...34567...1020...


The Pandemic of Racism in America – City Watch

They are sick and tired of systemic racism against Black people, of bigotry at the top, crude discrimination, police brutality, a prejudiced criminal justice system, economic disparity, and societys robbing black people of experiencing real freedom and equality. Hypocritically, white people blame the victims of racism for their own plight, claiming that Black people would do better in life if they were only willing to work harder.

We are now reaping the harvest of the seeds of racism and discrimination -- the devaluation of Black life. The whole socio-economic and cultural system is lopsided, as it lacks the fundamentals of justice and equality. The pandemic provided the wakeup call that pointed out the ugly tradition of subjugation of the Black community, which sadly did not stop with the end of slavery, but continued in the wanton indifference to their pain and agony, our uncanny negligence, and our failure to understand what they are really experiencing.

Ingrained racism

The fact that Black people were slaves, and the carefully cultivated myth that slaves were always obedient and happily served their white masters, left an indelible imprint on white people that has lasted generations. They maintain that African Americans were born to servitude and hence they do not qualify for equal treatment, equal opportunity, and equal status.

Films such as D.W. Griffiths immensely influential Birth of a Nation (1915), which helped to reestablish the Ku Klux Klan, also reinforced the racist stereotype that Black men are unintelligent and an inherent danger to the white community -- specifically white women. When on May 25 (the same day George Floyd was killed) a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the cops on a Black man, Christian Cooper, who was birdwatching in Central Park, she was tapping into the long history of that racist trope. To put it plainly, Black lives are simply not valued the way white lives are, as white people consciously or subconsciously view Black man as both sub- and supra-human, threatening, and expendable.

Thus, due to this entrenched prejudice, any activity, however innocent, in which a Black man is engaged in invites suspicion, alarm, and often puts the life of Black men in danger such as 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by white residents of the suburban Georgia neighborhood he was jogging in. The mayor of Minneapolis bluntly said, Being black in America should not be a death sentence. Racism, to be sure, is so ingrained it flows in the veins of many Americans without notice.

The insidious, learned biases pitting white against Black Americans directly leads to the treating of Black Americans as second-class citizens and suppression by white Americans -- a necessary ingredient that satisfies their ego and elevates their self-worth. Although the majority of white Americans may not be white supremacists, they certainly hold onto their privileges in all walks of life as they view their relation with Black people (and other people of color) as a zero-sum game, as if a Black mans gain invariably chips away at a white mans privileges.

Wanton discrimination

Racial prejudice in America takes a heavy toll on African Americans, which translates to discrimination in all walks of life, including education, job opportunities, professional advancements, and medical treatment, especially maternal health. Black workers receive 22 percent less in salary than whites with the same education and experience; Black women receive even less34.2 percent. According to a University of Chicago/Duke 2016 study, when factoring in all African American and white men (inclusive of those incarcerated or otherwise out of the workforce), the racial wage gap is the same as it was in the 1950s. Even where racial discrimination should not occur, in medical treatment, when Black patients access medical care, doctors regularly prescribe fewer pain medications and believe Black patients feel less pain than white patients, even among veterans seeking care.

Whereas Black men have served in the military and fought and died alongside white soldiers in every war since the Revolutionary War (when 5,000-8,000 Black soldiers fought against the British), they had to face the revulsion of discrimination and segregation while still serving in the military, hardly recognized for acts of bravery. Indeed, until 1948 -- after the end of WWII -- the U.S. military was entirely segregated. While the top brass of the military, who are mostly white, like to claim that military institutions are colorblind, the reality is that racism and discrimination remain extensive problems even in the U.S. military.

Police brutality

Although police brutality against Black men in particular, which instigated the current protests, is a known phenomenon, police killings of Black men continue unabated. It can and has taken different forms historically including harassment and intimidation, assault and battery, torture and murder, and even complicity with the KKK. Often, police officers approach any situation connected to a Black man with apprehension and fear. White police officers see threats where they do not exist; they are too quick to draw and as quick to fire to kill.

Here are just a few glaring examples: a Black man taking a nap in a car in a parking lot was shot dead. Another pulled over in a traffic stop was shot and killed in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. A Black man sitting in his home eating ice cream was shot dead by his neighbor, an off-duty white police officer. A Black woman playing video games with her nephew was shot and killed through her window. A Black woman (and EMT) sleeping in her home was shot eight times when officers entered her apartment executing a no-knock warrant.

It is rare for a prosecutor to decide to charge a police officer, especially because they often know each other and have developed close working relationships. Even Internal Affairs divisions of police departments, which ostensibly exist to investigate and report misconduct among officers, have widely conducted sub-standard investigations and failed to identify problem officers who commit wanton abuse.

This cultural pattern enables police officers like Derek Chauvin, Daniel Pantaleo, and Nathan Woodyard to commit the heinous crime of slowly squeezing the life out of George Floyd (MN), Eric Garner (NY), and Elijah McClain (CO). As troubling is the fact that police officers have been known to give false testimony in court, whether to avoid punishment for their own criminal and/or unconstitutional actions, to ensure a conviction, or for other reasons.

Disproportionate incarceration

Although the U.S. judiciary is considered to be just and impartial, in most court hearings race is present albeit it is not spelled out. It is as though Black men inherently have no equal rights and to this day, 230 years since the constitution was written, injustices still exist in both federal and state courts.

Blacks are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites -- while they are 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they constitute 40 percent of the total male prison population. The mass incarceration of African Americans in this country has created what sociologist Becky Pettit, citing the novelist Ralph Ellison, calls invisible men -- the millions of black men in the American penal system. Prison inmates are not included in most data-collecting national surveys, so these men are effectively invisible to social institutions, lawmakers, and most social science research. It is almost as if they do not exist, they do not count; their reality is ignored, neglected, and brushed aside.

A staggering 75 percent of young Black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lives. These statistics can only begin to convey the enormity of the injustice that is being compounded day after day. Pettits book reveals that penal expansion has generated a class of citizens systematically excluded from accounts of the American populace. This exclusion raises doubt about the validity of even the most basic social facts and questions the utility of the data gathered for the design and evaluation of public policy and the data commonly used in social science research. As a consequence, we have lost sight of the full range of the American experience.

Economic disparity

Economic disparity between white and Black Americans is glaring and reverberates through generations of Black families. Economic exclusion is the source of inequality. It is caused by a confluence of factors, beginning with nearly 250 years of chattel slavery (during which Black families were torn apart, let alone able to accumulate wealth), to sharecropping and unrestrained lynchings, to 90 years of Jim Crow laws, to redlining neighborhoods on demographic lines. All of these factors are manifested today in hiring decisions, property valuation, mortgage applications, interest charges, and even how credit scores are tabulated. The average white familys net worth is more than ten times greater than a Black family. Economic disparity, to be sure, is the mother of all evil in the lives of Black people.

A poor Black man cannot pay for decent housing, cannot pay for health care, and cannot afford to send his kids to higher education, which directly impacts his social standing and professional competency. Thus, he has to settle for menial jobs, low wages, and little or no prospect of ever climbing out of the vicious cycle. The saddest thing of all is that he is blamed for his own dilemma, as if the conditions and lack of opportunities in which he lives has nothing to do with his sorry state of affairs.

The bigotry of the leadership

During the past four years, racism in America has been on the rise and in no small measure Trump, the Racist-in-Chief, has made race a campaign issue from the very start. He began his political campaign by branding Hispanics as rapists; in his presidency he banned Muslims from entering the US, cruelly separated children from their parents at the borders, described white supremacists in Charlottesville as very fine people, and celebrated this 4th of July by defending Confederate statues.

Trumps racism against Blacks in particular is nothing new. It was there in 1973 when Trump Management Inc. was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination against African American renters. We could see it in 1989, when he took out a full-page advertisement in four New York City newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty over the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. Trump refuses to apologize for that, even though, as Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck said, . . .by calling for the reinstitution of the death penalty, it contributed to an atmosphere that deprived these men of a fair trial. He also refused to apologize for his persistent perpetuation of the birther lie that Obama was not born in the U.S.

Trumps Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore was laden with racially divisive and partisan rhetoric, but that makes no difference to many conservative Republican leaders and his misguided supporters who follow him blindly. They wrap themselves with the flag as a sign of American patriotism, when in fact their patriotism is defined by their racism and intolerance of people of color.

Although some Republican leaders disagree with him on race, they are fearful of his anger to say anything publicly, lest they risk losing their power or position. Sadly, their silence suggests consent, which only reinforces Trumps racism. With Trump, as with much of the country, racism is deeply ingrained, something he refuses to admit.

Although racism did not start when Trump came to power as it is imbued into Americas history and culture and it will not end with his departure from office, his overt racism brought to focus racism in America. The persistent protests reveal the deep sense of frustration with a president who fans the flame of racism, who sees the country as his own enterprise, who does whatever he wants to serve his own interests. He is cruel, cunning, and careless about the pain and suffering of Black America; he cannot count on their political support and hence completely rejects their outcry.

Unlike any other protests in the past against racism, this years protests have had a greater impact in part due to the spread of the coronavirus and its disproportionate impact on Black people, who are being infected and dying at higher rates than whites. That, and in conjunction with a presidential election, provides a rare opportunity to start a process of mitigating racism in earnest. What will be necessary, however, is for the protests to persist through Election Day in the hopes that the Racist-in-Chief will be ousted. Only then we stand a better chance that a new day will dawn and a new administration will commit to relentlessly addressing the plight of Black people for the sake of all Americans, especially because the day when America will have a majority of people of color is fast approaching.

