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December 4, 2008

Life and Debt in Jamaica

In my mind Jamaica has been this idyllic paradise; a place of good food, great music, kind people and unbeatable scenery. I have had friends that have visited come back raving that Jamaica was heaven on earth. The photos have made me want to give up my life in the States and move there so that I can live in a bungalow near the beach and work surrounded my nature. This movie, in about two seconds, crushed all of these dreams and showed me that my desire was based on an idea constructed through movies, romanticizing of the music and the tales of tourists. The reality, the life that the natives face every day, is as ugly as the environment is beautiful. In the past four decades, no new hospitals have been built! The children are educated in buildings that are literally crumbling around them. The large farming industry is in peril, as their produce can only be sold in the UK and the locals are forced to buy foreign foods because they cannot afford the produce locally grown. Jamaica continues to collect debt. At the time the film was made they were 7 billion dollars in debt. The problem, however, is cyclical and cannot be easily fixed. Their debt increases with every year, leaving them without enough money to buy machines, build new hospitals, or provide a good education for its citizens that would offer the resources to successfully pull themselves out of the recession. An example of this is that farmers are still using machetes on their farms whereas most people in the rest of the world have upgraded to machines. It is impossible and unrealistic to assume that the two are compatible.
I am absolutely mystified that I could have had such a misconstrued perception of this place. I am also shocked at the trend I am noticing that many of the most visually stunning places in the world seem to have been possessed by the powerful Anglo-Saxon countries and when that country releases them to independence they are unable to begin with a concrete focus and the result leads to chaos. From an individual standpoint, I am not sure how one is suppose to help. Is it by education the public about the despair that the country is in? is it by buying food from Jamaica to support the farming industry when you can? Is it by boycotting Chiquita and Dole products that inhabit the majority of sales? It is very difficult to watch a video like this and not be faced with some sort of conclusion, some concrete way to personally address the issues you have seen in your own life. However, I imagine that this is just my own personal desire to have a clean, neatly wrapped solution so that I can sleep better at night and not feel so guilty. However, the hard truth is that there isn’t one.

December 5, 2008

Life and Debt Jamaica video

The video we watched yesterday in class was a huge eye opener in seeing what life is really like in Jamaica. At the beginning of the film the narrator said "You can imagine yourself under the sun laying in the beach" or something along those lines, and I was thinking "Yes, I can, that sounds fantastic." But shortly into the film we began to see how the Jamaican people live, and immediately we feel guilty for our pleasure vacations. It was crazy to see the contrast between the lifestyles of the Jamaican people and the tourists. First the film shows all of these chunky white people getting drunk and dancing around on the beach like idiots, then we see the Jamaican people and see how they are living. The narrator said how we as tourists would see the people and think "they are so laidback," but in reality they have no escape from their lifestyle and they envy us because we actually have the opportunity to be able to take a break from our routine life and go on vacations. This video discusses how U.S. policies have destroyed the economy of Jamaica and how they are so deeply in debt. Their financial crisis keeps getting worse and worse, and according to the film is due to the world bank policies. Unemployment is increasing in Jamaica because they cannot compete with the farming techniques of other countries. They can not afford to buy equipment, and must get the crops by hand. Goods are being sold at cheaper prices in the U.S., so the Jamaican people can't sell their goods because they won't get money for them. One farmer produced I think cherry tomatoes and the American client he was trying to sell them to said that they didn't meet specifications. Because of this he had to get rid of all of them. Another man was going to sell 5 days worth of milk, but the milk was needed because the U.S. had enough, so they had to dump all of that milk. After watching this video, I still think that tourism is okay because I think that it is providing quite a few jobs for some Jamaicans. But I think that we need to realize the issues that are going on in some of the poor countries we go to visit. I'm not quite sure what we as individuals can do about Jamaica's economy, but there are ways we can help out. I know that other countries that used to be colonies are now suffering economically as well. I went to the Philippines last year, not for vacation, but as a missions trip to help out some of the poorer people there by giving them food, and assisting in free medical clinics. The film also talked about how Jamaica barely has any hospitals. They don't have the security of knowing if they get hurt, there is a hospital or medical clinic near by to help them out. It is sometimes so easy to forget about some of the problems that are occuring outside of our own lives, and to think only about ourselves and how we live. But just imagine yourself being in the situation some of these people are in, they are struggling to survive, they don't have good health care, and their economy keeps going down and down.

December 6, 2008

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"?

Turning a [Black] Blind Eye on [Our] Red Problem!

