How can any business pay poverty wages, knowingly use child labor, participate in funding violence, or pollute water on which communities depend? How can any company withhold life-saving medicine for the sake of profit? I asked this question to Emira Woods at the Institute for Policy Studies as I was preparing for the Economic Action for Africa issue of the Green American. Her answer: “they don’t even see the people and their needs.”
My research for the Quarterly opened my eyes. I began to see the people whose lives are behind the coffee, jewelry, chocolate, rubber, and other everyday products in all our lives, and it was a revelation. Below is my recommended reading list – some of the resources I found most helpful in understanding commodities' journeys from African communities to our own communities – plus links to more articles from Green America on economic action for Africa.
Recommended Reading List:
African Communities and Everyday American Products
For more resources and information on the various commodities featured in Economic Actions for Africa, select from the list of product categories below:
Shouldn't It Be Illegal?
Corporations violating human rights in Africa run afoul of the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows non-citizens to sue in US courts over violations of international law. We report on suits against the cocoa, rubber, and oil-and-gas industries, brought by the non-profits EarthRights and the International Labor Rights Fund. Read more»
Finding Peace Through Fair Trade: Mirembe Kawomera
Watching as his Ugandan neighbors found themselves unable to maintain their farms, J.J. Keki saw a cooperative as a chance for members of his community to preserve their livelihoods. We tell you how Keki recruited his neighbors — Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alike — into a Fair Trade cooperative beneficial to all. Read more»
Divine Chocolate Asks: Who Should Own Africa's Wealth?
How would life be different for African producers if they owned the companies manufacturing products out of their vital raw materials? As the world’s only chocolate company majority-owned by cocoa farmers in Africa, the makers of Divine Chocolate have set out to answer that question. Read more»