Wednesday, November 02, 2011

on a serious note

Modern slavery.

I want to say more on the subject, but I honestly cannot calm myself down about this enough to speak rationally.

First, a friend sent me a link to an article about child slavery in the Ivory Coast and the cocoa trade(is your chocolate bar worth the fact that another person has been treated as less than a human being?) I read, I researched. My blood absolutely boiled.

So I researched some more. Then, I swore off chocolate unless it is certified fair trade, because at the very least I can choose not to support companies that enslave people, or support a supply chain that relies on slavery.

And I kept reading.

This is an issue that seems to be popping up a lot lately. There have been a few journalistic pieces on the news. There's lots online.

The more I read, the madder I get. Because apparently swearing off chocolate doesn't do very much. At least, not when you think about the fact that people who are enslaved are forced into the labour that produces your clothes, your electronics, your houses - your everything.

I don't have a link to the source, but this fact literally made my head explode today. There are 27 million slaves in the world today, more than there have ever historically been.

There are 27 MILLION PEOPLE who are not treated with the most basic of human rights? Women, men, children. People born into slavery, sold into slavery, kidnapped into slavery.

Boys stolen from bus stops, sold into slavery and forced to labour in cocoa fields in unsanitary conditions and with little to no hope of escape. Entire countries that force their children from schools come harvest time to pick cotton. Women and girls stolen from streetcorners and airports, sold into sexual servitude. Who are forced into a life of repeated, unending rapes. Adults and children coming to Florida to find work and being put into conditions of slavery picking tomatos.

Let's stop and think about the last one for a second. This is not just something that happens in third world countries. This is not something that is limited to sociopaths, or perverts. There are businesses in the United States of America that operate based on slave labour. I'm pretty sure that at least part of the point of the American Civil War was that people cannot be owned by other people. Ever. It just isn't possible.

I am not unfamiliar with the historical facts of slavery. I know the history of it (though perhaps not as well as I should) as it has occurred in North America. My love affair with the ancient world means I have studied and written essays and reports on slavery in ancient Greece and Rome. In theory, historically, I will admit I was willing to entertain the idea that not every slave owner was a terrible person. On an intellectual level to think that "well, I very much disagree, but those were part of the societal norms at the time".

It doesn't fucking matter what the societal norms are. People are people. There are not ranks of people who are better than each other or lower than each other. On the most fundamental level we are all the same, and we can never forget that. Never.

People. People who aren't that much different from you or I. People who are somebodies' sons and daughters. People who think, and feel, just like you or me. People who are no different from you or me. In no way are these people any less than you or me or anyone.

Except that someone decided that it would be okay to treat them as less than human.

I may have mentioned how angry this makes me?

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