"You Don't Sound Like An American"

David Trammel's picture

Found this gem over on Sharon Astyk's FB feed, concerning a conversation she had with some non-Americans farmers back in 2018.


"Conversation today at the farm with two members, one born in Nigeria, the other in Guyana: Chatting about farming things, including how to butcher rabbits, goats and turtles (the latter of which I have no experience with, but one man did), and low tech irrigation in dry climates.

Guyanese member: "You look like a white American lady, but you don't sound like one. I never met any American lady who ever would have said anything about those rabbits but 'oh, how cute' and would have made a face at me if I said I used to raise them to eat - and then gone off and eaten a cow at a restaurant."

Me: "Yeah, but once upon a time Americans used to be farmers too. Now, though, it is pretty rare. Still, farmers are farmers everywhere."

Nigerian Member: "You don't get paid. Why you do this?"

Me: "You ever have anything bad happen where there wasn't enough to eat?"

Him: "Oh yeah."

Me: "That's why. I want people here to eat, particularly if hard stuff happens and they can't go to the supermarket."

Guyanese Man: "Americans don't think about that. They don't think that they could go hungry."

Me: "Some do. Some right here go hungry with food in the stores."

Nigerian Man: "That's because Americans are mean, and they think if you are poor, you deserve it. In Africa at least we know poor isn't from God."

Guyanese Man: "You really think things like that could happen here?"

Me: "You heard about Puerto Rico, right? That's here. That's America."

Him: "Americans don't know that."

Me: "Doesn't make it not part of America. And those folks went hungry and died because they didn't have enough clean water and food and medicine."

Guyanese Man: "I still say you ain't no American lady."

Everyone laughs.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I've probably told this before, but my sister once clinched a job interview (nursing) because she had put on her resume her on-going experience with trapping wild hogs. Talk about transferable skills! Nowadays, she only raises meat rabbits, but I know those gaitors out back in the pond won't have a chance if she gets that hungry.

One of my mother's life-assessing comments in her last days was, "I'm glad I was able to teach my children how to be poor."...We're glad, too. Thanks, Mom. Not that you had any choice.

David Trammel's picture

I love that sentiment. If more parents would teach their children that, instead of "You're a prince and you deserve the World", it might be a better place.

I think a lot of people are going to end up teaching how to be poor badly, because they're new at it and figuring it out as they go along. There is a learning curve, and different strategies to cope with being poor.

I'm low income, but I have a lot more money coming in than I've had in the past at times, and a lot more stuff stored up, and better coping strategies. It feels completely different than it did in 2009. That was miserable. This is fine.

Corrach-the-Blue's picture

This is my fear. Even when I was relatively poor I didn’t live like it. I used a credit card judiciously that I’m paying for now. Now that I’m more or less PMC, living poor is a hard sell for my family.