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#5SmartReads - August 16, 2022
Hitha on the cost of colonization, the need for representation, and the agony and ecstasy of the morning parent rush
How much did the British colonization cost India? (The Juggernaut)
It’s not just the $45 trillion that economists have calculated. The cost of colonization - centered on those who were colonized - is significantly higher, and the Western-centered telling of history leaves out so much.
Like how India financed 30% of the UK’s WWII efforts, with no reimbursement (it infuriatingly was written off as a gift). Or that any of the upside of agricultural exports during British rule was solely realized by the colonizers, and at the expense of South Asian lives (85 million lives were lost due to famine and life expectancy plummeted).
“The underdevelopment of development” was something I learned in this article.
“Frank hypothesized that colonization under the guise of capitalist development was a scheme to keep colonized countries eternally dependent on alien rule. “In the reports, India’s export surplus and everything…is hunky dory,” Mukherjee explained. “Of course, there was this development. But what it was leading to was the shrinking of the Indian economy.””
This is history. Whether or not it’s taught in schools doesn’t make it any less true (though I’d argue that we should be teaching accurate history in schools), and I hope we all take a moment to consider who was harmed when we think about advancements in history, because that side is rarely told or shared.
Speaking of the untold, heartbreaking consequences of colonization, the loss of culture among those enslaved and their ancestors is another one.
And while that is the despicable norm, the Gullah Geechee people are the exception. The Gullah Geechee can trace their ancestory to West and central Africa and have managed to preserve their music, language, and culture over the past 160 years.
Food is key to culture, and I could not be more excited to learn from elder Emily Meggett herself about the Gullah Geechee culture and some of their amazing recipes.
“Heart is a big word with Ms. Emily. She has always looked after Edisto. When the side door into her kitchen is open, folks know they can stop in for a plate of hot food. (Conversely, wherever she goes on the island, she is gifted with ingredients.) Cooking, for Ms. Emily, is about sharing history — and, as she says in her book, food is one of the most important ways we take care of each other. That was the whole impetus for her cookbook, she says.
"A lot of times, we has a treasure in our head," she observes. "And we will die and go to heaven, and take that treasury with us. And why can't we just share it with somebody else here? I'll get more out of that, to share it.""
While I hope the US is still on track to authorize the bivalent booster next month (and have the funds to procure enough supply), I am happy to see boosters developed with the dominant variant being available as we continue to persist through this never-ending surge.
The UK has ahead of the US in terms of pandemic waves and vaccines becoming available, and it’s given me a bit of comfort in having an idea of what to expect. That we’ll have real-world data for this specific booster is something that gives me some peace.
What doesn’t give me peace, however, is how this administration’s pandemic playbook seems to solely be newer vaccines and therapeutics and not boosting common-sense public health measures…but that’s another issue entirely.
“Taking care of children may feel like drudgery — and, fair, it often is — but I know that the repetitive circle we walk every morning wears a groove into their consciousness, their souls. It is precisely this intimate, bodily knowledge — specific to each child, cultivated day by day — that gives them a sense of security, safety, and love. We feel like we are going nowhere, but time marches forward whether we notice or not, so imperceptibly that it can feel like a betrayal.”
This quote was a simultaneous punch to the gut and a hug for my weary mom soul. The morning rush is an agony and ecstasy like no other (and despite my deepest desires, it apparently does not get easier as the kids get older), and sums up parenting in a tight cliché that every parent can empathize with.
The cliché is universal, but Angela’s words brings a wistful beauty to the experience that feels anything but.
Having spent the morning buying backpacks and school clothes, making dentist and eye doctor appointments, and looking up sports’ schedules after our own morning rush (one kid requested pancakes while the other wanted to drive toy cars over my toes). And while my toes still hurt and I stress myself over the right label designs for the kids, I’m wistfully appreciative of these moments.
Because for as much as I claim to be ready for my kids to be older, the idea of letting go of these moments is one I’m not ready to face.
“I think because I’ve had to struggle a little to make sure my needs are being met, I understand better that we should be fighting for something different. That’s why representation matters. That’s why we need to send people with diverse backgrounds to every different leadership role available. That way we can bring our lived experiences to the legislative process. The world we live in is often dominated by hate and exclusion. The only way that we can fight back against that is to be at every level of government. We need to become more visible to ensure our voices are heard. “
I have nothing more to add, just my fervent wish that you take the time to read every word of this interview with Yuh-Line Niou and to take a closer look at her platform if you’re registered in NY-10.