Although there are scores of measures that must be taken and many years and huge financial resources to make a discernible change for the better in the life of Black Americans, we have no choice but to start, regardless of how insurmountable the obstacles and the culture of resistance to change. It will take the collective efforts, determination, and consistency of local, state, and federal authorities to begin this process if we ever want to reach a modicum of equality.

The work to change the culture of innate racism in America will be long and hard, but we must not shy away from it. As a small start, the immediate focus should be on educating students about Black history, changing the police culture and training, investing in housing in Black neighborhoods, offering educational support for young Black boys and girls starting at elementary age, up to providing free education for them to attend college or professional schools, and providing job opportunities and equal pay to give them the chance to climb up the social ladder over time.

The continuing demonstrations throughout the country suggest not only the obvious -- that Black lives matter -- but that racism is consuming America from within, that injustice affects the perpetrators just as much as the victims, that enough is enough.

(Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.) Photo: MF_Orleans / Shutterstock.com. Prepped forCityWatch by Linda Abrams.

Go here to see the original:

The Pandemic of Racism in America - City Watch

European Countries Lead the World on Ending Extreme Poverty. But That May Change With COVID-19: SDG Report – Global Citizen

Why Global Citizens Should Care

Theres a few things that countries in Europe areextremely good at: Europeessentially has a monopoly on football; it's the second biggest music market in the world; and when it comes to tackling poverty and its root causes, a new global report says Europe comes out on top.

Much like its position in football and music, this is, at first glance, nothing new. Last year, European states accounted for 13 of the top 15 countries in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Index ranking progress towards ending extreme poverty by 2030, including evaluating factors that contribute to it, like hunger, health care, and gender equality.

The report assesses how countries around the world are doing in terms of progress towards the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (a.k.a. the Global Goals) 17 objectives that work together towards ending extreme poverty and its systemic causes by 2030.

And in the 2020 report, Europe has locked down the entire top 15 in the ranking of 196 countries. Previously, the only non-European inclusions were from Japan and New Zealand. Now, theyve been edged out by Ireland and Switzerland. The only other switch-up has been Iceland falling out, replaced by Belgium.

All rosy in Europe then, right? Well, not entirely. But prior to the deep dive, lets examine the progress of the top three countries in the SDG Index all Nordic states spread around the Baltic Sea.

After finishing second last year, Sweden has made progress on poverty, gender equality, good health, and many other areas to pip Denmark to the top spot in 2020.

However, while the report scores Sweden highly on clean energy since its population has electricity access and renewables play an important part in its energy supply it states that major challenges remain on climate change with its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Its a criticism that persists across every country in the top 15: not a single top ranked state has scored outside of the red zone on climate, in line with the UNs Global Goal 13 on climate action.

Sweden also scores poorly on "responsible consumption and production with its levels of electronic waste and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, a pollutant emitted from burning fossil fuels. But overall, Sweden is an example to follow with low poverty, protected biodiversity, major internet connectivity, and universal health coverage.

Denmark came out on top in 2019 and maintains its high position thanks to its low poverty rates, relatively low income inequality, and lack of malnutrition and stunting in its children.

However, like Sweden, it scores poorly on climate and other emissions including CO2, SO2, and nitrogen. Denmark is also marked down on life below water, as it catches fish by trawling, and was ranked 46th in the world on the Ocean Health Index.

Moreover, much more work still needs to be done on obesity, getting more women into science, and supporting a population overburdened by rent payments. But progress is still happening on academic research and wider gender equality including the gender wage gap and family planning access.

Typically, Finland is a world leader in education: theres no standardised testing until youre 18, teachers must have at least a master's degree, and private schools have been abolished. That success is echoed in the SDG Index with high rates of primary school enrollment, high secondary school completion, and top mathematics, science, and reading ability.

Theres also positive feedback on clean water (like healthy sanitation access), justice (such as incarceration rates and public safety), and labour rights (including low numbers of modern slavery victims).

Despite this, there was dissatisfaction in Finland with public transport, and it was marked poorly for its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA basically, its aid spending). And, like every other country in the top 15, much more needs to be done to make progress on climate.

While the world is on the precipice of immense change, Europe may actually suffer the most dramatic reversal of progress. The SDGs league table in 2020 may very well be an entirely different beast to the ones we see in the coming years.

Thats because of a little thing called COVID-19. You might have noticed that the countries many might have thought would deal best with the pandemic for example, those with the strongest health systems, like Britains National Health Service (NHS) have not quite fulfilled those expectations.

Related Stories July 20, 2020 African Countries Are Leading on Climate Action as Developed Countries Fall Behind: SDG Report 2020

So while Britain remained in 13th position on the SDG Index in both 2019 and 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the UK has endured the third worst death toll from coronavirus in the world (45,273). Only the US (137,674) and Brazil (77,851) have seen more deaths during the pandemic so far.

Likewise, France (fourth in the SDG Index but with the sixth highest COVID-19 death toll) and Belgium (11th in the Index and 12th on deaths) may see a similar decline. The two European states have had 30,046 and 9,800 deaths respectively as of July 20, which may very well influence how their health systems and education sectors fare in years to come.

And while European progress may stall, there have been rapid lurches forward among eastern and southern Asian countries including South Korea and Japan since the SDGs were first established in 2015. Perhaps even more important is that the report highlights how these countries have responded best to the COVID-19 pandemic too.

So while the economic turmoil sparked by the virus leaves global progress towards achieving the SDGs in danger, these Asian states have given themselves a real head start. In turn, that suggests that, unlike their European counterparts, theyre better placed to deliver the SDGs going into the future.

This is especially true as progress made on the SDGs in Europe since 2015 despite European countries topping the tables on overall indicators has actually been close to the bottom: sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East have all improved at a far superior rate since 2015 compared to all the countries currently in the top 15 of the SDG Index.

All of the top 15 countries are whats known as OECD countries meaning, they are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an agency that helps set the standards of aid spending so it focuses on poverty alleviation. In practical terms, OECD countries are the richest countries with a responsibility to lift up the poorest. So in that respect, perhaps they also have the least room to grow: their poverty levels were already historically low.

Related Stories July 17, 2020 Some African Countries See Progress in Ending Extreme Poverty, But Many Face Massive Challenges Ahead: SDG Report 2020

However, when you compare the countries in the top 15 of the SDG Index to the 15 states with the best early responses to the pandemic, just six European countries stay on top: Estonia, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, and Finland. In fact, from March 4 to May 12, the best performing country in controlling the pandemic was South Korea that also just so happens to be on the cusp of the top 15 in the SDG Index too, in 20th place.

So what next? Well, the World Bank says that for the first time in 20 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 60 million because of the pandemic.

The virus has touched all aspects of our society: school closures will worsen education outcomes for children; health systems creaking under pressure will mean more excess deaths more generally; and sluggish economic recovery will mean mass unemployment, more poverty, and further entrenched inequalities.

Related Stories May 5, 2020 COVID-19: What 2030 Could Look Like If We Dont Control the Pandemic Now

All in all, progress on the SDGs will invariably suffer everywhere. But it could potentially be far more palpable in Europe, where many countries still struggle to shake outbreaks through the summer.

But and this is a colossal but if countries in Europe can focus on aligning their pandemic relief and recovery plans with the SDGs, focusing on things like international cooperation, hunger and malnutrition, social safety nets, and health care, then the COVID-19 crisis could be used as a springboard to facilitate the necessary radical change to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Heres the top 15 countries all from Europe, and all OECD members on the SDG Index:

1. Sweden (84.72)

2. Denmark (84.56)

3. Finland (83.77)

4. France (81.13)

5. Germany (80.77)

6. Norway (80.76)

7. Austria (80.70)

8. Czech Republic (80.58)

9. Netherlands (80.37)

10. Estonia (80.06)

11. Belgium (79.96)

12. Slovenia (79.96)

13. United Kingdom (79,79)

14. Ireland (79.38)

15. Switzerland (79.35)

This year marks 10 years to go until the 2030 target to end extreme poverty and achieve the targets set out under the SDGs. With the release of the Sustainable Development Report 2020, were taking a deepdive into the successes weve already made and barriers that still exist when it comes to achieving the SDGs and ending extreme poverty by 2030.You can find our Sustainable Development Report 2020 content serieshere.

See more here:

European Countries Lead the World on Ending Extreme Poverty. But That May Change With COVID-19: SDG Report - Global Citizen

Analysis: why can’t fashion wash out the dark stain of modern slavery? – Drapers

Cramped sweatshops where garment workers toil in unsafe conditions for unfair wages should be a scene confined to history books. Yet the fashion industry has once again been mired in repeated allegations of modern slavery and exploitation across textile factories in Leicester in recent weeks.

It started with Boohoo Group, owner of Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing, Karen Millen, Oasis, Warehouse and Coast. Earlier this month, a report by campaign group Labour Behind the Label and an undercover investigation from The Sunday Times claimed factories producing for the ever-expanding fast fashion empire did not adhere to Covid-19 social-distancing rules, told workers to come to work even if they showed symptoms of the virus and paid workers as little as 3.50/hour.

Boohoo Group brands were temporarily delisted by wholesale partners including Asos, Next and Zalando as a result of the allegations. The group has launched an immediate and independent review of its UK supply chain, and pledged to invest 10m to eradicate malpractice.

Quiz believes one of its Leicester suppliers had used a subcontractor, which was paying staff the illegal wages

Days later, another investigation by TheSunday Times found workers producing for fellow fast fashion retailer Quiz in Leicester were being offered 3/hour to make its clothing. Quiz said it was grateful that the alleged breaches had been highlighted, suspended activity with the supplier in question pending a full investigation and committed to a full review of its auditing processes. It added that it believed one of its Leicester suppliers had used a subcontractor, which was paying staff the illegal wages.

