24 August 2005

shuffling along

The beauty of the iPod shuffle is that songs come to you in a random order. We all know this. Today I was blessed with this song.
Anyone who has listened to Sweet Honey in the Rock can either imagine or hear the strength with which they sing this song. I've been listening this song ever since my mother bought the "Live at Carnegie Hall" album when I was a kid. The whole thing is great..I feel blessed to have been confronted with this type of awareness so early in life. There's a feeling of helplessness that comes over me each time I hear it. Helpless, as in I'm not helping solve the problem. My eyes well up every time I hear this song. It haunts me...my hands are most certainly not clean.

Are My Hands Clean?

I wear garments touched by hands from all over the world
35% cotton, 6% polyester, the journey begins in Central America
In the cotton fields of El Salvador
In a province soaked in blood,
Pesticide-sprayed workers toil in a broiling sun
Pulling cotton for two dollars a day.

Then we move on up to another rung - Cargill -
A top-forty trading conglomerate, takes
the cotton through the Panama Canal
Up the Eastern seaboard, coming to the US of A for the first time
In South Carolina At the Burlington mills
Joins a shipment of polyester filament courtesy
of the New Jersey petro-chemical mills of Dupont
Dupont strands of filament begin in the South American country of Venezuela
Where oil riggers bring up oil from the earth for six dollars a day

Then Exxon, largest oil company in the world,
Upgrades the product in the country of Trinidad and Tobago
Then back into the Caribbean and Atlantic Seas
To the factories of Dupont
On the way to the Burlington mills
In South Carolina
To meet the cotton from the blood-soaked fields of El Salvador

In South Carolina
Burlington factories hum with the business of weaving oil and cotton into miles of fabric for Sears
Who takes this bounty back into the Caribbean Sea
Headed for Haiti this time -
May she be one day soon free -
Far from the Port-au-Prince palace
Third world women toil doing piece work to Sears specifications
For three dollars a day
my sisters make my blouse

It leaves the third world for the last time
Coming back into the sea to be sealed in plastic for me
This third world sister
And I go to the Sears department store where I buy my blouse
On sale for 20% discount
"Are my hands clean?”


Beaner said...

See.. Mom didn't do so bad after all... I can't believe though, that I never really thought about those words and what they were saying... hmmmm, oh and P.S. can I have that song? :) heart, bean


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