My housemate, Kimmy, says that I hold fast to my morals when I buy things, that I have a clear view of what is ethically okay for a company to do and what I consume in comparison to other people who, let’s say, bought food from the Coffee House on campus after a boycott of the same place was announced because of the CoHo’s racist “illegal immigrant” party. I try to be “conscientious” of what I buy, I try to support alternative methods of consumption such as thrift-shopping, and I buy things to support the causes I believe in. However, I once heard that there are no ethical consumers in a capitalist society, and even companies with so-called feminist agendas will make their edgy t-shirts made in a sweatshop in China. I have not yet bought anything “new” other than food or hygiene things (although, did I really have to buy that fancy ten dollar body wash?) and have thus, been steadfast in accepting this challenge, but I also want to challenge the idea that we can consume “ethically.” Even the clothes I would have bought second hand were made in a sweatshop, someday, somewhere, probably in Malaysia or Los Angeles, because the exploitation of people of color as cheap labor happens here in the United States, too, as we had learned from the film “Made in LA.” Finally, I would like to challenge the idea that “[s]uccess for Asian Americans has long been understood… as a product of their innate abilities and indomitable work ethic” (Tu 47), and propose that we build networks to try to help each other consume as ethically as we can, much like the Asian American designers were helped by their families on their way to “success.” I do not want to participate in an activism that relies on the sale of t-shirts with political slogans on them, and I believe it to be shallow publicity-stunt. I am tired of giant corporations attempting to cater to audiences with slightly feminist or anti-racist commercials. I believe it is time to find an alternative method of living.
Tu, Thuy Linh N. "Crossing the Assembly Line: Skills, Knowledge, and the Borders of Fashion." The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion. Durham: Duke UP, 2011. 47. Print.
"Feminist Shirt Sweatshop Claim Denied." BBC News. BBC News, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.