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Sweat the Small Stuff: Black Lives Matter Even When You Barely Notice It

Updated on June 14, 2016
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I am an active freelance writer and business owner. I have a BA in English and writing is my first love and my highest service.

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Can You Handle It?

While it's no secret that Africa is the world's source for seemingly unlimited and precious natural, as well as, human resources, many African Americans seem to be unaware of just how closely modern-day African slavery and human trafficking effect our everyday lives. As I write this, we are smack dab in the middle of a Civil Rights Movement of the New Millennium, #Blacklivesmatter. Now, taking into consideration the struggles that African Americans go through concerning racism, should we not then take into consideration how we unwittingly contribute to slavery on a pan-African scale? The Motherland is bereft with greedy, international corporations looking to turn huge and quick profits off of forced and under aged human labor. We boycotted certain products that were unique to South Africa and South African companies to stand in solidarity with our oppressed kindred in those lands. It's easy to forgo a pair of Reeboks or drink Pepsi instead of Coke, but can you give up chocolate? Would you do it if you knew a young African child's life hangs in the balance?

Nope, this is not a Sally Struthers commercial. According to a UNICEF study, there are approximately 700,000 children and women trafficked around the world annually, 200,000 of which are children taken yearly from West and Central Africa. Two African countries notorious in the cocoa trade are Mali, where the kidnapping of innocent children occurs and Cote d'Ivoire, where the children are shipped into forced labor. The work is grueling and the children receive little to no pay. They are poorly nourished and exist in inhumane and unlivable conditions. The children are locked up at night to prevent escape and many never see their families again after they are stolen. To show how lucrative the cocoa trade is, American.edu reports that the chocolate business is Cote d'Ivoire's primary trade averaging 600,000 cocoa farms to be harvested. Nearly 15,000 children are needed to do the work, usually young boys ranging in ages between 12 and 16 to harvest the cocoa beans from which chocolate is made. Extreme poverty is a driving force in the ease at which children can be bought and sold. As we African Americans historically understand all too well that the children are totally and deliberately stripped of their dignity in the process. To make matters worse, UNICEF reports that Cote d'Ivoire is the leading exporter of cocoa beans to the world market, so "the existence of slave labor is relevant to the entire international economic community."

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The Addiction of Consumption

Who's duplicitous? The Ivorian government, American and European chocolate manufacturers (Nestle, Lindt, Hershey, etc.) or consumers, like ourselves, who purchase chocolate totally ignorant of the inhumane atrocities that occur in order for you to indulge your "fix."

So, when most of us who aren't allergic to chocolate consume vast quantities of it yearly, how do you become conscious and "kick the habit?" As Africans in this hemisphere, we should be concerned about this and demand action to eradicate the enslavement and state-sanctioned torture of Black children.

Slavery in the 21st century is a multi-billion dollar, worldwide enterprise. Many people are taking an active stand against modern-day human trafficking. According to BlackCelebrityGiving.com, Jada Pinkett-Smith, mother of teen pop singer, Willow Smith, stated that fighting slavery doesn’t cost a lot of money. The costs of allowing it to exist in our nation and abroad are much higher. It robs us of the thing we value most, our freedom...

Here are 4 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking and Support the Efforts of ending its existence:

1. Educate Yourself and Tell others–Research on your own at websites such as:
www.faastinternational.org
www.freetheslaves.net

2. Invest in Change– Support those on the frontlines and enable them to make a difference. Help fund the most effective projects like:
www.ijm.org
www.gracehavenhouse.org
www.sharedhope.org
www.purplewings.org

3. Watch– If you suspect slavery or exploitation, call the National Trafficking Hotline: 888-3737-888.

4. Advocate for change – call or write your elected officials. Tell them that you care about the issue of human trafficking and want stronger laws to protect victims. Get news from www.polarisproject.org on how to engage in political action and advocacy- P.O. Box 32489 Newark, NJ 07102. Tel- 973-624-5454; email- nj@polarisproject.org.

So the next time you're haggling over a Snickers, a Milky Way or whether to get the mocha latte instead...

Remember, Black lives matter...globally!

Hope that helps. Share your thoughts.

Check Out this Revealing Short Film...

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© 2015 Dana Ayres

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    • profile image

      Norine Williams 19 months ago

      The Federal Government sees this movement as a "terrorist attack!" What we (ColorOfChange.org) currently know about the government’s surveillance of the Black Lives Matter movement is just a small fraction of their actual surveillance. We are going to do everything we can to expose illegal surveillance tactics by the FBI, DHS and local police forces.

      List being compiled but "STAND!"

    • wrenchBiscuit profile image

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 20 months ago

      Yes, we could live comfortably without any number of commercial products and services. But the key word here is "addiction". The American public, and the world, are addicted to materialism, comfort, and convenience.

      Many even define freedom as the ability to have access to a never ending stream of consumer products. It has become their only reality, and they will even fight to defend it. I am sickened by what I see, and your story is shocking to me because it makes me realize that it is far worse than I thought.

      I fear pain, but I am not afraid to die. In fact I will welcome death. It is not only because of all the misery I have seen and also experienced myself, but it is also because a majority of the people in this world appear to be mindless robots. I will live on after my body is folded back into the dust, but I do not want my next life to be in a backward , evil world like this. That is my constant prayer. Osiyo!

    • kndashy41 profile image
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      Dana Ayres 20 months ago from Houston, TX

      Hi Messenger. Because of the extreme poverty there, it's also not uncommon for families to hire out the services of their children, as well. The country is poor and cocoa is the only export, according to the base article. Slavery is a common practice. They may not outright call it that. The govt is secretive about it. They also steal children from other nearby countries. Maybe that's why he didn't notice.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 20 months ago from The Great Midwest

      Revealing hub. I once worked with someone who was a missionary in Cote d'Ivoire for many years. He never mentioned slavery there. My guess is he probably didn't know.

    • kndashy41 profile image
      Author

      Dana Ayres 20 months ago from Houston, TX

      Clever, as well as greedy, Biscuit. Consumerism, mass production and capitalism are the offspring of psychological manipulation of the masses through images and symbolism propped up by mass media. Who the hell really NEEDS chocolate that bad, anyway? Thoughts?

    • wrenchBiscuit profile image

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 20 months ago

      Very interesting. I had no idea, and I have never heard of this. Just one more reason to hate greedy people.

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