I am not your guest

A poem about guest workers.

From Singapore to Bangladesh.

I am not your slave.

I am not your guest.

I am not a ball to be thrown around.

I am not a barcode to be scanned.

I am more than a contract.

I am more than a work permit.

I am more than a guest.

Globalization left us helpless.

We are those left behind by globalism and neoliberalism.

We are not mobile.

We are trapped in hegemonic systems.

We are the ones sacrificing ourselves, the unlucky ones.

They said the market knows best.

They said shut up and work, shut up and be grateful for progress.

Rising living standards for they but not us.

They have laptops we have mops.

They have technology we have our hands.

They have all the power, all we have is our hands.

We have rich experiences and wisdom, but they reduced us to labor markets.

They detached us from ourselves and put us at risk.

They displaced us in the name of progress, development, and globalism.

They threw us around like cattle and made us hide our name in shame.

They said we would get opportunity, but they destined us for failure.

They detached us from our labor, making us cogs in the machine.

We left the misery of our countries for a better life.

But they set us up for failure.

We came to the north; this may be worse than the south.

They designed our misery through legislation.

They called us unclean.

They called us uncivilized.

They called themselves modern and called us barbaric.

They reproduced colonial logics.

Is this the colonial or the post-colonial?

They are the elite, the technocrats, the educated, the knowledge workers, the exploiters, the north, the labor scare economies, the politicians, the men in suits — where all the power lies.

They are the racists, the corrupt, the ignorant of our humanity.

They would kill us if they could.

They said mobility would make us free.

But our mobility was not on our terms.

Our movement was not on our terms.

This is not mobility.

This is displacement, exploitation, and degradation.

Is this the colonial or the post-colonial?

They said we were essential.

They extracted our labor and left us with nothing left.

They are the smug, the developed, the modern, the high class, the aristocracy, the pompous, the global, the all-knowing — where all the power lies.

But we are just a contract, we are just papers in the eyes of the state.

Affluent labor economies depended on us, but we could not depend on them.

They denied our right to residency.

They denied our right to citizenship.

We wanted a home away from home.

They summoned us from our home, didn’t give us a home, and threw us back home.

In the name of the arbitrary nation state.

In the name of preserving the clean, the civilized, the modern, the knowledgeable, and in essence, the colonial.

They threw us across borders.

They left us disoriented, displaced, dizzy, depoliticized, dehumanized.

We are managed like cattle by technocrats, stripped of our individuality and dignity.

No matter how much we work, no matter how much we put ourselves on the line for them, we are nothing to them.

From the gulf to southeast Asia, they recruited us from the poorer countries to build.

With our sweat and blood, we built their stadiums, airports, and schools.

We made them modern and developed, but they treated us as if we were parasites from the past.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore with all their riches, treat us like bugs.

They treat us as if we are dirt on their shoes.

We are treated as if we are a problem to be solved.

We have as much rights as the air we breathe.

We are excluded from fundamental labor rights and health care.

If I don’t have a visa or a work permit, I have nothing.

I am nothing, I am not human according to the state, according to the “global”.

Where is the U.N sustainability goals?

Is this sustainable?

All we have is debt and sorrow.

Are we global citizens?

Are we even citizens?

Our families back home can send us remittances with technology in a second.

But we are crowded into small spaces.

Is this modernity?

Is this global?

I am not your slave.

I am not your guest.

Free us from these systems, let’s mobilize and make our own systems and spaces.

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Baher Hussein is a Freelance Writer

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