Though the chocolate may melt in my mouth, I still have blood on my hands. A few weeks ago I was supposed to give a talk at Oakland University on Everyday Justice drawing from themes from Julie Clawson’s book by the same name.
As I did research, read her book and scoured online articles and websites I thought about themes on everyday justice that would connect most with students living in the affluent suburbs that border derelict Detroit; While cars and clothing might have been good choices for a school where students sport coach tennis shoes & drive Escalades but chocolate seemed like an easier thing to tackle in a 30 minute talk on why following Jesus means we should care about justice issues.
I started to dig a little to find out how purchasing one of my favorite sweet treats can be a choice for everyday justice. I felt like Neo being sucked into the Matrix for the first time, without the creepy plug being inserted into the back of my neck- “you think you see the world correctly? Well, let me show you what’s actually going on…” I started to learn some things like:
- 43% of the world’s chocolate comes from the West African country of Ivory Coast. Most of the cocoa beans are harvested by young boys between 12 and 16, some as young as 9. These boys have been sold or tricked into slavery with the promise of a better life and supporting their family. Stories like Brahima and Siaka’s are common: “Dote Coulibaly was waiting in Korhogo. He needed two boys to work on his cocoa and coffee farm. Coulibaly (COO-lee-baa-lee) said he bought Brahima and Siaka for $28 each, but the boys said he paid that much for both of them. Whatever the price, two days later they found themselves on his farm. “When we arrived, he had not told us the whole story,” said Brahima. “He told us we would work only in the cocoa and coffee fields. But there were also cotton, yam, corn and rice fields. When you finish one field, you go to another and another.” Nearly half of the world’s cocoa beans come from Ivory Coast farms, some of which use boys like Brahima and Siaka who were sold or tricked into slavery to do the harvesting.”
- Americans spent $13 billion a year on chocolate- yet most of us, including myself had no idea where it came from or how it was produced (uhhh, I bought the twix at Walmart…?)
- Though the U.S. and international governments have been working to establish slave-free chocolate through initiatives created in 2001 like the Harkin-Engel protocol, little has been done in companies like Nestle, Hershey or Mars to actually comply with these protocols and eliminate slave-produced chocolates in their goal of doing so by 2005.
While over the past six years I have worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff and students to raise awareness about and funds to eliminate child sex slavery- I’ve realized the issue doesn’t stop there. Especially now as a mom I am horrified and angered to think that the bunnies and eggs I am stuffing my sons easter basket were produced by someone’s son or brother who was forced into slavery. The chocolate may melt in my mouth, but I still have blood on my hands.
As a Christian, I care about this issue and ending human trafficking at large because Christ’s love compels me to love my neighbor. Thinking about the injustice and sacrifice of others makes me think about how to appropriately celebrate Easter this year, both commercially and spiritually. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 especially hits home in thinking about both of these issues; “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”
Because God made a way to demonstrate love and freedom for me through Jesus, how can I do anything but demonstrate this same love for others?
Practically one of the ways you can live out everyday justice regardless of your spirituality or motivations is to use your cash. There are great companies that provide fair-trade chocolates especially for Easter. Since I really am a sucker for advertising, I was thrilled to realize many products are also cute & kid-friendly.
The Natural Candy store, a mom & sister store has a lot of cute items for Easter that are fair-trade, organic and in many cases allergen-free, including the cute item pictured above.
Divine Chocolate also has some fun Easter themed candies, like one of my personal faves- the crunchy speckled eggs that you can order through their website or purchase at Whole Foods. Divine has a cool story & their website is worth checking out to see some of the great things that are being done to change the chocolate industry. Though it may be something small like spending less on Easter Candy at Target, it really does feel great to know you can be part of changing the chocolate industry, savor the chocolate as it melts in your mouth, and know that you are creating a better future for others.