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Sweat the Small Stuff: Black Lives Matter Even When You Barely Notice It
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."
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:
2. Invest in Change– Support those on the frontlines and enable them to make a difference. Help fund the most effective projects like:
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- firstname.lastname@example.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.
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© 2015 Dana Ayres