Allegations of illegal working practices in the UKs garment-manufacturing trade are not new: similar incidences of low wages were exposed in a documentary from Channel 4s Dispatches in 2017.

If you go back at least five years, there have been concerns about the textile industry in Leicester, as well as in London and in Manchester, about a whole range of labour abuses, Dame Sara Thornton, the UKs independent anti-slavery commissioner, tells Drapers. These range from health and safety issues right through to the most serious of crimes, which include labour exploitation and modern slavery.

So why is the fashion industry still failing to tackle the issue of labour abuses and exploitation? Thornton explains that the number of different bodies involved in preventing and enforcing anti-slavery legislation complicates the issue.

There have been attempts and operations from various organisation to do something [about modern slavery]. One of the issues is that enforcement falls to lots of different organisations: local councils, HMRC, the Health and Safety Executive, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the police, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the National Crime Agency. It is always very difficult to get a unified approach across lots of different organisations.

The second difficulty is that many of the victims are from overseas their English might not be very good and they might not be very confident. They may have taken low-paid work because they believe it is their best option, or weve also heard of unscrupulous employers persuading workers they are best off accepting low wages and then also claiming Universal Credit benefits. Any enforcement we do has to be about building trust and a relationship with these victims, who are also often worried about being deported because they havent got secure immigration status.

The complexity of the fashion industry can also make stamping out slavery difficult, adds Mark Sumner, lecturer in sustainability, retail andfashion at the University of Leeds, who has previously worked as a sustainability specialist at Marks & Spencer.

Fashion is an industry of industries: it is very closely connected to agriculture for the production of raw materials such as cotton, to the chemical industry for dyes and to the garment-manufacturing industry in a vast array of developed and developing nations. A garment could have been through five different countries, all with different legislation and definitions of modern slavery, before it ends up on the shop floor. With that level of complexity, it shouldnt be surprising that there are issues.

"When you sit in your office in London or Leeds or Leicester or Manchester and place your order, you might do as much as you can to manage those issues but its an uphill battle because of the complexity and opaqueness of supply chains.

Tamara Cincik, founder and CEO of lobby group Fashion Roundtable, adds: Laws around modern slavery are very difficult to enforce. Theres been a massive reduction in the number of police, which makes things more difficult. Theres also questions about how regularly garment factories are being checked by different organisations, if theyre being checked at the right times and if they are looking in the right places.

One former high street boss tells Drapers: The reason nothing has been able to be done before is because this has all been thrown toward the manufacturing side, but action on modern slavery has also got to have retailers backing, too. And the workforce has got to understand this as well. Its just such a complex issue and I think more rigorous legislation is required to ensure transparency across the supply chain and workforce.

Existing legislation is also failing to eradicate modern slavery. In addition to the mandatory National Minimum Wage, introduced in 1999, and the National Living Wage, which should prevent workers being paid illegally low wages, the Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2015. It requires all UK businesses with an annual turnover of 36m or more to publish an annual statement setting out the steps they are taking to ensure slave labour is not being used anywhere in their supply chains or anywhere in their business.

Speaking at an evidence session for the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for ethics and sustainability in fashion earlier this month, Mick Cheema, general manager of Leicester-based supplier Basic Premier, stressed his frustration that existing laws are not creating a level playing field.

Im trying to run a business and I should be worried about offshore competition. I shouldnt be worrying about people on our doorstep who are supplying goods at lower prices. Its an open secret and they are allowed to carry on. Why hasnt the HMRC or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority got to the root cause?

I should be able to have discussion with retailers about price based on best practice and getting the best styles, quickly. There are laws that mean this shouldnt be happening. We should be able to fly the flag for British manufacturing proudly.

Part of the problem is that the Modern Slavery Act lacks teeth, experts tell Drapers. Although the government suggestssix areas businessescancover in their statements including due diligence processes and the parts of the business at risk there is no legal requirement to do so. There are no penalties for non-compliance and no central depository where different statements can be compared. A review into the Modern Slavery Act last year found severe deficiencies in how data is collected under the act. The Fixing Fashion report published last year by the environmental audit committee also proposed strengthening the Modern Slavery Act, but the government rejected the recommendation.

The Modern Slavery Act relies on the media, and non-governmental organisations to call out non-compliance, explains University of Leeds Sumner. When MPs ask why someone isnt doing something about modern slavery, it is because they would not allow the act to have sharper teeth. Weve also found that the act wants businesses to say: I have found issues of modern slavery and this what weve done about it. In fact, brands in clothing and in indeed any industry are reluctant to do that for fear of being lynched by the media.

Modern slavery is one of the most complicated and challenging problems facing fashion today. Drapers will be turning the spotlight on this shameful side of fashion online and in future issues.

See original here:

Analysis: why can't fashion wash out the dark stain of modern slavery? - Drapers

Foreign Farm Workers Already Face Abusive Conditions. Now Trump Wants to Cut Their Wages. – In These Times

Wednesday, Jul 15, 2020, 10:25 amBY Maurizio Guerrero

GREENFIELD, CA - APRIL 28: Farm laborers with Fresh Harvest wash their hands before work on April 28, 2020 in Greenfield, California. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Pedro, a laborer from Chiapas, Mexico, worked 13 hours a day picking blueberries on a farm in Clinton, North Carolina. He had no time off, except when it rained.

"We had no Sundays," Pedro (a pseudonym to protect his identity after he breached his visa agreement) says in Spanish. Working from May to June under the H-2A visa program for guest farmworkers, he saved only $1,500.

According to Pedro, his work conditions and payment violated the contract he signed when he was recruited by a middleman in Mexico. Still, he could not quit his job. The H-2A program requires guest farmworkers to work only for the employer or association that hires them.

Pedro was entitled to a $12.67 per hour wage with no overtime, according to the H-2A provisions for North Carolina. However, Pedro says he never received more than $425 a week, or about $4.60 per hour.

"They took away our passport as soon as we arrived," Pedro explains. His employer tried to dissuade Pedro and his workmates from quitting the job. Still, he ran away, leaving his passport behind.

"Never in my life [have I] worked this hard, not in Mexico City or back in the fields in Chiapas," Pedro says. Undocumented and with no official identification, Pedro now works at a construction site in Georgia. "All the other guys stayed in the farm," he says. "They are afraid of being deported. They don't want to get in trouble."

Pedro's story is all too common. The wage provisions in the H-2A program are "routinely" violated, according to the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Farmworker Justice, and, as a recent Center for American Progress report put it, the lack of labor protections for foreign farmworkers like Pedro are already "particularly dangerous." The H-2A program has led to so much abuse of workers that many liken it to modern-day slavery.

Now, things could get even grimmer, as the Trump administration is proposing to reduce the statutory pay rate for H-2A workers, just months ahead of the presidential elections.

Workers' wages are already extremely low by any measure, even when compared with similarly situated nonfarm workers and workers with the lowest levels of education, an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report found in April.

Wage cuts

North Carolina is among the top recruiters of H-2A guest workers in the United States.The state, like the rest of the country, has grown increasingly dependent on this labor force. Nationwide, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of H-2A visas approved since 2005, climbing to 258,000 in 2019. Most of these workers are Mexicans or Mexican-Americans.

The growing reliance on H-2A visa farmworkers is often linked to a shortage of local labor, even among the undocumented population that comprises at least half of the U.S. agricultural workforce. The reality could be more problematic.

H-2A visa holders "are seen by employers as very productive. Employers often say they are better workers than the locals, but it has nothing to do with their performance," according to Bruce Goldstein, president of the farmworkers' rights group Farmworker Justice. "It has to do with the fact that the H-2A visa workers are not free."

Even undocumented workers, who are not necessarily tied contractually to their employers in the same way as H-2A workers, have more legal recourses to obtain compensation if they claim workplace abuse, according to Goldstein. H-2A workers are excluded from the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), the main labor law that protects farmworkers. That's why, he says, H-2A guest workers are "very desirable by employers."

To satisfy the agriculture industry's desire for guest workers, the Trump administration, contradicting its anti-immigration stance, relaxed the rules around H-2A hiring and exempted farmworkers from a broad ban on foreign labor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, the U.S. Department of Labor is considering publishing changes that would recalculate guest workers' wages. According to Goldstein and to publicly posted information, the changes could come as early as August.

Instead of using a labor market survey, the proposal would allow farms to hire workers at an arbitrarily lower wage rate, according to Farmworker Justice. In Florida, for example, the $11.71 per hour wage would be cut by $3.15.

Though Congress could stop these changes, the Republican-led Senate makes this a remote possibility. Another option is taking the administration to court, although the outcome would be far from certain, Goldstein explains.

"The only rational explanation for lowering the wages of H-2A farmworkers right now is corporate greed and unquestioning subservience to agribusiness on the part of the Trump administration," according to the EPI report.

If implemented, the wage cut would come even as farm owners received as much as $23.5 billion in federal aid due to the pandemic.

The new guidelines would mean that workers deemed "essential" and expected to keep working amid the pandemic, would risk their lives for even less money and no mandate for employers to provide them with Covid-19 protections.

Unfree labor

Violations of the H-2A visa holders' rights are "rampant and systemic," according to a 2015 Farmworker Justice report. The Department of Labor "frequently approves illegal job terms in the H-2A workers' contracts," its findings show.

Five years after the report, the guest workers' conditions remain unchanged, according to Goldstein. They are similar to the ones under the Bracero Programthrough which millions of Mexican farmworkers labored in the US from 1942 to 1964which was ultimately terminated because of its notorious abuses, including wage theft, according to the report.

