I found several connections between Smith’s work and Brigg’s Reproducing Empire, the US colonization of Puerto Rico. Particularly salient, is the US discourse disguised as aid yet explicitly employing state institutions to “civilize” another through race and gender based violence. These forms of colonization take place through sterilization efforts and contraceptive/medical laboratories in order to diminish overpopulation. However, we should have learned by now that poverty does not correlate to overpopulation. What does seem to correlate to poverty is a country violating citizen’s rights to their land.
In the spirit of Mohanty who insists upon not perpetuating monolithic understandings, the differences between Brigg’s and Smith’s analyses are engaging. Brigg’s discussed how the US bought up land in order to export resources which forced an agrarian culture to become working-class. Hardly having to pay any taxes, North American venture capitalists went into Puerto Rico and bought up land to build sugar mills refining the sugar within the country to export. On the other hand, Smith discusses how “race is consistently the most statically significant variable in the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities” (p. 57). Environmental racism is a violation of not just the land but in extension the bodies of Native Americans. Whereas Brigg’s work is a textual analysis, Smith incorporates the words of Native Americans into her work. Smith accomplishes what she ends up advocating for which is to place women of color at the center of analysis.
Smith advocates an interpersonal, state, and structural approach to addressing gender and race based violence. Smith wrote, “There is a contradiction, however, in relying upon the state to solve problems it is responsible for creating” (p. 139). Smith insists that state issues such as colonization, police brutality, criminal justice system, and prisons are all institutions that should be reexamined and reevaluated. These cannot be understood without the structural perspectives such as racism, classism, and sexism that are interwoven into these processes and institutions. In reexamining the state issues, Smith advocates for a social organizing process that connects interpersonal with state issues. From what I have gathered, interpersonal includes both communal and activism in networks such as organizers, educators, families, and friends. My questions stems from how these networks are interwoven into the everyday lived experiences. Throughout the book, I questioned how this approach is inclusive of the everyday realities as opposed to offering up another separatism perspective. I agree that activism starts from bottom up but how do we connect these realities with those who continue to live in ignorance and colorblindness? This question becomes even more pertinent when discussing US colonialism in Puerto Rico. How do we connect the interpersonal relationships that create intercultural communication that embodies listening, understanding, and approach alternative ways of living?