r'hllor's redrum lobster

"My Family's Slave"

83 posts in this topic

i've seen this discussed an facebook amongst some board friends, and a shit ton of meteoric flaming hot takes on twitter, and feel this deserves a topic here. 

for those of you unaware, the atlantic recently published (posthumously) an article by seattle times reporter alex tizon, chronicling the life of Eudocia Tomas "Lola" Pulido, in which he reveals she if fact served as his family's slave for almost 70 years. (the article claims 56 years, but my math says otherwise)

article in question: 

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/lolas-story/524490/

and for further context, the article about her obituary written in 2011 by another seattle times reporter:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/lola-pulido-lived-life-of-devotion-to-family/

 

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After 56 years of Lola's service the slaveholding mother of the journalist died in 1999 although apparently she had started to treat Lola better from the late 1980s or early 90s on. And I guess we can assume that for the last 12 years of Lola's life she was not treated as a slave anymore when she lived with Alex Tizon. This explains the discrepancy.

The horrid thing is that Lola's (or slightly similar stories) are probably still quite common...

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

After 56 years of Lola's service the slaveholding mother of the journalist died in 1999 although apparently she had started to treat Lola better from the late 1980s or early 90s on. And I guess we can assume that for the last 12 years of Lola's life she was not treated as a slave anymore when she lived with Alex Tizon. This explains the discrepancy.

Doesn't explain why he didn't bring it up in his comments for her eulogy. Here's what his colleague had to say about that:

Quote

In retrospect, the obituary reads as a whitewash for a fundamental truth known only to Tizon and his family: Ms. Pulido was a slave.

Even typing those words makes me sick, as does knowing, as I do now, that I wrote about slavery as a love story.

 

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Wow.  How can slavery like this be rooted out?  

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Posted (edited)

By killing every last human on planet Earth. ;) 

Edited by Xray the Enforcer

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I have a lot of thoughts and conflicted feelings on the article, which of course got worse once I had also read that total sham of an obituary. And a lot of questions for the editors who helped craft this story at The Atlantic. It's been interesting watching the varied reactions -- the story is a Rorschach Test, where readers get out of it only what they bring to the table. 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Jo498 said:

After 56 years of Lola's service the slaveholding mother of the journalist died in 1999 although apparently she had started to treat Lola better from the late 1980s or early 90s on. And I guess we can assume that for the last 12 years of Lola's life she was not treated as a slave anymore when she lived with Alex Tizon. This explains the discrepancy.

The horrid thing is that Lola's (or slightly similar stories) are probably still quite common...

yeah, i meant i would consider those last 12 years in slavery as well, no matter how good the author thinks he was to her

Edited by commiedore

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9 minutes ago, commiedore said:

yeah, i meant i would consider those last 12 years in slavery as well, no matter how good the author thinks he was to her

Agreed.  If Tizon really wanted to end her period of enslavement, he would have contacted an anti-slavery organization who would have been able to provide the services and supports to rehabilitate her.  If Lola returned to the family, then at least it would have been by choice.  Because he kept her with his family, she continued to be essentially a family slave.

 

I feel a lot of things with this article.  Outrage, for sure.  I was talking about it with a friend who rolled her eyes and reminded me that I was reading it on a device that was made by workers so exploited that they might properly be defined as slaves.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

I have a lot of thoughts and conflicted feelings on the article, which of course got worse once I had also read that total sham of an obituary. And a lot of questions for the editors who helped craft this story at The Atlantic. It's been interesting watching the varied reactions -- the story is a Rorschach Test, where readers get out of it only what they bring to the table. 

Yes, and people's reactions (including my own) revealed a lot of interesting things about people.  I'm very, very conflicted about (i) the contents of the story, (ii) my empathetic reaction to the story, (iii) parts of the story that resonated with me in an uncomfortable manner (e.g., the neighbor family that knew something was wrong but never did anything, (iv) the way that the story was or was not edited, (v) the contrast  with the obituary, and (vi) the contrast with the narrative of the author's life lived that you otherwise get from his obituary.  I think it is a very, very, very complicated set of issues.

