Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

(Red) Mythology

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

(Red) Mythology

Article excerpt

 
   All things being equal, they are not. 
 
   As first world consumers, we have tremendous power. What we 
   collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the 
   course of life and history on this planet. 
 
   (RED) is that simple an idea, and that powerful. Now, you have a 
   choice. There are (RED) credit cards, (RED) phones, (RED) shoes, 
   (RED) fashion brands. And no, this does not mean they are all red in 
   color. Although some are. 
 
   If you buy a (RED) product or sign up for a (RED) service, at no 
   cost to you, a (RED) company will give some of its profits to buy 
   and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to our brothers and sisters 
   dying of AIDS in Africa. 
 
   We believe that when consumers are offered this choice, and the 
   products that meet their needs, they will choose (RED). And when 
   they choose (RED) over non-(RED), then more brands will choose to 
   become (RED) because it will make good business sense to do so. And 
   more lives will be saved. 
 
   (RED) is not a charity. It is simply a business model. You buy (RED) 
   stuff, we get the money buy the pills and distribute them. They take 
   the pills, stay alive, and continue to take care of their families 
   and contribute socially and economically in their communities 
 
   If they don't get the pills, they die. We don't want them to die. We 
   want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it's easy. 
 
   All you have to do is upgrade your choice. (1) 

There is no introduction; only a state of being, a truth. There is perhaps a sequence of events that leads to this particular manifestation of this truth, to this particular representation of the truth--revealing itself now, here--about poverty, about Africa, but perhaps we shall find that traces of this trail of events may speak quite clearly in this event, in any event: "All things being equal, they are not." We could begin, again, by commenting on the rhetorical power of this statement, its syllepsistic reinvention of a hackneyed phrase into the form of a paradoxical syllogism we may well feel familiar with, yet one which arrests our attention in the very moment of making the familiar unfamiliar. It shows what we feel we know in a way we feel we do not know--or perhaps the other way around: perhaps we are confronted with what we should know, or knew but had forgotten, or know, but lack the words to express in the form of aphorism, a summary of truth.

This clever reworking of a common expression makes the reality of the unequal distribution of wealth around the globe, as well as a host of other attendant inequalities, apparent to us, drawing it forth from its obfuscation by politicians and corporations and ideologues and everyday life so it may be here, with us--immanent, graspable, able to be printed on a t-shirt, and requiring no further assessment. For, "all things being equal," the aphorism, having represented truth by re-presenting it, making its truthfulness manifest to us again, lays that truth down as a first principle that must inform and shape all subsequent utterances that relate to it (and perhaps all preceding utterances--those that introduce it--as well). Once we are in the presence of truth there is no escaping it: any inequality we witness or experience will represent this truth, raise it once again to our awareness and conserve its truthfulness. And, all things being equal, we will witness or experience inequality, for the aphorism is true. And perhaps, if the force of this representation is enough, whatever inequality we witness or experience will serve to re-present the inequality experienced by "our brothers and sisters dying of AIDS in Africa." All things being equal.

But they're not, as our aphorism reminds us. This is the very problem that (Product) Red tries to address. The extreme and debilitating poverty (if you will forgive the truism) "our brothers and sisters in Africa" face is such that they are denied access to life-saving medication. …

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