This video is a presentation by Leslie T. Chang via TEDTalks, so granted it’s full of TEDitude,* but it’s definitely worth a listen, especially in the context of “supply chain justice,” the issue raised by OUR Walmart.
Here is the section at the beginning that I took notice of. After reading some brief aspirational quotes:
[CHANG:] … All of these speakers, by the way, are young women 18 or 19 years old. So I spent two years getting to know assembly line workers like these in the South China factory city called Dong Wan [phonetic]. Certain subjects came up over and over: How much money they made; what kind of husband they hoped to marry; whether they should jump to another factory, or stay where they were. Other subjects came up almost never, including living conditions that to me looked close to prison life. Ten or fifteen workers in one room, 50 people sharing a single bathroom, days and nights ruled by the factory clock. Everyone they knew lived in similar circumstances, and it was still better than the dormitories and homes of rural China.
Workers who migrate from the country to the city, from the farm to the factory, re-live, perhaps, a story that is centuries old by now. But it is new to them! What I like about Chang’s presentation is that she treats the workers as protagonists, as agents. That is to say, she respects them.
But listen to the whole thing! What do you think?
NOTE * Basically, the assumption that “creative class” types both in the audience and on the stage are drivers, instead of, at best, back seat drivers (and they’re not always at their best). That said, the creative class really can be genuinely creative, and often TED lives up to its own ideals for “ideas worth spreading.”