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I don't know what my reaction says about me but it made me very uncomfortable and angry and I'm angry on behalf of eudocia and I'm angry at the author and I'm angry at his mother and his grandfather and everyone involved in keeping this woman in forced servitude for basically her whole life. she never had sex, she nevery had a romantic relationship, she had no friends outside of the family, she was abused for decades and decades where she didn't have a real bed. And then the author, who as well meaning as he might have been, didn't write this until years after her death, the obituary which would hve been an ideal time to bring out the story or at least parts of it and then didn't even think when he finally after half a decade bothered to bring her ashes home in a little plastic box was SHOCKED that people actually cared about her. Even tho Her entire adult life  was spent in slavery she was a person with an identity outside of that family and of course she could have peple who would love and miss and care about her 

It's just made me so uncomfortable 

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2 hours ago, commiedore said:

yeah, i meant i would consider those last 12 years in slavery as well, no matter how good the author thinks he was to her

Assuming everything in the article is true it seemed options were limited and that she did choose it. Being that she declined to stay in the Phillipines when he took her back there.  I guess he could've just handed her off to some sort of charity or government organization which would seem to be nothing more than a nursing home for a woman in her 70s.

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11 minutes ago, Theda Baratheon said:

I don't know what my reaction says about me but it made me very uncomfortable and angry and I'm angry on behalf of eudocia and I'm angry at the author and I'm angry at his mother and his grandfather and everyone involved in keeping this woman in forced servitude for basically her whole life. she never had sex, she nevery had a romantic relationship, she had no friends outside of the family, she was abused for decades and decades where she didn't have a real bed. And then the author, who as well meaning as he might have been, didn't write this until years after her death, the obituary which would hve been an ideal time to bring out the story or at least parts of it and then didn't even think when he finally after half a decade bothered to bring her ashes home in a little plastic box was SHOCKED that people actually cared about her. Even tho Her entire adult life  was spent in slavery she was a person with an identity outside of that family and of course she could have peple who would love and miss and care about her 

It's just made me so uncomfortable 

The thing I noticed is how different people identified with different parts of the story.  I.e., who focused on Alex?  Who focused on Lola?  Who focused on the family and the situation?  There are just so many layers here.  There's the author himself.  There's the author's parents and grandparents.  There's the neighbors.  The stepfather - who sounds like a not so great person, but not from the same culture, so also didn't do anything?  The stockholm syndromy bits of it. The ability of children to accept a way of life and still, if not condone it, enable it, even after shown that it isn't normal.  The fact that there is a mixed legacy here for both Tizon and his mother - who and what were they?  What did neighbors and friends know or suspect?  How easy it was for them not to know and suspect (yay, suburbs!).  The horrid obituary.  The confessional nature of the piece (which, given his death and the fact that he made a point that his mother did NOT confess on her death bed makes one wonder).  Anyhow, it's just really complex in my mind.

 

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 Could she, after a lifetime spent with the same family... who treated her as property, actually choose to leave.  Her family in the Philippines didn't know her because she wasn't even allowed to travel back when her parents died.  She was clearly abused and suffered from her abuse.  The author's statement that she "chose" to stay with his family is so filled with assumptions... but then woud it have been a kindness to send her back to the Philippines to people to whom she was essentially a stranger because of the way she was abused?

As Zabzy says this case is so complicated and disturbing.

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, Dr. Pepper said:

I feel a lot of things with this article.  Outrage, for sure.  I was talking about it with a friend who rolled her eyes and reminded me that I was reading it on a device that was made by workers so exploited that they might properly be defined as slaves.  

Your friend has a point, but that's an extremely hyperbolic comparison. There is some small measure of choice involved with the exploited laborer. Lola had zero voice. Zero options.

