In the thick of Christmastime shopping excess, I stumbled upon http://slaveryfootprint.org/
Though I love Christmastime, socially-obligated gift exchanges are my least-savored tradition. I like buying toys for my 4-year old, because there is a high probability that the effort will directly translates to actual joy, and there are few things I’d rather spend my money on. On the other hand, purchasing and receiving gifts from adults is likely to be awkward, uncomfortable and wasteful.
Also, the modern retail economy is annoying. Why are some things so expensive? Why are some so cheap? Why are so many things so poorly made, seemingly meant to last only a few months? Why are items that I bought at higher-end stores falling apart just like the shit I bought at H&M?
Somehow this curmudgeoned perversion of the Christmas spirit lead to a very uncomfortable discovery. Most of the items I purchase are made by actual slaves.
I suppose I had some peripheral knowledge of the pervasiveness of sweatshops, cognitive dissonance and cultural flow somehow made that an acceptable status quo. Virtually all of my belongings are made in sweat shops, where workers make pennies and face life-threatening work conditions. But something about the word SLAVE snapped me into intelligence. How do I resolve the fact that the cotton that clothes my body was likely gleaned by indentured workers?
I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about what it means to be a white person in the USA, and what responsibilities are necessitated by the full acknowledgement of my privilege. I have a responsibility to educate myself and other members of my community. I have a responsibility to validate the pain of institutional racism & exploitative behavior, the reality of police brutality, and own/acknowledge my own subconscious . I have an obligation to use the powers I have benefited from but done nothing to deserve for the elevation of others.
I have privileges as white person, as an attractive female, as an American, as an able-bodied human. I do not need to ride this privilege rainbow to the mall and buy things made by ACTUAL FUCKING SLAVES WHAT YEAR IS THIS.
So. 2016 will be the year of not buying any clothes* made in a sweatshop or by slaves or by a company that doesn’t care enough to look into it.
*I’m starting with clothes, because I’m not ready to conquer the electronics-blood-supply chain. Coward, yes. One step at a time, I’m not a martyr. I’m just a human attempting to be 25% less of an asshole.