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Monday, May 11, 2020


by Donna Katzin

Smithfield Foods, a US unit of China’s biggest pork company, has reopened its [Sioux Falls, South Dakota] processing plant after President Donald Trump ordered the US meatpacking industry to stay open despite an earlier coronavirus outbreak in such facilities across America. … Sioux Falls was thrust into the spotlight after becoming the largest coronavirus hotspot in the US, with 761 employees testing positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to local newspaper Argus Leader. … Some workers are refusing to return, with union leaders saying new measures put into place by companies, such as temperature checks and face masks, aren’t enough to guarantee individuals’ safety. —South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), May 7, 2020

First they kill the pigs
hanging upside down, squealing,
pleading for their lives.

Owners crave profits,
a president praise, power—
the consumers pork.

The assembly line
opens its maw—people packed    
elbow to elbow.

Workers in the web—                
trapped.  The spider virus spins,
waits for fresh meat.

Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa. A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing. Published in journals and sites including TheNewVerse.News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.