"Because of our homosexuality the Black community casts us as outsiders. We are the poor relations, the proverbial black sheep, without a history, a literature, a religion, or a community" (Gender Talk, 174).
~Joseph Beam, gay activist writer

For my final paper, I will be writing on the contributions, to homophobia discourse, of Black Nationalism and the Black Church. I will show how these two communities expose the greater Black community to homophobia by comments. From rappers utterances of "faggot," to Fire and Brimstone Reverends judging deeming homosexuals to hell! Furthermore, I will demonstrate the blind-eye aspects of this wide-spread oppression; by these prominent figures within the Black community focusing on the dehumanization of a sector of its community, they are blinding most of its people from "actual problems."

For example: HIV/AIDS within the Black community. I watched a documentary on HIV/AIDS, namely A Closer Walk, and did some research. It stated following:

~AIDS is the leading killer of African Americans aged 25-49 years old.
~50% of all new AIDS cases are African Americans
~About 60% of all women infected with HIV/AIDS, are African American women.

Question: Is the hatred of a people-homosexuals- more important to US (Blacks and their allies) than given our people life, by acknowledging this nuisance called HIV/AIDS?

It hurts my heart to know my mother, 8 younger sisters, my cousins, Aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friends, great aunts, and the rest of my family, including myself, are all up against such a destroyer.

A great many people within the African American community chooses to write HIV/AIDS off as a "gay disease." If you look at the aforementioned statistics, you will read: "About 60% of all women infected with HIV/AIDS, are African American women." In no way am I glamorizing this fact, however we as a community needs to re-write our priorities.

This stigma is secretly destroying the Black community! Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver described one of his AIDS-ridden cousin's last moment on earth (A Closer Walk): "He was so ashamed to go to his own Church. He went to an abandoned apartment, and wrapped himself in a blanket to die." This man's was so afraid to seek help from his own church, because of the stigma within the Black Church, and the greater Black community.

It is about time we act! Not just act-we need to start talking! There's a man named Ron McMillian Kansas City. He and his associates talk tables to busy blocks, and hand out contraceptives, and other preventative/safer-sex related materials. He talked about how he did not judge people's actions. He referenced how he gave pimps condoms, despite his personal objections to their personal actions.

It is about time the Black community adopt Ron McMillian's ideology. This HIV/AIDS can be tamed; if and only if, out Black Nationalists and the Black Church cease to preach/promote Black homophobia, and move towards a unified movement against homophobia-as the late, Mrs. Coretta Scott King suggested. Furthermore, by unifying and not promoting this oppression of our own people, we will grow stronger in HIV/AIDS awareness, and a cure for AIDS!!!!!

Budget Making

Budgets are an important part of who we are, and an important tool in becoming what we want to be. While budgets and budget making are complex, everyone benefits from transparency. The class discussion of budget making in Minnesota was something that I never spent time to think about in the past. I guess I took public services such as healthcare, education and highway construction for granted. Minnesotans pay taxes to the government, so they can afford to provide these services. I found it challenging to decide what should or shouldn’t be included in the budget. This budget should includes expenditures for education, roads and bridges, technology, health care, public safety, housing, natural resources, agriculture, economic development, higher education, as well as dollars to state agencies, and local units of government.
I believe that most of the money should be invested in education and creation of jobs especially during these tough economic times where schools and jobs are shut down leaving Minnesotans jobless and without education. A budget that invests in job creation would at least create stability in our economy. If all of us lose our jobs at this time, then whose going to pay taxes that would be required in the next state budget? Investing in job creation program as well as education should be the first to be included in the budget.
With each passing month we hear more and more about the strain so many homeowners experience as a result of disastrous sub-prime lending. This budget should provide much-needed assistance to those who face losing their most important investment, a home. During the group discussion we all agreed that the best chance to save their house is with committed financial and legal help. With the help of dedicated professionals, it is our hope that we can help families keep their dreams of homeownership alive. By taking action to help hardworking residents keep their homes, Minnesota can lead the way in addressing what has become an economic nightmare.
The Clean Water Referendum on the ballot should also be included in the budget. I still don’t know why we had to vote for upgrade and repair of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. This referendum helps better our environment as well as it was estimated that the funding would support 12,000 jobs.
I don’t think it’s appropriate to have our hard earned money used to build stadiums or recreational places such as parks. We are all going through a tough time and investing our money on non-basic needs would be a bad move.