Even when employers comply with the contract obligations, H-2A farm laborers are among the nation's lowest-paid workers. The Covid-19 pandemic has made their jobs even more dangerous.

Farm owners are not mandated by the federal government to provide protective equipment or enforce social distancing in often overcrowded and unsanitary housing facilities, despite the risks to foreign workers' health, according to Anna Jensen, executive director of the nonprofit North Carolina Farmworkers Project. (State guidelines vary across the country.)

It's not unusual that laborers are only given one option to buy food, regularly overpriced, or that workers cannot receive visitors, says Jensen. Its also common that the employers do not reimburse H-2A workers for traveling to the U.S., she adds, a practice that is very often illegal.

The violations often start in the hiring process. Two of the former deputy directors of the North Carolina Growers Association, the largest recruiter of H-2A farmworkers in the state, pleaded guilty in 2015 of fraud related to the program. Another infamous North Carolinian farmworker recruiter, Craig Stanford Eury Jr., also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

Many H-2A workers, who aspire to return to the U.S. farms in the following seasons, do not mention their mistreatment for fear of being blacklisted by employers. But even if they wanted to, filing complaints "is really difficult," Jensen says.

The North Carolina Department of Labor operates a complaint hotline, open only from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, making it "not very accessible" for many migrant workers, according to Jensen. Twelve to 14-hour workdays, six or seven days a week, make filing a claim virtually impossible for guest farmworkers.

"The H-2A is an inherently abusive program," Goldstein says. It practically assures employers that even workers who do not stand the poor treatment will not complain, even when their passports are taken away, which could be considered an act of slavery or peonage, according to Goldstein.

If the Trump administration follows through with its plans, workers like Pedro could be forced to labor under these conditions while taking home even less money than they already make.

Continue reading here:

Foreign Farm Workers Already Face Abusive Conditions. Now Trump Wants to Cut Their Wages. - In These Times

COVID-19 is Shedding Light on the Relationship Between Bangladeshi Suppliers and the World’s Largest Apparel Brands – The Fashion Law

Over the past three decades, global inequality has reached a critical level. Multinational fashion companies have securedbillions of dollarsby moving production locations abroad and using supply chains in developing countries including Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar, where labor costs are very low. The revenues of each of the 25 biggest companies arelargerthan the GDPs of some countries. Despite this, the lives of most of the workers involved in production for many of these companies have not improved.

Many have described the conditions of garment workers in countries across the globe asmodern slavery, and their enduring plight is becoming particularly clear during the current coronavirus pandemic. According to thePenn State Center for Global Workers Rights, at least one-quarter of garment workers in Bangladesh or an estimated 1 million people have been fired or furloughed because of declining global orders amid the coronavirus crisis; many have been laid off without pay. Others, such as those in the supply chain of Boohoo Group, are reportedly being forced to work in unsafe conditions.

Over the past 15 years, Muhammad Azizul, a professor in Sustainability Accounting and Transparency at the University of Aberdeen, has been investigating corporate accountability in relation to the lives of those who work in factories that supply garments to major western companies.In conducting interviews with workers rights NGOs, social auditors appointed by multinational companies and those owning and working in garment factories in Bangladesh that supply goods to big multinational companies including Walmart, H&M, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Target, Reebok, Kmart, and Kohls, among others, Azizul and his colleaguesfound thatfor the most part, despite all the social audits, social responsibility disclosures and moral narratives that companies use, workers economic and human rights have not improved.

In fact, as Western retailers revenues continue to balloon (revenue for Walmart, for example, topped $514 billion in 2019, while Zaras parent company Inditex generated sales of $31.9 billion, up by more than $2 billion from the year prior), and factory owners inBangladesh which is home to thesecond largestgarment production market in the world after China, with the sector accounting for80 percentof the countrys total export earnings becomeultra-richas a result, the working conditions and standards of living for the individuals who labor in garments factories are seeing little improvement.

In 2018, amid international pressure in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster, Bangladeshs government raised the minimum wage for garment workers. Despite such a legally-mandated raise, the new minimum wage is stillextremely low, and far below the living wage, which has prompted pro-worker NGOs and civil rights organizations to protestthe massive exploitation, slavery and human rights negligence within the garment manufacturing industry.

While the government raised wages, factory owners and industry leaders similarly protested, albeit for a different reason. Many baulk at the idea that the cost of production could become any higher. One factory owner thatAzizul interviewed, asserted in connection with the wage increase, If there is a stringent regulation that leads to costs of production being higher, multinational corporations will leave for another country where they can find cheaper products. Factories in Bangladesh are getting more offers than ever before asmultinational companiesare leaving China, as its cost of production is getting higher because of Chinese living standards. So, if somehow the cost of production becomes higher [in Bangladesh], the reality is that manufacturers will lose contracts, as there is no long-term commitment bymultinational companies.

This same factory owner reasons against any increase in production costs by indicating that profit maximization protects national economic interests. To him, more profit means more export earnings, more foreign reserves for the country, and a more stable economy. But this seems to go hand in hand with risking workers basic economic and human rights. In Bangladesh, the idea that national economic interest is at stake appears to be more of a concern than the protection of workers rights.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as the garment industry has also changed Bangladeshs political system. Businessmen are increasingly finding roles in parliament. After Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971, 13 percent of MPs in the countrys first parliament (1973) were businessmen. By 2014, this had risen to59 percentby 2014 and to 61.07 percent in 2018.The massive participation of businessmen in the past two elections both of which have been criticized overboycottsand allegations ofvote rigging has given the country a new shape.

In 2020, this has come to a head. The export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh comprises more than 4,000 factories and five million workers, the majority of whom are women. The industry earns approximately$35 billioneach year by supplying garments to western companies. While such trade has already boosted the huge economic power of factory owners, the coronavirus pandemic is leaving workers in a much more vulnerable position than factory owners.

Western multinational companies have started cancelling orders, some reportedly without paying for production costs already laid out. Millions of workers are facing destitution having beensent home without pay. As of April, more than$3 billion in orders to around 1,150 factories were in limbo, leaving around 2.8 million workers, mostly women, facing poverty and hunger. In order to complete those orders not yet cancelled, some owners have keptfactories openthrough lockdown without scope for proper social distancing. Restrictions for factories were then relaxed in May despite theincreasing numberof coronavirus cases in Bangladesh. Understandably,many fearthat more and more workers will get infected in the factories.

Some of the biggest retail companies have taken todelaying paymentsand asking for discounts from factories with potentially catastrophic consequences for the women who make their clothes. Neither government nor factory owners nor even the multinational companies are taking clearresponsibility for workerswho were sacked or lost their jobs from factories.

All the while, as the working conditions and the leverage that multinational retail companies have over their suppliers make headlines across the globe largely as a result of heightened awareness in connection with COVID-19, it is worth remembering that these situations do not differ significantly from the status quo, and that inequality between western suppliers and factory owners, and the individuals tasked with making out clothes has been growing, pandemic or not.

Muhammad Azizul is the Islam Chair in Accountancy, and a professor in Sustainability Accounting and Transparency at the University of Aberdeen. (Edits/additions courtesy of TFL)

Go here to see the original:

COVID-19 is Shedding Light on the Relationship Between Bangladeshi Suppliers and the World's Largest Apparel Brands - The Fashion Law

COVID-19 has let the virus of inequality run rampant – World Economic Forum

COVID-19 entered a world already struggling with unprecedented levels of inequality.

There can be no return to the neoliberal order that was 'normal' prior to the crisis.

Higher taxation, expanded healthcare and labour rights are just the start of the reforms needed.

Meet Sampa Akter. She sews clothes for global brands in Bangladesh. As with millions of others, she was sent home in March with no pay as COVID-19 canceled orders. Ninety-eight percent of buyers said no to paying lost wages, rich multinationals included. Some are paying now. More factories have reopened. But women like Sampa across the industry, who already lived pay cheque to pay cheque, now face wage cuts. They fear hunger more than sickness. Not all are hit equally, however. It takes a top fashion brand CEO four days to earn what Sampa does in a lifetime.

Think of Jason Hargrove, a bus driver in Detroit, US. He posted a video expressing his frustration about people spreading the virus. Days later, he died. Black Americans, making up a disproportionate number of bus drivers, have been killed at three times the rate of white people by COVID-19. In the UK its four times. Two times if youre ethnic Pakistani. Again, not all are equally hit. If you live in a rich area, your chance of dying of COVID-19 is halved.

Now consider billionaires. If the richest man on Earth made a pile of all his wealth in $100 bills and sat on top, he would be in outer space. US billionaires are half a trillion dollars richer than when the pandemic began. Were seeing similar trends across the world. This at a time in which half a billion people face being pushed into poverty, amid the world's worst recession since the Great Depression, according to the IMF. By December, more people could die each day from hunger linked to coronavirus than from the disease itself.

Such extreme differences define our divided world. They also explain this inequality virus. But its seen as improper to speak out politically, as our families have been hit personally. That politeness looks increasingly like a fig leaf, stopping us from asking hard questions.

Is it not time to get talking again about the economic model that betrays us? About the role of billionaires, and an extreme and widening gap between the richest and the many? COVID-19 entered a world that hasnt seen such concentration of wealth since the days of robber barons and empire. This great divide has made the 99% of us less safe as a result.

It is time to talk, too, about how our great challenges share roots in inequality. The plunder of our planet for profit by a tiny few. White supremacy and racism that systemically excludes people of colour from safety and opportunity, and is used to divide us. Sexism and patriarchy that exploits womens unpaid care work and cheap labour, like that of Sampa, for profit. The democratic breakdown caused by elites buying policies, politicians and a pliant media.

