I’d like to take a quick poll of readers. How many of you remember a time when you didn’t eat grapes in the winter, checked to see where a product was grown or manufactured before buying it, or have even gone to the extreme of not shopping in a place because they did not label where items came from? Does that sound familiar to anybody?
When I was a kid that was my family. Supporters of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers union in California, enforcers of the nothing from South Africa rule, and latter from Chile. When your young it’s difficult to understand the subtle nuances of political behaviour. All it meant to me was that I never got to eat the Granny Smith apples I loved so much because they came from South Africa.
My Mother tried to explain it to me, about people being treated unfairly. The Mexican workers in California not being paid properly for their work picking the fruit and vegetables. The situation in South Africa of white minority rule.
I had asked her why she didn’t shop at a particular store, they had better candy and that was important to me, and had been told they didn’t label products telling which country had grown them. She said that if these people who were living like slaves or being treated badly asked for help by people not buying things, it was the least we could do. Giving up grapes in the winter was nothing compared to not being able to afford to feed your family.
I guess you could say that was the beginning of my political awareness. A mixture of liberal guilt and a desire to make the world better. In my innocence, or ignorance, I assumed that everybody’s family acted like ours did. So the first time I was over at a friends house and saw a bowl of grapes I said something about it. The silence that followed told me that I had made some sort of faux pas, but didn’t know what.
It wasn’t till I got home that my mother explained that not all people believed that boycotts, she had taught me what the word meant, were any good, or that some even thought that supporting the people who needed help was wrong. I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to help those in trouble. She said neither could she, but there were some people in the world like that.