My generation--the tail-end
of X, or early Millennials--grew up in a time of soft racism and racial
inequality; we were also brought up to be tolerant and "color blind." Like most of
my peers, I wouldn't be caught dead using the n-word (despite being a bit of a
The community meal our church hosts--a modest operation that
serves four free meals a week to about 50 guests--has recently lost its main
source of donations. For several years, we've received big boxes of discarded
produce--lettuce, peppers, asparagus, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever was
being gleaned from the store shelves--from our local chain grocery.
Conditions inside poultry processing plants are grim and dangerous, according to a study released by Oxfam America. Workers are denied bathroom breaks, forcing some to wear diapers as they keep up with processing about 45 birds per minute. The workplace conditions are especially challenging for menstruating and pregnant women. The environment is frigid to keep the chickens cool. Floors splattered with water, blood, and fat are slippery. Many of the workers interviewed complained about sexual and racial discrimination. Conditions in unionized plants are better, but only about one-third are unionized. Four industry giants—Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms—control 60 percent of the market, employing 100,000 people (Washington Post, May 11).