Life and Debt

It was amazing to me to watch Life and Debt.... this was not the first time watching it for me. I actually have seen it now three times and each time I am left with a sense of injustice and sadness and anger. I realize each time as I watch the film how privileged I am as an american and how western countries are placing a new form of colonization onto global south countries. Tariffs, privatization, devaluing money and demand exports are all forms of regulation on the country that keep them in their place and hold keep them without power. The effects of structural adjustment programs are profound on a nation....it claims to help but in the end it just continues to run them in an unending circle.

The crazy part is that Jamaica is one of many countries where SAP are running wild. Where countries like ours are making profit on the exploitation of others. Yet, we idly stand by as great consumers of the United States.... buying anything and everything we can get our hands on-- bananas at anytime of the year, coffee from worlds away, clothes made in countries we can't even point out on a map--it is a commodity fetish as Marx would say. Products void of their history--not knowing where anything comes from, consuming without a ounce of thought. The big-bad-guys are to blame, that is for sure but as individuals we have to start stepping up and taking responsibility for our own actions and how we play into the very system we so easily try to oppose.

Poverty Now vs. 1950

Urban poverty has been a very, very eminent problem in the urban areas of the United States for a very long time. The poverty has not changed, it is the reason for the poverty. The reading from the Ore selection this week was very interesting. It discussed how the reason for poverty has made a shift to a far worse reason that is not so correctable. While poverty used to be caused by people not working or working for little wages, now it is caused not by invididual ‘joblessness’ but by city ‘joblessness’. In the 1950s there were many people in urban Chicago that lived in poverty, but most of them had jobs that just didn’t pay them very much. William Wilson, from the Ore collection, informs us that that has changed very much. “In 1990, for example, only one in three adults ages 16 and older held a job in the ghetto poverty areas of Chicago, representing roughly 425,000 men, women, and children.? (Ore 354)

There are many problems that come along with the fact that the city is now incapable of offering these people jobs. The major problem discussed by Wilson is crime. There is no doubt that the lack of jobs definitely has an effect on an increase in crime. Now these people, living in poverty, have no means of income, and a lot of time on their hands. The only way to stop this crime is to create jobs in the community because citywide ‘joblessness’ is a dangerous source of poverty.

“Many of today’s problems in the inner-city ghetto neighborhoods – crime, family dissolution, welfare, low levels of social organization, and so on – are fundamentally a consequence of the disappearance of work.? (Ore 355)

Globalization & Social Change Make Life A Debt in Jamaica

Watching Life & Debt in Jamaica brought out how a society can feel on globalization and social change. Those terms are detrimental to society today as we continue through the era of technology. One has to think, where are we going to go from here? How can you surpass a dependency on technology & in turn, will the use of electronics decrease? Will that decrease bring back the job opportunities that have been lost over the years because of the numerous systems that perpetuate inequalities? These questions need to be answered as they continue the cycle of how the world will progress.

The film projected how the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have such a lock & hold over different countries – focusing on Jamaica. The representative stated, “Jamaica was not a country that could survive on its own merit?. How can that be proven when sources like the World Bank & IMF are blocking the opportunity for them to build their own economy & support WITHIN their country? The numerous imported products being sold cheaper than those from Jamaica itself exploit their agriculture. The exploitation is visual & devastating. The food & labor that is being wasted can become produce that could possibly be transported to other countries to help ease their starvation rates & also bring in revenue for Jamaica to pay off its debt. The source that could bring about a solution may be taking the readings and information that we learn & pushing it forward & doing something to change what is around us. Everyone could help through community involvement & being in tuned with the political & economic standpoints of those in power. Capitalism is a means of overproduction & this has become an era where so much is being made that oil prices are dropping & there is enough food to feed everyone – nothing is being done about it because no one wants to pay for another’s ills (i.e. the issues with health care, welfare programs, unequal education opportunities).

These specific inequality-describing terminologies can also be found in the film When The Levees Broke. That film showed a disparity so deep & devastating, it was hard to not shed a tear. An image was sent via email to the class showing the different descriptions used to explain why individuals were wadding through the water with carts of food/survival needs. As mentioned earlier, systems are used to continuously perpetuate inequality & to send out the message that they (people in power, our ‘masters’, the elite, the upper class, etc) want to portray. It was over five days before the survivors of Hurricane Katrina received any word of help coming & the image only recorded the desperate & vulnerability that those citizens/individuals felt.

In conclusion, what is this world going to do next? Who will be the elite/upper class representatives to control the ‘others’ – will there still be a division of classes if capitalism ceases to exist? What are you going to contribute in order to change the inequalities of the world? Please comment below!

