KUSA - May we make a recommendation? This is where we point you to a bit of journalism that we had no part in but is worth checking out.
The Atlantic has the article “My Family’s Slave” written by Alex Tizon, who was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter that passed away in March.
It starts out with Tizon recounting growing up with a woman named Lola, who acted in what may at first seem to be the position of family servant or nanny. Helping around the house, taking care of the kids.
Tizon didn't realize Lola was not paid to clean, to make their beds or to cook dinner. She was a slave, that was given to Tizon’s mother as a gift and who came to the U.S. from the Philippines with his parents.
Lola, by the way, was terrified to go to the U.S. She had no true say in the matter, and ultimately agreed on the promise of an allowance.
She never got that allowance, of course.
What follows after is a recounting of Lola’s struggles, from Tizon’s parents verbal abuse to Tizon’s brother explaining to him the immorality of Lola’s situation. How Tizon comes to realize that immorality for himself.
“We spent our first decade in the country learning the ways of the new land and trying to fit in. Having a slave did not fit. Having a slave gave me grave doubts about what kind of people we were, what kind of place we came from,” he wrote.
And the story of Tizon bringing Lola’s ashes back to what is left of her family in the Philippines.
It’s a powerful tale, but obviously not a happy one.
The article will take a good 20 to 30 minutes to digest, and what feelings and conclusions it leaves you with may take longer. But’s well worth your time.
There’s also an accompanying editor’s note, which provides a bit of insight into the article’s journey (Tizon spent five to six years struggling to write it) and also acts as an obituary for Tizon.
We should note the article is not without its criticism -- passionately tweeted criticism.
Pls don't read "My Family's Slave" without considering its impact in a society deeply invested in benevolent master/happy slave narratives— Mark Tseng-Putterman (@tsengputterman) May 16, 2017
I am so upset about the My Family's Slave article... are we now just OK with slave narratives as long as a minority is helming the whip?— Shanelle Little (@ShanelleLittle) May 16, 2017
If this had been written by a white man this would be panned - it has all the hallmarks of trash white owner slave narratives.— Shanelle Little (@ShanelleLittle) May 16, 2017
No matter his eloquence, this is still the perspective of the master's son in a dramatically unequal relationship https://t.co/Qk4PmrFwpc— sukjong hong (@hongriver) May 16, 2017
As much as I love Tizon's piece though...— Nik (@iwriteasiwrite) May 17, 2017
Did anyone else get a whiff of that "White Man's Burden" thing going on?
And its defenders.
I don't think 'My Family's Slave' is romanticizing a cultural practice. It should challenge us to explore the noble intent of the writer.— Miyako Izabel (@citizen_lumad) May 17, 2017
Americans need to stop giving their piece re My Family's Slave if you don't even know how it is in the Filipino context. Tangina dami kuda— Carmina (@carrrrmina) May 17, 2017
I don't get the backlash against "My Family's Slave". Comparing PH's history of slavery is so much different over the Western ideology.— Sidney Bernardino (@sidneyland19) May 17, 2017
So tell us what your thoughts are on the piece. Let us know at #HeyNext.
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