All of these articles are from one blog, flip flopping joy:

berries. blue.

The ABC Report about blueberry field abuse

up close through others’ eyes

Read those before responding to this post.

This is the first time in my life that MY community has been highlighted on national television. I mean…the place I worked. The place I have memories of. The place my body has memories of.

Not just “community” that I count myself a part of.

~has that ever happened to you?

It changes how you see things. Because you see yourself for the first time through the eyes of others. Up close. You can feel their breath on your skin. You can smell their perfume.

And you know what they think of you.

Not abstract you, not “identity you claim” you.


She asks, has this happened to you, and I reply, [utterly inadequately compared to what she wrote]:

Not identical — we’re from different communities, and the issues are different. [Hopefully it’s obvious what I mean by different communities, even though this isn’t about “community identities’, etc. I’m not going to add any more disclaimers though, or I’ll never be able to write this.] But similar.

Every time they find torture in institutions, and try to fight for pointless regulations that won’t even stop the obvious torture, let alone the day-in day-out degradation and dehumanization that changes and smashes and wounds you inside worse than any physical torture ever could.
Reading the detached and clinical reports [from the agency that uncovered the abuses], and the news reports, about institutions that I was in, some of which I was in at the time the reports were being made. Remembering what the real issues were and that nobody who writes the things ever gives a damn about them, or about those of us who lived there, or about anything other than us as a symbol of mute helplessness and things that happened to us that we accepted more than we accepted the worst things. It fills me with feelings so powerful I can’t even name them. And I cry. Or I pound things. Or I just lie there immobilized by the feelings. And I never know how to explain it to anyone, even though I try my damnedest all the time because I know with my whole being that this is what matters [and so few of us are talking about it where people hear, it’s so much easier to just forget, and so difficult to put a finger on]. (And yet know that many will discount me because I’m the sort of person who ends up in those places, after all. Not reliable. Not real.)


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Look closer, part 3 -I don’t know « Sanabitur Anima Mea

  2. It seems to me that most mainstream news coverage is meant either to make us afraid or to desensitive us into numbness. The story about the blueberry farm falls into the latter category. Its purpose is not to tell the story of the children or their families–because only the children and their families can tell their story–but to allow otherwise privileged people to have a moment of outrage, to feel that they care, and then to go about their lives feeling secure that they understand without having to ask any questions. When you’ve gotten someone to the point where they have no questions, you’ve really numbed them (and dumbed them down) considerably. Then, they’re ready for the next commercial break…

  3. I did read the linked articles. I am of two (at least) minds about this. Traditionally, school is out for summer so that kids can do farm work. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for kids to do useful work which pays money. Maybe the dullness of the farm work will inspire them to pay attention when they go back to school, so as to learn skills which will allow them to do easier work for more money.

    On the other hand, children are easily led, and are often led to do things which are against their long-term interests.

    The child-labor laws were intended to prevent exploitation of children by people who would neglect their education for the sake of their easily-gotten labor. On the other hand, I think kids should be allowed to make money by labor, just like grownups. With more protection than grownups against exploitation, they being kids

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