The unpaid work of emotional labour acts as nothing more than an extractive economy. Extractive economies is a term that I have been throwing around for a while, like some unpopular fire poi at a party. Nobody likes extractive economies. Nobody wants to admit that we are actively involved in stealing somebody elses wealth or worse their means of survival. Yet we do, we are. Think back to the coltan child slaves of the Congo. They are never far from my mind.
It feels like a dirty word when ever I say it extractive economies. Yet here I am saying it. Writing about it, getting explicit about it. What if I told that as much as any future PhD I do might be about trauma it is almost certianly about extractive economies. Our world is fucked and the primary reason is the things we take without asking. The things that we don’t even value, like emotional labour or time. You are not entitled to my emotional labour. The things we take with out checking. The thing we take without equal recompence never mind paying. What’s money worth when the world is burning? Yet we are consumed by it.
I am so often devalued for the way I look, the way I speak, the way I dress, the way I operate in the world with all this dyslexic writing. People tell me I have to be everything other than what I am to be successful. That is not my idea of success. I see a different world in which I and every other living thing is inherently valuble. That I and other earthly automatically hold value. This is the underpinning of all indigenous knowledge systems. Everything plays it’s part has it’s role to be and is valued in that role. Imagine that world. It’s the world I live in.
I do not pull out the symbolism of power to seduce people into my influence I am often dismissed, denied, ignored and even treated with contempt. What people don’t realise are the ways in which they have been brainwashed to think that this is OK. You don’t look like me, or sound like me, or act like me and therefore quite bluntly you are subhuman. It’s nothing less than a colonailist tactic to produce standardised humans that are easy to manipulate, control and exploit.
As a human and as a supposedly advanced human with access to modern technology you might think that you are above and beyond such influences. If you went to school, watch mass media and went to university, it’s quite the opposite your almost certainly complicit and an active participant in extractive economies and ultimately human slavery. Where did the coltan in you phone or laptop come from exactly? Is it ethically sourced? Who decides if it’s ethically source? Where is the ethical standards commitee getting there money from? How exactly is the ethical standards commitee complicity in upholding the spaces of power? These are simple questions that underpin critical theory. That will have you spouting convenient colonial histories to absolve you from your complicity in child slave labour. The thing is though The Congo seems so very far away even in an African context. It might be posed as an extreme example of an extractive economy that in a structured debate would have the highly educated nailing down and offering the plight of Bangladeshi factory workers. If we are going to talk about Congolese child slave labour, than we also have to address the endless planetary injustices that all the sub-altern endure. Then of course it’s hopeless where could we intervene? Where do we possibly start and by this point the arguments gone south and their isn’t much point in bothering. After all the conversation alone is exhausting.
Of course if you are sitting, where I am sitting these forms of conversations and tactics are part of the systems of oppression that are designed to keep us stuck. The denial of the emotional labour that gets exhausted in these kinds of debates can easily be pinpointed as both emotional and psychological abuse. Marginalised communities continually live with this abuse by having to jusify their right to existance. You probably think that I am being dramatic and then you find out the news that 227 land defenders were murdered in 2021. You might think that that doesn’t affect you, that’s right up until you then learn that 80% of the world biodiversity is held by indigenous people, who in turn are only five percent of the human population. Then of course you might be thinking how on Earth did trauma work become about the climate crisis and ecojustice? It’s actually the root cause of your trauma. Good old fashioned land displacement, throw in some oppression, family break down, community disintegration, and mind control and you’ve got the perfect storm for a mental health crisis. Bearing in mind of course that their is nothing wrong with you because trauma is a physiological and normal response to shock, chronic stress and trauma. You are welcome.
Whatismore marginalised and indiginous communities hold the solutions to much of our worlds problems which it a large part of the reason that we go off to trip in the Peruvian jungles on Ayahuasca. We know, we know. We just don’t want to acknowledge the harmful and complicit nature that we currently extract our healing from, that both directly and indirectly sabotage indigenous wealth. Given that you can produce dmt in your own brain and a good Sangoma knows how to do that. Why are you off tripping anyway? Besides as any good trauma practitioner will tell you the secret to unpacking your problems is radical presence. Time isn’t linear, nor is memory, your body is a portal that you can hack. So my invitation to you is how about we learn to be radically present? Netflix and chill will disintegrate as a need as soon as you start asserting your own social justice.
So my small request to you is the next time your pre-judged underprivilige person in your immediate vaccinty makes you a cup of tea or offers your a listening ear. Why not transfer your cash directly into their bank account your privilige is almost certainly built on their opression. They don’t need saved. You are the problem act accordingly.
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