31 January 2013 by Richard
Unfortunately we had to cancel the planned event with the artist Nicola Green at the Walker Art Gallery on Friday 18th due to the bad weather. However, before the venues closed I was able to give Nicola and her friends and family a tour of the International Slavery Museum. Amongst the group was the singer Beverley Knight who had a very thought provoking visit and David Lammy MP – long time supporter of the International Slavery Museum. It’s a lot to take in for some people on their initial visit, and they might experience a number of emotions, so I am sure that many of the group will come back in the future.
I recently came across an article in the New York Times which made me think long and hard about my own place in the chain of exploitation. I refer to the human cost of our gadget crazed society of which I am a confirmed disciple. It is positive that some large companies recognize there are often issues with their supply chain, and many of them are working towards eradicating this. Is it fast enough? Is the will really there? It is hard to say but actions speak louder than words. But we should also take some responsibility. We have a duty to query, to question, to scrutinize, when we buy such products. If members of staff don’t have the answer about the source of materials or how something is made, ask them why not?
We, the consumer, should be aware for instance that the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world’s leading producers of cobalt and columbo-tantalite (coltan), commodities in great demand as they are used in the production of electronic devices. We should be aware that as a result exploitation of workers and the environment is rife in a country savaged by years of war and political instability. Only when there is a tangible shift in public awareness, opinion and practice, where we the customer demands transparency and constant action, will there truly be a shift in corporate ethics. You might also want to take the following test to see what footprint you are making: http://slaveryfootprint.org/
Bye for now,
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