Through the lens of cotton, we see the expansion of capitalism as the global process it was, and not as the Eurocentric story we had accepted for all too long. The history of cotton is important in its own right, but even more significantly, it allows us to trace the emergence of the modern world that is so familiar to all of us.
It's a very bad time for racism in the United States. It would make sense to work toward lowering the level of racial tension in the country, rather than inflaming it. It's one thing to honour the fallen soldiers of the American civil war, but it's another thing altogether to insist on waving a flag that to so many, represents violence, hatred and oppression toward African Americans.
Now that Black History Month is over (didn't take long) I feel more comfortable in saying that I very much dislike it. Black people are more than a month, and are more than several prominent black figures. Black history should be a regular part of educational curriculum and media programming, yet it is differentiated and set aside, just as black people were not so long ago. How is this good?
Change is never easy and it often creates discord, but when people come together for the good of humanity and the Earth, we can accomplish great things. Those are the lessons from Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and all those who refuse to give up in the face of adversity when the cause they pursue is just and necessary.
Many of us will come home for the holidays worried about the world we will have to return to in the new year. Dire economic warnings abound. Democracy is being tested across the globe. Insecurity seems to be the only certainty. But Canadians have always found ways to master our fears rather than be mastered by them.
With the recent event at Barney's, New York, it would appear that blacks should add S.W.B. or "Shopping While Black" to the list of supposed crimes for which we are racially profiled. Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old college student purchased a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt at Barney's, Christian alleges that he was stopped by undercover officers, questioned, hand-cuffed and taken to a local precinct.
The phenomenon of black women dismissing their own natural hair didn't happen overnight: the social control and economic exploitation of an entire race could not be ensured only through physical violence (whipping, branding, torture, rape etc.), but necessitated psychological and psychic violence to "convince" Africans that they needed to be "civilized" into the cultural, moral, social and yes, corporeal ways of the European.
Just because William Wilberforce brought British slavery laws crashing down in the early 1800s, we assume slavery has ended. Not so. Children as young as six are forced by their impoverished parents to go into the streets and press anyone to give them money. Some children are forced to carry their newborn brothers and sisters into traffic, zigzagging between stopped cars in traffic jams while pleading for small change.
Canadians clearly love chocolate. Each of us consumes an average of 5.5 kg of chocolate per year. This February, I'm asking Canadians to join me in purchasing chocolate that's free from child labour. An estimated 2-million children work in the cocoa industry. But Canadian chocolate lovers do have several ethical options.
In Django Unchained, the protagonist makes the fictional journey from slavery to freedom in the Antebellum Southern U.S. circa 1858. As President Obama reminded us, Tuesday marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation which announced the end of slavery in the USA in 1863. Toussaint L'Ouverture played the leading role in the real-life drama alongside and his revolutionary army of self-emancipated barefoot slaves, defeating the three great empires of the eighteenth century -- Spain, England, and France -- and finally winning independence after a decade of toil.