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Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome and Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum - page 7 / 27





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Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations

focused on procuring female migrant labor from the Caribbean. These latter schemes are similar to those that recruit au pairs and nannies from Europe. When the two schemes are compared, it is clear that female migrant workers from the Caribbean are discriminated against while their white European counterparts are offered various services that ease their transition and stay. Canada introduced these labor recruitment schemes earlier and these modest jobs were snapped up by middle class women who sought access to financial resources that were not available in the Caribbean. Thus, these opportunities were parlayed into the accumulation of resources that were not available to colonized people back home. Of course, these labor recruitment schemes were not without incidence. Concentrating on the Second World War schemes, Baptiste shows that the workers in the US resented their treatment under Jim Crow conditions. Some reacted by protesting, and others by engaged in spontaneous uprisings that provoked investigations.

Amy Ashwood Garvey’s critiques are still relevant to contemporary labor procurement schemes that recruit Third World peoples for menial, poorly remunerated positions in domestic service and agriculture. The endemic racism and gender bias that pervade labor recruitment recall the transportation in the slave ships in the Middle Passage, the inequality, endemic coercion, forced labor, and other abuses of slavery, the indentured servitude, broken contracts, discrimination, racism, and segregationism of Jim Crow, and the harassment of activists who like Amy Ashwood Garvey, question the status quo. Labor migrations, whether temporary or permanent, also have unexpected consequences, among which are the creation of new connections, including those of marriage, parenthood, return migration, and many forms of cultural transformation. In many ways, labor recruitment from the Caribbean, whether historically or contemporarily, brings into question the nature of the capitalist world system and the role that each region plays within it.

Clearly, the Caribbean is treated essentially as a labor reserve by both the US and Canada. This region is first and foremost, a source of cheap labor, some documented, but the overwhelming majority, undocumented. The documented migrants have to their advantage, the singular benefit of not having to live in constant fear of arrest and deportation by immigration authorities. They are not necessarily well-paid, neither are they guaranteed good conditions of service, a factor that is glaringly revealed when they are compared with European migrant workers who are recruited to perform similar tasks. The presence of these migrant workers in the economies of the US and Canada make it possible for middle class families to live more affordable, comfortable lives at the expense of women who also may seek these opportunities as for the chance that they offer to make some extra money that can be parlayed into better life chances and opportunities back home. The irony of the matter is that these migrant workers come to pluralist democracies where people supposedly have rights. What options are open to

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