December 8, 2008

Water as a human right!!!!

Globalization. As a Global Studies student the meaning of this word is a constant struggle. I have tried so desperately to clinch onto the idea that we are moving faster and faster closer to the close knit, fair trade, cultural exchanging, global community that might have a new future. However all I can see lately is this community that takes the voices from the few and implements laws that push the agenda of the few. It is not cultural exchange but rather cultural domination and hegemony. Fair trade is a myth that has to stay alive so that the weak don’t lose hope or worse rebel. The documentary that we watched this week “Life and Debt? has made me think about the countless human rights violations that are justified by Wallstreet and economist as market driven Economy. One of these violations I wanted to talk about in this blog is Water. I am sure you all heard about the leading concerns of the water industry. I mean we all know that we shouldn’t buy plastic bottles, or support bottle companies that kill of the sovereignty of weaker nations, however this issues goes so much deeper. Can you afford to live? This question seems absurd and unreasonable in our contemporary community. It is well established and affirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) that every human has a "right to life", this means that no human can be deprived of the elements that make life possible. What happens if the government or a corporation asks: "Can you afford to drink?" For 1.1 billion people in the world the answer to this question would be, "NO". The global society is constantly being challenged by war, diseases, and the collapse or instability of states. However in the 21st century, with the realization that water has become a finite resource, it is the lack of fresh water that concerns most nations. With the combination of pollution, population growth, and climate change the water cycle has been damaged and water scarcity has become an increasing threat to many nations. Water is essential to every aspect of human life; our health and welfare depend on it. What happens if it isn't made available to us. It is essential that water is seen as a human right rather than a commodity. With the help of privatization of water sources, water has changed from a human right into a human need. Thru the process of Globalization countries are made to believe that water is a good that is supposed to be provided by the most competitive company, rather than the local government.

The privatization of water, which allows companies such as Coca-Cola to extract large amounts of ground water for a minimal price, is leaving the Indian people without access to water. The communities surrounding the 52 Coca-Cola bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages thought to be caused by the massive extraction of ground water by cola companies. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India has conducted studies that confirm a significant depletion of the water table in the areas surrounding the bottling plants. One example is Rajasthan, India, where the CGWB found water tables had dropped 10 meters within five years of Coca-Cola starting bottling operations in Kala Dera, Rajasthan (India Resource). In another study of water conditions in eight villages within a three kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdianj found the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since Coca-Cola began operations in the area (India Resource). This severe depletion of the local ground water table is prompting further investigation into the overall environmental degradation of the area as a whole. Coca-Cola claims on their website that throughout all of their operations in India, stringent quality monitoring takes place covering both the source water they use as well as their finished product. All of the water used for beverage manufacturing conforms to drinking water standards, making it safe and ensuring that it meets the highest international standards, including BIS and EU standards for drinking water. They also test for traces of pesticide in groundwater to the level of parts per billion. This is equivalent to one drop in a billion drops. The water intensive production practices of Coca-Cola have raised concerns about the contamination of the remaining ground water and surrounding land. Coca-Cola discharges hazardous waste water into fields and rivers surrounding the bottling plants, resulting in ground water and soil pollution. In some areas of India, the water wells and pumps have been labeled with signs that state the water is unfit for human consumption. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all Coca-Cola waste and confirmed contamination of ground water and soil contamination in areas where this waste was disposed (India Resource). Prior to the CPCB study, this waste was distributed to Indian farmers as fertilizer for their crops (India Resource). As a result of the study, seven states in India have imposed partial bans on the sale of Coca- Cola products due to the high levels of pesticides in the waste products (India Resource). This
contamination of land and water supply coupled with a declining water table has caused severe interruption of agricultural practices in India, a country in which 70 percent of the population earns a living from agriculture and related practices, resulting in oppression of the people of India. In the face of the oppression resulting from water privatization, the Indian people are taking action in movements and protests that demand their basic needs to be considered before corporate profit. In this case the sovereignty of the local government has been pushed to their threshold by Coca Cola undermining the needs of the locals. One such movement in Kerala, India began with Indian women who were upset about having to travel greater distances because their wells were contaminated or dry from the activities of the bottling plant. While the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank define this as perfectly legal activity, Economist go as far as talking about creating a rich industry in developing countries through open market and free trade. After watching the “Live and Debt? movie Free trade has a new meaning to me. The rich and powerful a “FREE? to steal, exploit, and oppress the weak. Wait a sec that sounds like it happened before…yup Imperialism has a new name and face: Free Trade!

