Statement or Shill
is a small Central California. The part of the local economy that isnt fast
food chains, big box stores and other corporate ventures mostly owned by people
who dont even live there is agricultural based. However, the huge
farms just outside of town are also mostly corporate owned.
The food grown on those farms is shipped off to who knows where. But, to grow
these commodities they dump chemicals on the ground and spray poison into the
air with little regard to how it affects the locals. Each year the Orange and
other harvests also require the hiring of hundreds and maybe even thousands of
workers who are mostly Latinos. Many of these workers are illegal aliens and they
come from all over Latin America not just Mexico. Often, these people find work,
but no American Dream because of the low wages they are paid.
And like many places in America, sadly Porterville is a place divided by race,
class and economics. In this place, they teach about an idealized America in the
schools and then it seems that those textbooks were written by people and for
people that must live elsewhere.
What is really going on is that certain corporations have come into my town to
take, and take, and take giving back very little to the people who have to live
there year after year. However, I shouldn't give the impression that I think all
corporations are bad because I don't. But for the reasons above, I had to get
out of there myself. I didnt want to work at the Wal Mart portrait studio,
which was about the only job in town for a photographer. Things are better for
me since I left but it also makes me a little sad I had to leave my family and
my home to find a better life and follow my dreams.
And though I havent lived in Porterville in over a decade thinking back,
theres one image I made there that still leaves me angry and feeling cynical
its an image I shot of a corporation flying an old, tattered American flag
above my town. Im angry because that flag should have been taken down and
ceremonially burned when it became tattered. Ironically its the symbol of
Americas Freedom but a corporation flying it can take millions of dollars
in profits from my community but they wont replace a ten-dollar flag that
means so much to the conservative and even some of the not so conservative residents
who live there.
Therefore, the flag becomes a symbol about how some corporations, whose owners
I've never seen or met, have colonized and exploited my city and the people who
live there. But what that flag really means is the formation of a nation that
refused to live under the tyranny of the British Empire or anyone else.
Now, I suppose it is the Freedom of any corporation to fly a tattered
American flag above my town but this isnt an act of free speech like seen
like . . .
where a flag is on the ground or . . .
flags are used to cover symbolic coffins during anti-war protest.
am a strong supporter of free speech, even speech I personally dont agree
with. This usage of the flag Im writing about is a callous act of neglect
because it saves a little money to keep flying an old flag not fit to be flown
Not that I often fly the flag myself
but were I going to fly a flag - unless
I wanted to make a political statement (which I might photograph if someone else
did but I wouldn't do myself) I would fly it honorably or not fly it at all because
I dont want to hurt my neighbors who really care about what that flag means
to them. Furthermore, right or wrong, many people in Porterville during its history
and across America for over 200 years have died defending that flag with honest
and clean intentions apart from whatever American foreign policy was at the time.
In Porterville, we lost more of our own in Vietnam per capita than any other town
Therefore, its my Freedom to think whomever the CEO is of that company
that he or shes a greedy idiot who doesnt care about my community
or my country or care about what Freedom really means as represented by the American
flag. That person has probably never been to my town anyway.
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