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Life and Debt

After watching the film Life and Debt, I was really disturbed with how the U.S. exploits Jamaica. This is a prime example of how rich countries (well we're not that rich anymore) go out and oppress poor countries whose populations are majority people of color. It shows how oppression and the intersection of class and race hurts people all over the world, not just in the U.S.

One thing that stayed with me after the film was how Jamaica's dairy industry was shut down because of the import of cheap powder milk from the U.S. Not only are people losing jobs because the industry was shut down, but locals of Jamaica are consuming milk that is not milk at all. It has no source of vitamins or anything to keep the body strong. So not only are these people left with no work, or means to health care or education, their source to healthy foods has been eliminated by policies that countries like the U.S. have pushed.

Having public policies that allow the oppression through exploitation shows the connection Jamaica has to African American slaves. A man from the movie noted that Jamaica is in millions of dollars in debt with the U.S. and have to do certain things, like give up certain rights, to help pay it off. This reminds me of the peonage or debt bondage system that white plantation owners bailed blacks out of jail (one example) only to have them work their debt off through free labor. What makes me even angrier is some believed that they were helping the blacks out of jail. But in reality they were back slaves. In the movie a white guy said that Jamaica could not function with its own agriculture and dairy markets, so the U.S is there to "help" them. All this is a modern way of keeping poor blacks from being self reliant and climbing the social ladder (oppression through race and class). Being forced in inhuman conditions with no source of benefits and very little pay, shows how the U.S takes advantage of people because they are a poor class and of an unprivileged race. It is easy for the U.S government to dip their nose in a second or third world country and use their people as slaves because they are of a different race and have no power because of their lack of wealth.

This film shows that the oppression faced by people of color, especially poor people of color happens everywhere. Its slavery with paper instead of the chains, and guess who’s the "master"?


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I do not think the U.S. currently exploits Jamaica because of race, but Jamaica is most definitely in its current economic situation as a result of history of colonization, imperialism, and race. When the British gave Jamaica its independence, it was not economically mature, forcing the nation to be financially bound to global institutions. I don't think Jamaica has every really received its freedom. I agree with Serina, that Jamaica is suffering a new kind of slavery.

I agree with Payman. I believe that Wealthy countries, through policies and
loan regulations, exploit poorer nations without discrimination. I find it
hard to believe that a government would seek out countries base off "race"
to exploit them. the only color governments see is green.

Further more it was not just the US. Jamaica was in debt to multinational
corporations, i.e. the world bank. there is enough blame to go around.

I was also disturbed to see how the milk production was affected in
Jamaica. Seeing the hand gather milk drained was heart breaking. more than
just the loss of valuable food it was a waste of work hours. (FYI powder
milk has dietary value similar to regular milk:calcium, all 20 amino acids,
and most of it is fortified with vitamins. so it can "keep the body
strong." although it does taste disgusting).

I do agree with you on U.S policies to use poor countries to their advantage but I do not believe it is because they are black or of another color; American system of accumulating wealth as long as international consensus goes is to oppress the poorer countries not necessarily because they are of different color but because they cannot pose any real power of their own and are dependant on other countries to help them take control of their political and economic situation.