The increase in wealth for America's richest during the pandemic exemplifies global inequality

Image: Institute of Policy Studies

In recent years, Oxfam has charted the rise of extreme inequality.

A world in which 1% of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99% will never be stable, said President Barack Obama at the UN in 2016, citing our new data.

By 2017, based on the data at the time, we showed that eight billionaires just eight men then owned more wealth than the bottom half of the global population, 3.7 billion people.

By 2019, our data revealed how billionaire fortunes were growing by $2.5 billion each day, while the wealth of half the world, collectively, had dropped by over 10%.

I hope these data are taught in classrooms some day soon, recalling a foolish era we must never return to. Neoliberalism for four decades told us GDP would be good for us all, but it was mostly good for the rich. It told us cutting regulation, taxes and labour laws would offer freedom, but instead it gave us fear. It got rid of referees and left the bullies in charge.

Some wish to return to normal after the coronavirus. Normal is a world in which 10,000 people die each day for lack of access to healthcare what chance did we have to beat COVID-19? while the richest still try to privatize our public health. In which governments, lobbied by big business, undermine the unions we rely upon more than ever for security at work, with 85% of governments violating the right to strike. In which weve long been hurtling towards climate apartheid, with the carbon footprint of the top 1% 175 times that of the poorest 10%.

Aiming to restore the pre-COVID-19 normal is to forget why 2019 saw protests against inequality all over the world. Our economic models need transformation, not restoration. The Financial Times recently called for radical reforms to reverse the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades. They are right.

Change is coming. Neoliberalism faces its reckoning. But the old way will not die fast. Those who burned down forests will lecture us on planting seeds. Greed-washing will be in vogue.

So we must be explicit. A better future relies on our actively and significantly redistributing the wealth and power of the 1% to everyone else. A great reset for our world must be a great equalizer. One that ends the billionaire boom, creating hope for a post-COVID-world.

We know what works. Quality public healthcare, for free, for all. High and inescapable wealth taxes, as rich people are now calling for. A universal labour guarantee that protects workers and ensures a living wage.

Go further yet. Sledgehammer emissions cuts towards net zero. Recognize care work as real work and pay care workers who do the vital work of caring for our children, parents and the vulnerable a living wage. Begin exploring reparations for slavery and colonialism. Regulate who owns, and benefits from, innovative technologies. Grow equitable business models. Go beyond GDP to well-being, as New Zealand has. These are supposedly radical policies that leaders are already trying. It is achievable. Its exciting.

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forums annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forums work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Above all, it means rejecting a failed economic model that this inequality virus has not forgiven us for. Its time for a far more equal, sustainable and truly human economy that works for all.

See more here:

COVID-19 has let the virus of inequality run rampant - World Economic Forum

My Turn: How racism thrived after the war – Concord Monitor

In a recent and valuable My Turn, Katy Burns wrote about the Souths Lost Cause campaign launched several decades after the Civil War. Its efforts to glorify slavery and the Confederacy included the erection of most monuments currently targeted by the rapidly emerging Black Lives Matter movement.

The column speaks of northerners going home to work after the war while southerners sulked for years until launching their campaign, but this jumps over some important matters and I want to describe two of them.

First, the home that northerners returned to was highly racist. The war, after all, was fought over chattel slavery, not over racism, and most northerners shared the racial stereotypes of southerners. Recently I looked at an event in Indiana, the state where I grew up, and it illustrates my point. In 1850, Indiana held a constitutional convention. At it, delegates adopted Article 13 that prohibited Black people from moving to Indiana and also created a fund to remove free Black Indiana residents to Liberia.

Almost every speech during the five-day debate on the Article referred to Black inferiority and white supremacy in terms nearly identical to those of southern defenders of slavery. In 1851, the electorate adopted the new constitution overwhelmingly. Article 13 was voted on separately and adopted 113,828 to 21,873. At least five other northern states adopted equivalent constitutional amendments of legislation at about that time.

My second point is that the South didnt sulk after the war. Its planter elites immediately set out to snatch what victories they could from the jaws of defeat, and they had substantial success. For example, they sought and obtained the return to planters of 850,000 acres of land confiscated by the Union Army, preventing its redistribution to freed men. Planters frustrated the implementation of another land redistribution act, the Southern Homesteading Act.

Their efforts helped curtail the life of the Freedmens Bureau, a remarkable Reconstruction program that helped many ex-slaves gain education, the vote, and work. The program lasted only four years (and its schools an additional three years).

The South lobbied to remove northern troops and end Reconstruction, something it accomplished in a dozen years.

But the biggest challenge to the planter elite was regaining their earlier wealth. Before the War, the South was the richest region in America primarily because of King Cotton. In 1860, for example, cotton accounted for $191 million of the nations $333 million of exports. England, textile capital of the world, bought 80% of its cotton from the South.

Cotton was also vital domestically. For example, the 1860 Census reported that New Hampshire had investments of $23 million in 150 types of industries including over half ($12.5 million) in cotton goods manufacturing. Cotton alone accounted for 12,700 of the states 32,000 manufacturing jobs.

The planters key roadblock to regaining their prior wealth was, of course, the loss of the machines that had made that wealth possible slaves. Yet by 1870, just five years after the end of the War, cotton was again the nations largest export and would remain so until the Great Depression. This amazing victory from the jaws of defeat occurred because the South found an immediate cheap labor substitute for slaves ex-slaves. The story of how this happened is important.

In the decades leading to war, northern abolition efforts intensified; e.g. rapid growth of the Underground Railroad and attacks on slavery such as Uncle Toms Cabin. But during that same period, southern defenses of slavery escalated. Traditional defenses based on God, Nature, prosperity, science, and Christian humanity became more aggressive, but most importantly, the South devised a major, new defense.

It characterized the emerging system of industrial capitalism in the North as wage slavery, criticized it harshly, and argued that its own economic system of chattel slavery was superior and far more humane. The argument was pointed and its rhetoric often acerbic as seen, for example, in these excerpts from early southern sociologist George Fitzhugh. The northern system gives license to the strong to oppress the weak (and creates) the grossest inequalities of condition. Fitzhugh saw the strong as vulgar landlords, capitalists and employers psalm-singing regicides, these worshippers of Mammon (who) think they own all the property (and that) the rest of mankind have no right to a living except on the conditions they may prescribe.

The weak were wage slaves such as women and children (who) drag out their lives (in) the bowels of the earth [i.e. in mines] harnessed like horses. pallid children (who work in) some grand, gloomy and monotonous factory fourteen hours a day, and go home at night to sleep in damp cellars, the same cellars where aged parents too old to work are cast off by their employer to die.

Industrial capitalism created such evils as income ceases if a worker gets sick; laborers are at war with one another; child labor is common; retailers take advantage of ignorance and charge enormous profits; underbidding (by workers) never ceases resulting in wages too low to subsist and ending by filling poor-houses and jails and graves. Frequent riots and strikes were other problems as was widespread begging. One writer noted that you meet more beggars in one day in any street of the city of New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South.

The imagery of the wage-slave defense is as stark as Harriet Beecher Stowes attacks on slavery, and the arguments are ones that any socialist or union organizer would have made. In fact, these arguments would soon mobilize a progressive challenge to big industrial capitalism in the North beginning in the Gilded Age (1880 1910).

But what is most interesting about this southern attack on wage slavery is that, when the war ended chattel slavery, the South immediately adopted wage slavery in its place. Under slavery, slaves were property controlled by owners. In the new order, ex-slaves were freemen (free employees, sharecroppers, or tenants) controlled by contract.

The new scheme was possible because emancipated slaves deprived of promises of land desperately needed a way to survive and were readily exploited through contractual arrangements. Heres a simple example signed weeks after the wars end:

I, the within-signed woman of color, do hereby bind myself with E. W. Reitzell as laborer on his plantation from this the 1st day of August, 1865, to the 1st day of January, 1866. I further agree and bind myself to do all the work he may require of me, to labor diligently and be obedient to all his commands, to pay him due respect, and do all in my power to protect his property from danger, and conduct myself as when I was owned by him as a SLAVE.

These labor contracts, together with various techniques that forced freed men to renew them, confined millions of black farmworkers to southern plantations for two or three generations beyond the war until the Great Depression and after.

(Paul Levy lives in Concord.)

Read more:

My Turn: How racism thrived after the war - Concord Monitor

Poor working conditions ‘afflict 10000 people in Leicester’ – Personnel Today

Photo: Shutterstock

As many as 10,000 people could be working in conditions commonly associated with modern slavery in textile factories in Leicester, an investigation by Sky News has alleged.

Leicester City Council believes there to be about 1,500 textile factories across the city. Most are small businesses, essentially workshops that are housed in ageing, dilapidated buildings, such as the citys old Imperial Typewriter factory.

The east Midlands city was put under renewed lockdown restrictions on 30 June and it is thought that working conditions at many of the textile works may have contributed to the localised outbreak of Covid-19.

It is widely suspected that many of the businesses do not pay workers the 8.72 national minimum wage.

Deputy city mayor Adam Clarke called for government action and added that the working conditions in the workshops was not so much an open secret as just open.

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe told Sky News she had been contacted by anonymous workers who were too scared to speak out publicly because many were fearful of losing their jobs.

Machinists are being paid 3 an hour, packers are being paid 2 an hour. That is what seems to be the standard, she said.

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen told the broadcaster there was a conspiracy of silence that had allowed factories in the city to continue to exploit workers over many years.

The internet retailers have flourished during the Covid crisis because their competition has been shut down. So weve seen a huge extra demand for the products, said Mr Bridgen. He added that there had been a systemic failure of all the protections in Leicester that would prevent this from happening.

