While rereading the article “Politicizing Motherhood Chinese Garment Workers’ Campaign for Daycare Centers in New York City, 1977-1982” written by Xiaolan Bao, for Professor Kim’s ASA 100 class, I was reminded of the article “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a global economy, it’s hard to know who made your gift—and under what conditions.” As I thought about both articles I began to contemplate what my grandma went through during her first decade of being in the U.S.; being a working Chinese woman from the 1950s until 1973. While first thinking about my grandma’s situation in terms of the article for Professor Kim’s class, I thought that although my grandma wasn’t working as a garment worker (she worked in the tomato and peach canning industry in Stockton, California) she still had to deal with the same dilemmas as the Chinese garment workers’ in New York City.
By 1955 my grandma had five children with no daycare while she and my grandpa had to go to work everyday in order to survive in their new homeland. Since she worked in the canning industry obviously it was not a healthy or a suitable environment for children to be hanging around and she could not work from home to take care of my uncles and mom. So just like the Chinese garment workers in New York City my grandma had to deal with the stress of providing for her family while also fulfilling her role as mother and wife.
Secondly as I thought about my grandma’s situation in comparison to the “Santa’s sweatshop” article I started to wonder how well canned goods were being handled back in the 50s. As I stated before although canned goods aren’t the same as clothing, in some weird way they are. Based off of what I know about the working conditions my grandma had to endure, she might as well have been working in a sweatshop. She had to work long and hard hours for very little pay in a cannery building that more than likely wasn’t as sterile as it should have been for an industry dealing with food. So when they say “But if the kids knew how some of these gifts were made, it might cast a decided pall on their holiday cheer;” people may also want to consider, if they knew how and who were canning some of their canned goods, it might result in never wanting to eat a canned good product again. To this day my grandma refuses to eat canned peaches and tomatoes of any kind.
Discussion with my grandma. 97 years young. 22 May 2009.
Bao, Xiaolan. "Politicizing Motherhood Chinese Garment Workers’ Campaign for Daycare Centers in New York City, 1977-1982.”
Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a global economy, it’s hard to know who made your gift—and under what conditions.” Class Reader.