Local News: Interracial E-Waste Civil Union

Good Point Recycling made the front of the local Addison County newspaper yesterday.  I was shocked to immediately get congratulations from Mexicali Mexico, Rhode Island, etc.  It's a small world.

It was kind of a coincidence that the local paper came in during a walk-through with the Angolan electronics buyer.   Would they see this as evidence that we are "an exporter?"   Actually, I think the paper did a very good job, for a non-trade journal, of distinguishing between the 23% we export for reuse and recycling and the 77% of computers and TVs ("e-waste") we process domestically.

Compared to the articles I would have been a part of ten years ago... I'm doing the same thing... exporting a small percentage of used electronics, paying people to test and de-manufacture the junk.   But back then, the emphasis of any article was "look! look!  I'm NOT exporting 77%!  Look at us destroy!"  Yesterday's article, in a way, gingerly put, was about a local inter-racial marriage.

Ten years ago, many of us believed that most recyclers were exporting that 77% of bad material, because we'd been told so.  As it turns out, there are a lot of economic barriers to exporting more than 15% junk in a reuse load.  And it turns out that in recycling loads, there are many different types of facilities, both in the USA and overseas.  And it turns out that the source of the anti-export propaganda is even against exporting used auto batteries to factories that make new lead auto batteries... they are against even proper recycling if it's a part of "globalization", which the firmly distrust and oppose.

Compared to press about e-waste sexports ten years ago, I hope that the article will be more and more typical.  The American press should stop characterizing "Geeks of Color" recyclers according to their skin, their ethnicity, their nationality.

Yes, there are valid concerns over globalization, and there are low wage and low standards overseas, in some factories.  That applies both to "ewaste" processors, and to the factories that make the electronics (and clothes and toys and automobile batteries).  There are also nations like Singapore, where most hard drives are manufactured, have become vibrant, multi-cultural, Muslim-Christian-Hindu-Buddhist plurality democracies, where women go to university and earn engineering degrees.  Fair trade and alter-globalization is a brighter horizon than boycots and prohibition.

Angola and Ghana and Egypt and Indonesia and China want to be more like Singapore and South Korea.  That's what we want, too.

I remember the level-headed advice my parents gave me when (at 4 years old) I desperately wanted to marry my next door neighbor, Sally.  She told me that she couldn't, because I wasn't Jewish.  I didn't know what a Jewish was, but I was heartbroken that I might fall in love and not be allowed to marry the perfect person for me.  So I was ready for the later discussions about interracial marriages in the 1960s.  My folks said there was nothing wrong with it, and that there should not be laws against people marrying who loved each other.  But, they added, it was a hard lifestyle to choose, to go against society, and that it could be a choice that your little children have to live with.

My kids just have to live with the fact their dad is a "confessed ewaste exporter" in the local Vermont paper.

Mildred and Richard Loving, challenged Virginia marriage laws
I'm glad that the small town paper, the Addison Independent, took the difficult step to tell the "interracial marriage" story.  I wasn't old enough to participate in the school and societal integration in the deep south.  By the time I was in high school, interracial dating at Fayetteville Arkansas High School was neither common nor shocking.   The local journalist happened to come in when we had an African geek touring our wares (a second African geek arrived two days later).   Had they come in and met Frederique Somda of Burkina Faso, or Oscar, Lidia, Antonio, Vicki, Dolores (Mexico) or Jinnex, or Hamdy or Essam or Fang or Liu... it would have been all different people, and could have been a story about "e-waste exports".  But instead, today it is about these people as people, as human beings, who want their nations to participate online, in the digital economy.  With freedom and justice and ethical recycling and sustainable resource management for all.

I just don't see how to get where we have to go if the policy is NOT to trade with poor people of other races and societies, who cannot afford to get online with new equipment.  I know the "Accidental Racists" mean well.   They've just been completely unable to come to grips with people who don't fit the stereotype of primitive wire burning toxic polluters.  It's a Willie Horton campaign against free and fair trade.  They mean well, sure.  But the paradigm was wrong, and it's wrong that I should wake up this morning afraid that I may meet people in Middlebury who will know I'm a "n**ger lover", who will know about my interracial-trade in used computers, who will know that Mexican women can turn a screwdriver.   I don't mind my interracial marriage to Geeks of Color.  But I wake up afraid to see my picture on the front page, because I know the idea is not accepted by all, and my company could be confronted with an environmentalist lynching.

I won't give my kids any advice at all about what race they marry.   I am need blind, race blind casting when it comes to the life and marriage they will choose.  I hope it will be a happy marriage, if they choose to marry, and that if they have children, that the kids will grow up religious (whatever religion) and read the great books, from New Testament to Tao to the Gita.  It is vitally important to me who they marry.  There is nothing I could possibly care more about.  It's just that the race and ethnicity and sex of their partner has nothing at all to do with it.  And I hope that recycling, too, can someday be that way.

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