The governments Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating allegations some factories forced people to work in unsafe conditions during lockdown.

Modern slavery took many forms, said Brigden, much of it hidden, but this type of exploitation people being paid well under the minimum wage, having to work in unacceptable conditions that sort of abuse has to be stamped out, it has to be examined, we have to follow the evidence and prosecute wherever possible.

Clarke made the point that enforcement of anti-slavery laws was made more difficult by the complex network of bodies involved. He said: There are just too many organisations, HMRC [HM Revenue & Customs], the GLAA [Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority], the HSE and others have enforcement responsibilities. There needs to be one enforcement body and that needs to be set up as quickly as possible.

This is a systemic issue that is borne out of poor regulation, poor legislation and exploitation at every level, he added. You have to ask yourself who actually has the power to change this? And that buck stops with government.

A Home Office spokesperson said: The National Crime Agency and others are looking into the appalling allegations about sweatshops in Leicester and the home secretary has been clear that anyone profiting from slave labour will have nowhere to hide.

We have regulations but they are not being policed properly. Its also the responsibility of consumers if you buy an incredibly cheap t-shirt then you know someone has been exploited Cherie Blair, campaigner and barrister

Fast-fashion firms based in the UK have come in for increased scrutiny as sales have boomed during the lockdown amid allegations over working conditions. Quiz said it had suspended a supplier after claims that a factory in Leicester offered a worker just 3 an hour to make its clothes.

It followsa report in the Timesthat an undercover journalist was told by a factory making Quiz clothes she would be paid below the minimum wage.

Quiz said if the claims were accurate, they were totally unacceptable.

Last week, Boohoo faced criticism after a report that workers at a factory supplying goods for one of its brands could expect to be paid as little as 3.50 an hour. Boohoo has stated it is investigating its supply chain to establish where points of vulnerability exist.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) is one of the bodies trying to ensure regulations were being followed in factories in Leicester, initiating its investigation following concerns about how some businesses in the city have been operating before and during the localised lockdown.

It said multi-agency visits involving officers from the GLAA, Leicestershire Police, Leicester City Council, National Crime Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue and Immigration Enforcement had been carried out within the past few weeks.

So far, it said, no enforcement had been used during the visits and officers had not yet identified any offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

GLAA Head of Enforcement Ian Waterfield said: We would also encourage the public to be aware of the signs of labour exploitation and report their concerns to us, by calling our intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or emailing intelligence@gla.gov.uk.

According to campaigners the Medaille Trust, there are about 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.

Leading human rights barrister and campaigner for womens and workers rights Cherie Blair told Sky News today that not only were workers being exploited but so were taxpayers, because of the benefits paid to low paid workers. She said the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 was groundbreaking but there had been a failure to police it and toughen it up, with the government failing to give it real teeth after a review of the Act last year made 80 proposals to give it more muscle. She said since 2010 there had only been seven prosecutions of people not paying the minimum wage.

She added: There have also not been anything like as many factory inspections as there should have been. We have regulations but they are not being policed properly. Its also the responsibility of consumers if you buy an incredibly cheap t-shirt then you know someone has been exploited. It is also the responsibility of companies buying products from these factories. Boohoo [which denies it has broken any law], for example, has a very nice glossy modern slavery statement but the reality of the industry is different.

Read more from the original source:

Poor working conditions 'afflict 10000 people in Leicester' - Personnel Today

Modern Slavery is Never Out of Fashion: Child Labour in the Clothing Industry – Byline Times

As part of his regular series on modern slavery, James Melville looks at how many of the garments we wear rest on a supply chain of child exploitation and misery

The received wisdom about slavery is that it is a thing of the past; a crime against human rights but a relic from an imperialist colonial era. But slavery still exists in many forms today and still affects millions of victims.

Fast fashion giant Boohoo is facing an investigation into accusations of modern slavery after it emerged clothing workers at factories in Leicester, UK, were being paid just 3.50 an hour. An investigation carried out by The Sunday Times last week claimed that textile workers producing clothes for Boohoos suppliers were being paid far below the UK minimum wage (9.30) while working in unsafe conditions.

Labour extracted through force, coercion, or threats produces some of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the mobile phones that we hold

Even in the present day, men, women and children all over the world remain victims of modern slavery. They are bought and sold in public markets, forced to marry against their will and provide labour under the guise of marriage, working inside unfit-for-purpose factories on the promise of a salary that is often withheld, or toiling under threats of violence. They are forced to work on construction sites, in stores, on farms, or in homes as maids. Labour extracted through force, coercion, or threats produces some of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the mobile phones that we hold.

There are an estimated 40.3 million people more than three times the number of victims of the transatlantic slave trade who are living in some form of modern slavery, according to the latest figures published by the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation. Children make up 25% of this total and account for 10 million of all the slaves worldwide.

Around 260 million children are in employment around the world, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Of them, the ILO estimates that 170 million are engaged in child labour, defined by the UN as work for which the child is either too young work done below the required minimum age or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is altogether considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited.

The ILO estimate that there are 6 million children are in forced labour.

We are all unwittingly consuming products that have their origins in slavery. Consumers are often unaware that its hidden in the supply chains of everyday products, such as smartphones, laptops, shoes, chocolate, makeup, coffee and the supply chains of western clothing brands.

According to the Global Slavery Index, the fashion industry is one of the biggest promoters of modern slavery in the world. Clothing is the second-highest product at risk of being made by modern slaves. G20 countries imported $127 billion fashion garments identified as at-risk products of modern slavery. Slavery in the fashion world can appear in a variety of forms from harvesting the cotton for a t-shirt, spinning the fibre to yarn, sewing the garment and modelling the final product to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS 29 A YEAR

Many large fashion brands and companies do not have full control over their supply chains, thus making illegal work practices possible (including sweatshops, trafficking and servitude).

As the Guardian reported in 2015 in a Unicef sponsored article Child Labour: Fixing Fashion mass-production fashion has engendered a race to the bottom, pushing companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour. That cheap labour is freely available in many of the countries where textile and garment production takes place.

Corporations often build their factories in developing countries to keep their costs low, which leads not only to the use of slave labour but also the use of child slave labour. In countries like India, where textile and garment production occurs, childrens small hands are better suited for picking cotton, and sewing cheap garments for the fast fashion industry only requires a minimal amount of skill.

Children work at all stages of the supply chain in the fashion industry: from the production of cotton seeds in Benin, harvesting in Uzbekistan, yarn spinning in India, right through to the different phases of putting garments together in factories across Bangladesh.

In the cotton industry, children are employed to transfer pollen from one plant to another. They are subjected to long working hours, exposure to pesticides and they are often paid below the minimum wage.

75% of 219 brands surveyed did not know the source of all their fabrics and inputs

As Josephine Moulds wrote in the Guardian : One of the biggest challenges in tackling child labour in the fashion supply chain is the complex supply chain for each garment. Even when brands have strict guidelines in place for suppliers, work often gets sub-contracted to other factories that the buyer may not even know about. Sofie Ovaa, global campaign coordinator of Stop Child Labour, told Moulds that companies that sell their products in Europe and the US have no clue where the textiles are sourced.

In 2019 the National reported on how the garment supply chain is infamous for its complexity. A Behind the Barcodes report in 2015 documenting that 75% of 219 brands surveyed did not know the source of all their fabrics and inputs, and only half could trace where their products were cut and sewed, explained reporter Sass Brown.

Tackling child labour is further complicated by the fact it is just a symptom of larger problems. Where there is extreme poverty, there will be children willing to work cheaply and susceptible to being tricked into dangerous or badly paid work.

Fundamentally, our rampant consumerism continues to drive slavery. Servitude happens as a result of brands seeking to lower their production costs. Until there is a concerted attempt by governments and brands to tighten up regulations in the suppy chains, modern day slavery and the exploitation of millions of cheap labourers will continue.

This article was amended on 15/02/2020 to properly attribute a Unicef sponsored piece by Josephine Moulds in the Guardian and an article by Sass Brown in the National

Here is the original post:

Modern Slavery is Never Out of Fashion: Child Labour in the Clothing Industry - Byline Times

Modern slavery laws could be updated to tackle ‘sweatshops’ amid Boohoo allegations – iNews

Priti Patel is believed to be considering new laws on modern slavery in light of new revelations about illegal working conditions at fast fashion suppliers, citing concerns that existing legislation is not fit for purpose.

According to The Sunday Times, the Home Secretary reportedly believes that cultural sensitivities are preventing police and councils from confronting illegal sweatshops for fears of being labelled racist.

Fashion company Boohoo has appointed Alison Levitt QC to lead an independent review into allegations that their factories were paying staff below minimum wage and not complying with safety rules.

Its board was said to be shocked and appalled by the allegations.

The move follows an undercover investigation by The Times last week that revealed workers in a Leicester factory were being paid as little as 3.50 per hour.

Shares in Boohoo, which also owns fast-fashion brands Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing, plummeted nearly 40 per cent following the report, while Asos, Next and Zalando all dropped the fast-fashion brand from sale.

Poor working conditions are reported to be widespread for textile industry employees, who are largely of Asian descent.

Raj Mann, the police contact for Leicesters Sikhs, said some factory owners were cliquish and shared information about cheap workers and approaching raids and inspections.

The local authorities have known these sweatshops exist for decades but theyve been loath to do anything about it for fear of being accused of picking on immigrant or refugee communities, as a lot of the exploited workers are of Indian background, he said.

Within the Asian community people generally turn a blind eye to workers in the community who are on less than the minimum wage. They see it as being better than earning nothing at all.

