Keeping up appearances.

When the Americans come, we sing, we dance, they take our picture, and they go back and show everyone how they are helping poor black people. But then all they do is hijack our projects and count our children. (227)

South African aid worker Elizabeth Rapuleng, qtd. in: Epstein, Helen. The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa. New York: Picador, 2008. Print.

Income inequality, neo-liberalism, and AIDS.

[Many women in Mozambique] — farmers, market traders, housewives, and so on — form steady, sometimes clandestine relationships with relatively wealthy men in the hope that it will bring them some material benefit, the occasional chicken perhaps, school fees for the children, or favourable deals for a few cabbages. […] These people are so poor, in other words, that sex has become part of their economy. In some cases, it’s practically the only currency they have. (101)

AIDS has been described as a disease of poverty, but it might be more accurate to describe it as a disease of inequality, which settles along the ever-deepening chasm between rich and poor. […] The poor themselves know that money is at the root of their AIDS problem. (101-102)

The World Bank itself admits that the inefficiency of the basic institutions that should serve the poor, including banks, pension funds, insurance companies, courts and real-estate transfer systems, are a major hindrance to economic development throughout the third world. Making those institutions work requires government oversight, and so does rebuilding Africa’s devastated economies. But donor policies emphasizing free trade and small government make regulation of such institutions more difficult. (102)

From: Epstein, Helen. The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa. New York: Picador, 2008. Print.

Raised to fear.

All I know are here are these two tiny little people standing in a river in Northern Ontario as the gods keep watch, or don’t. A drunken east coast stereotype insults a fine-boned French girl of slender means. Problem is, they have both nothing and everything in common. They are hicks. They are broke. They are working at the building site of a hydro electrical generating station for isolation pay at White Dog Falls because the world has nothing else to offer them as yet. It is 1965 and kids their age are rioting in the cities, upending the socio-sexual landscape, but my soon-to-be parents are farm people, terrified of cities, of drugs, of the irreligious, of those who walk around wearing entirely different coloured skin from them. The world is changing, rapidly, dizzyingly, and change is something they’ve both been raised to fear. They have this in common: they want no part of it. (130)

Narrator “Rank,” from: Coady, Lynn. The Antagonist. Toronto: Anansi, 2011. EPUB file.

Class, culture, and “tremendous feeling.”

I don’t make the mistake that high culture mongers do of assuming that because people like cheap art, their feelings are cheap, too. When people say, “Oh, listen, they’re playing our song,” they don’t mean, “Our song, this cheap, tinkling, syncopated piece of rubbish is what we felt when we met.” What they’re saying is, “That song reminds me of the tremendous feeling we had when we met.” Some of the songs I use are great anyway, but the cheaper songs are still in the direct line of descent from David’s Psalms. They’re saying, “Listen, the world isn’t quite like this, the world is better than this, there is love in it.” So-called dumb people, simple people, uneducated people, have as authentic and profound depth of feeling as the most educated on earth. And anyone who says different is a fascist. (121)

English filmmaker Dennis Potter (1935-1994), qtd. in: Marcus, Greil. The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years. New York: Public Affairs, 2011. Print.