vixen Gets White Glove Treatment: or, How Imperialism Traded in Colonialism for a Personal Invitation

While I was perusing the back pages of my local free paper my attention turned to the now-standard-fare "medical research" ads located there. As someone who has long known the Make-Rent-and-Bills-Hustle, there have been more-than-one-hand's-fingers times that I have considered these myself.

But both in real life and in fictional dramatization has this gone awry; the point is, you sign at the dotted line and if changes are irreversible, you have nothing on 'em...

In relation to this I couldn't help but thinking of the Tuskegee experiments. In the last few days I have mentioned this offhandedly and was suprised at the lack of common knowledge about this: for 40 years (1932 - 1972) the US PHS (Public Health Service) conducted experiments on Black/African-American men with syphilis, allowing these men to deteriote due to the disease while it took hold of their bodies and minds.

There was always a antidote.

But what's the connection? Well, in the beginning of those experiments, public sentiment on cultural/racial separation was very different than it is now. And for numerous, complicated reasons, as a country a narrative of 'cultural sensitivity' and the celebration of "diversity" has been drummed into our heads, from an early age.

These experiments were able to exist because of popular narrative. Of words that became truth. Of a scientific basis that "proved" inferiority and difference via biology that we are still working to reverse.

And now? what is the relevance? why talk about these ads? ... and... Imperialism?

You lost me/ I lost you...

Back up: a few year ago, while completing an Urban Design degree I was given the rare and unforgettable opportunity to go to Vietnam to propose and submit designs for a new satellite city to the capital (HaNoi) in preparation for an economic boom.

Very much in contrast to a US-hating Vietcong this government starves for attention and economic stimulus, and while in conflict with an idealistic/historically and "culturally" sensitive master plan the "nation" that is Vietnam craves legitimacy on a global economic stage and is willing to sacrifice much for it.

As the director of Planning told us, "When you are starving, you don't inquire how your food was cooked."

Basically, in fear of total annhiliation on the global economic stage, the country had begun to accept and invite economic stimulus packages/development in both the Corporate and Physical Environment camps to do what they would, finding ripe opportunity for manufacture and cheap labor outside the governance of national and UN labor laws.

The connection is, we continue to talk about the problem in the US that is racism, and what that creates in our lives today. And in terms of our policies abroad, we elicit and preach sensitivity while preying off of those with no choice -- and if we throw the question of Imperialism into the mix, don't we learn this?

War, Racism, and Colonization: all part of a big messy business, and we waste a lot of time Nominally "taking over" various countries and "like communities" by exerting our power over them by force. But if we become, not even necessarily allies but complicit pawns on the chess board we reinforce/reify the terms of the game they are playing.

Now that power is economic/global in form who are the subjects of Tuskegee? The poor. And now? It doesn't matter what color you are. You offer yourself up to experimentation because your options for employment (and forget about health and other insurance) are so dire that it seems a viable option, leaving the Lab Coats (and their funding sources) in the clear. Vietnam sends out a no-RSVP-necessary invitation to rape and spoil its lands and natural resources in the hope that other more prosperous countries will pay it heed.

Imperialism remains, laughing, with no need for antiquated Force: it is invited in for tea and crumpets, here and abroad.

(please stay tuned for what happens to me vis-a-vis Imperial -- I mean Patriot -- act...)

About the Writer

L DeSilva-Johnson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on The Red Carpet Of The Pink Slip

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By M.J. Hamada on February 16, 2008 at 04:24 pm

I like your meandering here, L.

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By L DeSilva-Johnson on February 16, 2008 at 04:25 pm

Yes -- it was one of those late night writing moments. I read it again this morning and considered taking it down but decided against it. Food for thought is still useful when flawed... no? However, if you think I was making a blanket racial argument I will delete it immediately, because this is a conversation about CLASS, and economic imperialism, which is incredibly, complexly perpetrated by persons of all colors and backgrounds, just as it effects the lives of millions and millions regardless of skin color.

Hopefully my main point comes across? -- in no way am I blaming Whitey, in NO WAY. I am saying that it is our class position/lack of access/financial insolvency that is changing our relationship to Power, and that we misconstrue this as political, racial, what have you. I am saying that we retain narratives of racism (among others) that were written and relevant in another time, and that these serve as a smokescreen to raceblind policies and moves across a worldwide financial landscape that absolve acts equivalent to Imperial and Colonial ones in the name of provision, development, and "aid."

Perhaps I shouldn't post in the wee hours. Thoughts?

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By Jen on February 16, 2008 at 05:13 pm

I always "sleep on it".

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By Lady D on February 16, 2008 at 09:59 pm

If we don't bring up questions we will never recieve answers.  " WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND IT IS US."

As long as we as humans see our differences, rather then our similarities, we will continue to exploit one another and the planet.

Thanks for your thoughts, thinking is good.

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