Sara Thornton, the independent anti-slavery commissioner, said financial challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic make workers more susceptible to exploitation.

As people have lost their jobs, they are increasingly desperate and will take exploitative work because at that point its the most rational option for them.

On the other side is that if employers are feeling desperate about getting their businesses back on track, they might also feel that they want to cut corners, she said.

At the moment the home secretary can injunct a company and require them to make a modern slavery statement. Thats never happened in five years but thats as powerful as it ever gets at the moment and I think it should be more.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Continued here:

Modern slavery laws could be updated to tackle 'sweatshops' amid Boohoo allegations - iNews

Challenging American Apartheid, Championing American DecolonizationWith Love, and More – Idaho Press-Tribune

Part I

My first name is Ris, given by my mother in honor of her favorite opera singer, Ris Stevens. At age three, an older male relative nicknamed me Sapphire. I thought it was for my September birthstone. No. It was after a negatively stereotypical battle axe character the wife of Kingfish, a scheming man whod do anything for a buck on the Amos n Andy television show. Originally, Amos n Andy was a radio program created and acted by two white men who were familiar with minstrel traditions. Later, it was one of the first black sitcoms on white-run television. My mother disallowed the nickname. Several years thereafter, I began a 40-year boycott of television due to its denigration of black people.

White supremacy is the belief in the superiority of the white race, and that it should therefore dominate other racesespecially the black race. It is the ideology of supremacy and the practices resulting therefrom. White people were and are the colonial power of America. American Apartheiddiscrimination by white people against others allegedly due to racewas and is born of white supremacy. It said that such discrimination is about race. But it is really about dominanceparticularly economic dominanceheartless power, soulless greed. It is time to decolonize America.

At four years old, I preened in the mirror as I recited my first poem:

"Ohhh, looka there

Isnt that little colored girl pretty and fair"

The darker the skin tone, the more nefarious the racism, internalized racism, and colorism. Given this, it was a feat of my brilliant mother that I considered my young dark and incandescent self fairas in beautiful. White beauty was the societal beauty standard. Already, I was setting my own.

Repeatedly, white people say to me, You and I have different perspectives. I havent had your experience. Right. In an Apartheid system, different groups of people do have a different experience and a different perspective. This is because of racismthe structural discrimination, institutional discrimination, systemic discrimination that has been built in, driven in, and that is held in place by power, policy, and practice. That is the issue. And, due to American white supremacy and the resulting Apartheid, discrimination has, so far, bled into and through my black American life. Racism is so normalized in American culture that it is seemingly unnoticeable to many white people. Now is the time for systemic American Apartheid to be brought to light of day, flushed out, cleared out, rooted out. It will take work.

As a 5-year-old in Texas, I was fascinated by the countertop of the tall meat case in the neighborhood black-owned grocery store. Upon it stood several clear three-gallon glass jars. One was stuffed with fat-filled pink pickled pig feet; in the second, pink pickled pig ears fanned wide; in the third twirled clustered pink pickled pig tailsall for sale to eat.

The razor tang of salt, brine, and grease remains in my memory.

In the refrigerated lower section of the meat case lay thick rolls of bologna, summer sausage, blocks of electric-orange American cheese, piles of ox tails, cow tongues, and folds of bloody liver. More intriguing were the large, quivering squares of gelatin and fat-filled hog head cheese, pork neck bones, hog maws, and odiferous grey chitlins. Slave food, Mama said.

Historically, the person who owned the slaves owned the pigs. The owner ate the pork chops, pork roast, and the ham; the enslaved ate the appendageshead, ears, neck, stomach, intestines, tails, and feet. When black folks got a pork butt, we were said to be eatin high off the hog. I shimmied my jejune hips and sang along with Bessie Smith, Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer.

How might 250 years of a slave diet rendered traditionwe were enslaved for a century longer than weve been freecontribute to underlying health concerns that cause black people to be more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19? And, what part might 150 years of Apartheid-induced poverty post enslavement play?

In the 1950s, I lived in Houstons Fifth Ward, a segregated black community. Next door to my house was the abiding neighborhood black-owned Deans Grocery Store. Across the street was the Kelly Courts housing projecta city block of bright orange unrelieved brick cubes of prison cell-like apartments, with tiny square windows built by the white-run government for Negroes after the war. Years later, a new Asian store opened kitty-corner to Mr. Deans store and competed for the business of the black people in the projects. At that time, to my knowledge, Asians didnt live in our neighborhood and, wherever they did live, it was doubtful that blacks owned businesses there. They were rude to us. They didnt hire us or socialize with us, except to undersell low quality food to poor black people. Their store threatened to put Mr. Deans store out of business. However, after a time, they mustve become friendlier because there were a few dark-skinned Amerasian children playing in the projects, apparently being parented by single mothers. It is particularly painful when one oppressed group colludes in the further oppression of another oppressed group. Predatory capitalism is economic Apartheid. Stop.

Just beyond our front yard fence, in the wide muddy ditch that ran the length of our house, red-whiskered crawfish swam. There were no sidewalks. Under an unforgiving sun on those mean Fifth Ward streets, tar boiled up and stuck to my shoe bottoms in long black strands like hot bubblegum.

Last week I read that racist government policies have contributed to the Fifth Ward neighborhood now being one of Houstons cancer clusters. It has a 48% cancer rate. White politicians relegated segregated black neighborhoods to areas where incinerators, landfills, waste sites, and industry were placed. How might longstanding housing injustice and environmental Apartheid contribute to African Americans having underlying health conditions that leave us more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19?

To date, my life has been lived within a system built on white supremacy and bolstered by American Apartheid. If you are an American, so has yours. How palatable your experience has or hasnt been is dependent, in large measure, upon whether or not you were born with white or near-white skin. White supremacy and Apartheid are foundational to our nation. It looks like an issue of race when, in fact, it is an issue of hegemony. It is time for this to be faced and acknowledged. It is time for it to end.

Because weve had 401 years of unequal relationships, weve also had 401 years of unequal experiences though weve lived in the same land. There were 250 years of slavery; the post-Civil War promise of 40 acres and a mule that were to be given to former slaves that was revoked; Jim Crow laws and then Black Codesendless white supremacist practices regulating the places where blacks could and could not gather or be seen at night, which jobs we were and were not allowed to do, how much or little we were paid, our economic advancement and security or lack thereof, where we could and could not live, the air we breathed, the food we ate, the water we drank. Today, in Flint, Michigan, a predominately black area, even after several years, clean water is barely a human right. I doubt it would have taken three years or more to remove lead from the drinking water in Santa Barbara, Aspen, or Sun Valley. Moreover, there have been decades of mass incarceration and no-wage to low-wage prison labor. Time up. No more prisons. Create jobs. Build homes.

If one is white, whether or not ones family owned slaves, one benefits from white privilege resulting from historic and enduring racism. Though I am not enslaved, historic and enduring racism have been and continue to be to my detriment. Today, after 401 years of economic injustice, the wealth of black families is one tenth of the wealth of white families, though blacks did two and a half centuries of the countrys heavy lifting. Reparationsa means to balance income inequality and wealth inequityare a national debt, a governmental duty. To be just, we must militate for reparations, to include providing no-cost to low-cost education, and unbiased healthcare to African Americans.

Please read: Beloved, by Toni Morrison, and The Book of Negroes, by Canadas Lawrence Hill. This same book was published in the U.S. as Someone Knows My Name.

Please read: The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic.

See Ris Kevalshar Collins' conversation with Marcia Franklin, host of Idaho Public Television'sThe 180.

***

In the last week of June 2020, I hope for a time without further murder of black people by white people, and without further murder of black people by the police. I long for time to sit in sunshine in my patio garden overstuffed with potted plants, tree roses, raised vegetable beds, and lilies. I am holding space to decompress, time to watch red gladiolus bloom in memory of my mother; time to see hummingbirds drink deeply from hanging fuchsia baskets; time with the dogs, cat, birds, squirrels, deer. Time to just be, and to remember.

I recall my mother, an innately elegant woman, saying, I may have been penniless, but I have never been poor. I remember it being said of a woman who was much like my mother: Shes got silk tastes and a sows purse. Neither of them had, but deserved to have had, opportunity equal to thatnot only of white womenbut of white men.

Before I started school, my mother made a request of me. She said, Ris, promise Mommy you will never be a maid. She was planting seeds of aspiration higher than those preordained for me by an Apartheid society.

Growing up, some may not have questioned, but I did question why black people often had so little, why white people often had so much, how they got it, and why they didnt share. Later, I began connecting the intergenerational dots. Those who owned the people and the pigs ate the pork chops and the ham. Those who owned the people and the pigs also owned the houses and the land. Those who owned the people, the pigs, the houses, and the land ran the institutions and made the laws. Those who owned the people, the pigs, the houses, the land, who also ran the institutions and made the laws, then passed their people, their pigs, and their profits down to their heirs; and they promoted policies, practices and laws that they created in their own favor, and in favor of those who looked like them so that they could forever secure what they had gained.

Those who were owned, owned nothing; they ate what their owners threw away; they passed down their love, their pain, and their purpose.

Whether or not all white Americans recognize it, or want it to be so, systemic structures of supremacy and Apartheid, implicit and explicit, remain in place. First we become aware. Then we divest.

Read this: Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Prof. Ibram X. Kendi.

***

White people in Bonners Ferry, in Boise, and elsewhere say to me, Its so sad, but it happened in the past, how long should we feel bad?

The White Lion, the first slave ship, landed in America in 1619. In the 1700s, armed whites organized themselves as slave patrols to monitor and discipline black slaves, and to capture enslaved runaways. These slave patrols were forebears of the modern police force. In 2020, police brutality toward black people remains a source of social terror.