Water as a human right!!!!

Globalization. As a Global Studies student the meaning of this word is a constant struggle. I have tried so desperately to clinch onto the idea that we are moving faster and faster closer to the close knit, fair trade, cultural exchanging, global community that might have a new future. However all I can see lately is this community that takes the voices from the few and implements laws that push the agenda of the few. It is not cultural exchange but rather cultural domination and hegemony. Fair trade is a myth that has to stay alive so that the weak don’t lose hope or worse rebel. The documentary that we watched this week “Life and Debt? has made me think about the countless human rights violations that are justified by Wallstreet and economist as market driven Economy. One of these violations I wanted to talk about in this blog is Water. I am sure you all heard about the leading concerns of the water industry. I mean we all know that we shouldn’t buy plastic bottles, or support bottle companies that kill of the sovereignty of weaker nations, however this issues goes so much deeper. Can you afford to live? This question seems absurd and unreasonable in our contemporary community. It is well established and affirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) that every human has a "right to life", this means that no human can be deprived of the elements that make life possible. What happens if the government or a corporation asks: "Can you afford to drink?" For 1.1 billion people in the world the answer to this question would be, "NO". The global society is constantly being challenged by war, diseases, and the collapse or instability of states. However in the 21st century, with the realization that water has become a finite resource, it is the lack of fresh water that concerns most nations. With the combination of pollution, population growth, and climate change the water cycle has been damaged and water scarcity has become an increasing threat to many nations. Water is essential to every aspect of human life; our health and welfare depend on it. What happens if it isn't made available to us. It is essential that water is seen as a human right rather than a commodity. With the help of privatization of water sources, water has changed from a human right into a human need. Thru the process of Globalization countries are made to believe that water is a good that is supposed to be provided by the most competitive company, rather than the local government.

The privatization of water, which allows companies such as Coca-Cola to extract large amounts of ground water for a minimal price, is leaving the Indian people without access to water. The communities surrounding the 52 Coca-Cola bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages thought to be caused by the massive extraction of ground water by cola companies. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India has conducted studies that confirm a significant depletion of the water table in the areas surrounding the bottling plants. One example is Rajasthan, India, where the CGWB found water tables had dropped 10 meters within five years of Coca-Cola starting bottling operations in Kala Dera, Rajasthan (India Resource). In another study of water conditions in eight villages within a three kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdianj found the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since Coca-Cola began operations in the area (India Resource). This severe depletion of the local ground water table is prompting further investigation into the overall environmental degradation of the area as a whole. Coca-Cola claims on their website that throughout all of their operations in India, stringent quality monitoring takes place covering both the source water they use as well as their finished product. All of the water used for beverage manufacturing conforms to drinking water standards, making it safe and ensuring that it meets the highest international standards, including BIS and EU standards for drinking water. They also test for traces of pesticide in groundwater to the level of parts per billion. This is equivalent to one drop in a billion drops. The water intensive production practices of Coca-Cola have raised concerns about the contamination of the remaining ground water and surrounding land. Coca-Cola discharges hazardous waste water into fields and rivers surrounding the bottling plants, resulting in ground water and soil pollution. In some areas of India, the water wells and pumps have been labeled with signs that state the water is unfit for human consumption. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all Coca-Cola waste and confirmed contamination of ground water and soil contamination in areas where this waste was disposed (India Resource). Prior to the CPCB study, this waste was distributed to Indian farmers as fertilizer for their crops (India Resource). As a result of the study, seven states in India have imposed partial bans on the sale of Coca- Cola products due to the high levels of pesticides in the waste products (India Resource). This
contamination of land and water supply coupled with a declining water table has caused severe interruption of agricultural practices in India, a country in which 70 percent of the population earns a living from agriculture and related practices, resulting in oppression of the people of India. In the face of the oppression resulting from water privatization, the Indian people are taking action in movements and protests that demand their basic needs to be considered before corporate profit. In this case the sovereignty of the local government has been pushed to their threshold by Coca Cola undermining the needs of the locals. One such movement in Kerala, India began with Indian women who were upset about having to travel greater distances because their wells were contaminated or dry from the activities of the bottling plant. While the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank define this as perfectly legal activity, Economist go as far as talking about creating a rich industry in developing countries through open market and free trade. After watching the “Live and Debt? movie Free trade has a new meaning to me. The rich and powerful a “FREE? to steal, exploit, and oppress the weak. Wait a sec that sounds like it happened before…yup Imperialism has a new name and face: Free Trade!