Edited by Manhole Eunuchsbane

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1 hour ago, DunderMifflin said:

Assuming everything in the article is true it seemed options were limited and that she did choose it. Being that she declined to stay in the Phillipines when he took her back there.  I guess he could've just handed her off to some sort of charity or government organization which would seem to be nothing more than a nursing home for a woman in her 70s.

This is the worst part, I think. Objectively, sure, you could say she chose to stay with Alex, but what other choice did she actually have? By the time Alex and his siblings tried to help her, she was so beaten down and terrified by the choices given to her. I can forgive a young Alex, but it's much harder to excuse the adult. I am suspicious of how much he really tried to help her rather than assuage his own guilt. It's not enough to tell her she's 'free', there was a lifetime of conditioning to overcome and you don't do that with a few heart to hearts. I didn't see counseling or any type of support offered to her in that article. He didn't have to ask about her love life, he had to have known that she had no time or opportunity to pursue that. He was willfully blind. And that obituary is just gross.

As I was reading it, I was much more understanding of Alex and his siblings, but now I am finding that I don't accept their efforts to help her. It wasn't until she was in her 80s that she was asked if she'd like to visit her home? Yes, I am grateful that they helped her sort her immigration status and tried to give her more independence, but that seems so surface level and easy. I don't condemn them, because it is a very complicated situation, but I'm really not impressed with his part in her story.

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1 hour ago, DunderMifflin said:

Assuming everything in the article is true it seemed options were limited and that she did choose it. Being that she declined to stay in the Phillipines when he took her back there.  I guess he could've just handed her off to some sort of charity or government organization which would seem to be nothing more than a nursing home for a woman in her 70s.

There are A LOT of anti-slavery groups that are dedicated to rehabilitating freed slaves.  Over five decades of conditioning and living as a slave doesn't just go away before one of the former slave owners says you're free.  The options only appeared limited because the author may have faced some sort of consequences or repercussion.  This man was so unwilling to face backlash that he submitted an obituary for Eudocia where he portrayed her as a woman who humbly chose to care for this family for seven decades.  Even now he's not having to answer for it because he's dead.  

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This was a fascinating and heartbreaking read, thanks for sharing.

30 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

As I was reading it, I was much more understanding of Alex and his siblings, but now I am finding that I don't accept their efforts to help her. It wasn't until she was in her 80s that she was asked if she'd like to visit her home? Yes, I am grateful that they helped her sort her immigration status and tried to give her more independence, but that seems so surface level and easy. I don't condemn them, because it is a very complicated situation, but I'm really not impressed with his part in her story.

I agree.  When Alex details his huge "blowup" with his mother when he in his twenties, I expected to read next that he then took firm efforts to provide real aid for Lola.  He did not.

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16 minutes ago, dmc515 said:

This was a fascinating and heartbreaking read, thanks for sharing.

I agree.  When Alex details his huge "blowup" with his mother when he in his twenties, I expected to read next that he then took firm efforts to provide real aid for Lola.  He did not.

It's hard to tell either way just from one person's telling. I'd like to hear what the siblings say about it.  Lola would be in her 50s at that point and so institutionalized or Stockholmed or whatever you want to call it, that how would she respond to being told to talk to a therapist/stranger after decades of being robbed of any sort of social life outside the family or any real technological literacy? 

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2 minutes ago, DunderMifflin said:

It's hard to tell either way just from one person's telling. I'd like to hear what the siblings say about it.  Lola would be in her 50s at that point and so institutionalized or Stockholmed or whatever you want to call it, that how would she respond to being told to talk to a therapist/stranger after decades of being robbed of any sort of social life outside the family or any real technological literacy? 

My problem is not that Lola my be unresponsive to attempts at help, it's that Alex does not mention himself making any such efforts until after his mother died.

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1 minute ago, dmc515 said:

My problem is not that Lola my be unresponsive to attempts at help, it's that Alex does not mention himself making any such efforts until after his mother died.

What would be available in the 1970s -80s? I'm not sure.

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