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First World “over-consumption” comes at the expense of the Third World “death

By Yalidy Matos, Race-Talk Contributor The success of the Global North could not have been possible without the destruction and impoverishment of the Global South, with disproportionate consequences on people of color. As the cartoon below by Piero Tonin illustrates, First World “over-consumption” comes at the expense of Third World “death”. This cannot be any more explicit. Countries in the Global South are made to be poor with assistance programs such as structural adjustment plans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Instead of helping “developing” countries these programs make it more difficult for countries in the Global South to get out of debt. These programs follow a free market ideology, which the West is so fond of. The high interest rates and the “no option but to comply” policies only make these countries worse and indebted to the so-called “First World”. Additionally, “studies show that poor and working-class Third World women and children bear the brunt of these policies, which intensify both their labor and impoverishment.”[2] Imperial countries were enriched by using and gaining profit from colonized countries’ resources; these colonized countries are now majority poor so-called “Third World” countries. Globalization relies on the interdependence of the Global North and Global South. As Peterson and Runyan argue, “[b]y denying the relationship of (inter)dependencebetween fact and value, subject and object, exploiter and victim, direct and indirect violence, culture and nature, they obscure who has the greatest power—and therefore responsibility.”[3] The Global North, more specifically the United States, wield the greatest power. The United States’ economic global power is tremendous and any economic decision the US makes affects the world. The Global North has the most power, and hence the most responsibility. As a powerful country the United States, along with other powerful countries, need to take into consideration the effects of globalization on people of color and the Global South more generally. The well being of people of color is not extremely expensive. However, it does take a shift in consciousness. The shift that must take place is one that prioritizes the health and security of all people. As Peterson and Runyan make clear, denying the interdependence between exploiter (Global North) and those being exploited (Global South) obscures who has the greatest power. Globalization has mostly negative affects on people of color of the Global South. Those who are disproportionately affected by globalization are women, children and people of color. Those left out of the important decisions, such as where to place an export processing plant (EPZs), are those most affected by the harsh environmental effects, those most affected by the harsh, cruel and sometimes deadly consequences. Globalization is one of the primary reasons for the economic powerlessness in which the Global South find itself. A powerlessness that leaves women and children of color especially vulnerable to all acts of violence, whether it is state- or individual-to-individual violence. Globalization, then, is not far from colonization. It is, as some postcolonial feminists call it, re-colonization. This term refers to the intensification of colonizing practices by the Global North towards the Global South. Let us be reminded of only one of many of the effects of colonization, that of genocide. Globalization is more subtlety doing away with people in the Global South through harsh and un-humanitarian policies. The poverty that globalization has helped to deepen in some, if not all, sectors of the Global South is killing people; leaving the “First world” fat with resources, the same resources that lack in “Third World” countries, causing the depiction of a mere corpse.
[1]Available at (Accessed May 8, 2009). [2] Peterson, V. Spike and Runyan, Anne Sisson. (1999). Global Gender Issues: Dilemmas in World Politics. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. p.136. [3] Ibidp.63. ### Yalidy Matos Ms. Matos is a first year PhD graduate student at Ohio State University in Political Science. Her major field is American politics, and focuses on race/ethnicity and gender politics. Ms. Matos graduated cum laude from Connecticut College with a double major in Government and Gender & Women’s Studies, and a minor in English. She wrote her undergraduate honors thesis on the implementation of two United Nations conventions (CEDAW and CERD) at the local municipal level in New York City, following in the footsteps of San Francisco’s victory. Her thesis asked how local organizations, such as non-for-profits, can be both a part of a system, that of a liberal democracy (the U.S), and do work that is simultaneously outside of that very same system. Her passion for race and gender equity led her to apply to a PhD program in Political Science, and hopes to shift consciousness around race/ethnicity and gender issues in the United States.