Far Away From Home: Amazon’s Pattern of Abusing the Vulnerable




It was kind of strange for me as an immigrant, to start working at a company that brags about their “technical advances” and the “logistics and robotics” making it sound like they’ve figured out the magic formula bosses have been after since Merlin the sorcerer. I was curious about it. 

We’ve seen the famous scene from the movie Fantasia, how Merlin tries to animate the living objects, to have them “work on their own”. This “miracle” that science and logic are after, Marx has already unveiled for those who want to see. 

One of the things that caught my attention working at Amazon in Shakopee, MN was the strong presence of the Somali community in the shops. Hundreds of Somali workers standing for up to 12 and 14 hours a day, doing the work that the robots cannot. Amazon keeps on pretending that the work and value isn’t produced by the workers, but by some nonexistent fully automated process.

There’s an old lady who would have given me the impression of just finishing a long walk across some hills in sub-Saharan Africa, bringing their goats and children back into the communal housing and making dinner. Why are they here imitating robots? I couldn’t figure it out. I can’t help but think, how have they become robots in Jeff Bezos’ model of society?

Elsewhere in the land, closer to the Equator, I got to work yet at another Amazon warehouse, where the same pattern of taking advantage of a vulnerable community repeats itself, only this time it’s the Haitian community. 

What do both Haitian and Somali communities have in common? Both have been invaded by the United States, forced into genocide, massive war crimes against civilians, cholera, medieval plagues, massive raping, famine, starvation, COVID, common graves, a miserable existence organized and orchestrated by the US government and military to submit their struggle for economic and cultural independence. 

The situation both in Somalia and Haiti is so out of control that the US government is obliged by international law, after slaughtering a nation (like it did in Vietnam) and imposing subhuman levels of existence for millions, to allow a few hundred thousand to be saved for “humanitarian reasons” and taken into US territory for “protection”. 

This is how the Somali population got to Minnesota. Unwillingly, obligated, forced, murdered and raped. Same for the Haitian population in Miami. 

And yes, now they get to sell their labor in the American labor market, to Amazon. Forced again to do 12 hour shifts with brutal physical requirements to “please the customer”, all in the service of one white man who takes all the wealth. 

Now Amazon plans to fire 18,000 workers. 

Can you imagine the life of those who have been taken from their homes in western Africa by the circumstances created by the US government, to get here to be exploited beyond imaginable for years, thrown to the street in the coldest January in Minnesota? 

It’s a bit far away from home.

But just as Merlin in the “Apprentice of Wizard” scenes, the powers unleashed by capital are untamable.

As bad as it all sounds, the organizing of a new Amazon Union in Minnesota will be a new form of citizenship for the Somali workers who are obliged to work with no rights for Bezos. 

But really in the end, this rotten system will burn so good, as strong are our reasons to ignite the fire. 

Carlos B., Amazon worker. DSA Member.