Too often, in interacting with blacks, police officers still operate as slave catchers for a justice system that sends "just us" into a prison system that still operates as a plantation system where black men still provide no-wage to low-wage labor.

In St. Maries and in Boise I hear white riffs on this white refrain: I dont feel any shame, carry any guilt, bear any blame for what my forefathers did.

Per the NAACP, between 1882 and 1968, nearly 4,743 people were lynched in the U.S. Of those, 3,446 were black, and most lynchings took place in the south. Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas, respectively, had the highest numbers of lynchings. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced lynching in the mid-1930s, he did not sign an anti-lynching bill. In 1939, Billie Holiday sang Strange Fruit. In 1964, Nina Simone sang Mississippi Goddam. In 2018, the U.S. Senate passed the first anti-lynching act. In 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act. Still, to my knowledge, no anti-lynching legislation has yet been signed into law. In 2020 a Washington, D.C., football team, under corporate pressure, is at long last poised to change its culturally offensive name. In 2020, Mississippi is after so long a time set to remove the Confederate emblem from its flag. Traditions die hard. But, unlike in 2019in 2020, NFL players will take a knee on the field before the flag during the national anthem in protest of injustice.

Concerning police brutality in America, a Boise neighbor asks, Do things like that still happen?

In the first six months of 2020, modern-day lynchings of American black people remain commonplace. An unarmed black man was shot-gunned down by a white father and son as he jogged and as another white man filmed the act; an unarmed black man was twice shot in his back by a white policeman as the black man, fearful of being arrested for drinking and then falling asleep in his car, ran; an unarmed black woman was shot dead in her bed by white no-knock police as she slept; a black man died, unarmed and bound, lying face down in the street with his neck under the weight of a white mans knee.

In Boise white people repeatedly say: Your viewpoint and experience are different from mine.

In an Apartheid system whites and blacks do have a different experience. Our viewpoint and experience differ depending on which side of colonialism and racial discrimination we land. Those who look like the colonizer have a softer landing. Whites were not enslaved for 250 years. No. Whites reserved that special suite in hell for blacks. White men are not incarcerated at five times the rate of black men who, after being disproportionately imprisoned, and after being given greater time for lesser crimes, are not, without compromise, restored to their right to vote. Blacks dont seek to gain or to maintain political power over whites by suppressing the white right to vote. Whites havent had to fight for all of their civil rights. Per the Economic Policy Institute, in 2019, black unemployment was at least twice as high as white unemployment in 14 states. Black unemployment is roughly 50% higher than that of whites. White men earn more money than white women, and white women earn more money than black women. Whites are safe to sleep in their beds, to leave the doors to their homes unlocked and open, to walk on their streets, to jog around their neighborhoods, to drive in their cars, to park at public rest stops, to camp alone in the woods, to pray in their churches, to have an encounter with a police officer and live to see another day. Blacksnot so much.

***

When conversing with a Dutch friend with whom I share mutual affectionpossibly about Dutch descended Afrikaners long rape and rule of the black South African people, their resources, and their land with impunity, and likely about pervasive American racism which European immigrants absorb, and from which they benefitshe said, You hate me because Im white!

No, I said, I hate you because youre stupid.

Often, when addressing white racism, white people forfeit common sense. Like my friend, many otherwise intelligent white people suddenly go dense, deaf, dumb, blind, amnesiac, and numb when it comes to acknowledging and dismantling ongoing white supremacy and Apartheid.

Theres work to do. Part of the work is being willing to look for our blind spots with humility and with integrity. It starts with looking at the self where supremacist ideology is internalized, where racism has been socialized. Part of the work is to educate oneself and to inform others. Part of the work is to hold ones own feet to fire.

Please watch: Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay.

Please read: Nelson Mandelas autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander; and Are Prisons Obsolete? by Prof. Angela Davis, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

***

Like my maternal great grandmother, maternal grandmother, mother, and sister, I too have lived under the duress of navigating multiple layers of bedrock racism. Living life within a system of white control, systemic injustice, and social terror targeted at African Americans takes a toll. The enduring stress of job, food, housing, and healthcare insecurity that are driven by racism, as well as ongoing social terror, can affect a persons health. They have affected mine.

I am near the age my mother was when, in 1998her illness exacerbated by a lifetime lived in the bit and under the bridle of political, economic, and social bias and constraintshe died after refusing an operation that might have saved her life. Due to Americas palpable history of medical Apartheid, our family code was and is: Barring a life-threatening illness, we dont have surgery.

In America, in the mid-1800s, Alabama surgeon Dr. James Marian Sims, known as the Father of Modern Gynecology, developed his trailblazing surgical techniques and his pioneering tools by research experiments conducted on enslaved black women without anesthesia. It was believed that black people did not feel as much pain as white people. This was white supremacy and medical Apartheid. Lionizing James Marian Sims condones medical Apartheid.

The Public Health services, now associated with the Center for Disease Control, conducted The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from1932 until 1972a 40-year Study of Untreated Syphilis in African American Men. For 40 years many people colluded with and contributed to this study of untreated syphilis in impoverished black men, notwithstanding its effect on the black mens black wives, and on their black children. This was white supremacy and medical Apartheid. Participating in white supremacy and medical Apartheid is white supremacy and medical Apartheid.

In 1951, while Henrietta Lacks, a black woman, was being treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins, doctors took extra cervical samples from her without her knowledge and without her consent. She died at Johns Hopkins at the age of 31. Her cells, named HeLa cells, revolutionized the medical field. Billions of dollars in profit have been made from the research of the cells, and none of it has been shared with her family. Collusion with white supremacy and medical Apartheid is white supremacy and medical Apartheid.

Proponents of Eugenicsthe application of principles of genetics and heredity to improve the human racepushed for and won legislative policy in its support. The Eugenics Movementbased, in part, on a belief in white racial superioritywas funded by corporate foundations and underwritten by federal programs. For several decades, ending in about 1973, the Eugenics Movement targeted African American women on which to perform coerced and forced sterilizations and hysterectomies. This was also done on Hispanic and Native American women. It was used as a means of controlling undesirable populations that not only included people of color, it further included people with mental illness, people with disabilities, uneducated people, and poor people. (Conversely, in the 1950s in Idaho, some white women needed the consent of their husbands in order to have their tubes tied.) This was white supremacy and medical Apartheid.

Historical trauma caused by slavery, passed down through generations, and triggered by ongoing injustice is distressing. Because of medical distrust, I have postponed and/or avoided certain medical treatments for many years. Recently, I changed my Primary Care Physician in part because, though Im old enough to have been her mother; though I asked her multiple times not to do so, though I explained to her the negative cultural implicationsmy young white female physician couldnt managein a professional settingto stop calling me girl. Bias at worst, stupiditya lack of common senseand insensitivity at best. Theres work to do. Part of dismantling white supremacy: Safe, quality, unbiased healthcare for African Americans.

Please read this: Just Medicinea Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care by Dayna Bowen Matthew, and Black and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by Prof. John Hoberman.

***

Historically, blacks were not allowed to learn to read or write. Education threatened the institution of slavery; education challenges white supremacy; education helps to dismantle Apartheid. My mother began teaching me to read and write early. My commitment to education is lifelong. Virginia Woolf said, A woman must have money and a room of her own... I say: A modern woman needs a degree; most women of color need two; a black woman needs three.

I was alive during Brown vs. the Board of Education, when the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. I bussed across Houston and was one of a few who integrated a wealthy white high school. We learned almost nothing about the contributions of people of color in my history class. Many Americans dont know our American history because American white people wrote, whitewashed, and published our textbooks. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has produced a documentary, Black Patriots: Heroes of the Revolution, which highlights some of the black patriots who helped to establish America, yet who were minimized, marginalized, written out of our history. We must seek to learn our true American history, so that we can reckon with it, and correct for our future.

For the past two years at Boise State University, where I am a student in the Creative Writing Program, Ive taken one class, during one semester, with one other black person. In two years I know of no black or indigenous adjunct, lecturer, professor, or administrator in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing. I am aware that the extraordinary Dr. Mamie Oliver was a professor in the Department of Social Work at Boise State, that she was the first African American professor at Boise State, and that she taught there from 1972 to 1988. But, during the past two years, Ive briefly met only one black instructor on the university campushe was in the music department. In two years' time, Ive met only one black administrator at Boise State. She, a veteran, was the Director of Equity and Inclusion. A month later, she was gone.

American structural oppression is standard; its mainstream. Last year, in one of my classes, I was introduced to a film that is foundational to the American film industryTheBirth of a Nationoriginally titled, The Clansman. It was the first movie screened in the White House. Seen there by Woodrow Wilson in 1915, he declared, Its like writing history with lightning. This film is taught in American cinema courses, influenced American society, inspired the revival of the KKK, is rabid with racism, debases black people, and glorifies white supremacy. I, the only black person in the class, chose to watch the film in its entirety. Afterwards, I was ill for two days. Although technically significant, and chosen by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry, the film is damaging. Gone with the Wind, another American film classic, is rife with classic white supremacy and classic American racism.

Im not sure that I want to read arguable racism in the works of novelists such as Mississippian William Faulkner, or that I need to read anti-Semitism in the works of poets such as Idahoan Ezra Pound. But if such work must be taught, the benefit should far outweigh the offense, and it would be wise to consider who makes that determination, and how such works are taught. The Pieces I Am, a 2019 documentary on the life and work of black American Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison, offers a view into American literary Apartheid, as well as a view into Morrisons workaround.

White supremacy and Apartheid have been the American standard. Broadway theatre started in 1750. The first play written by an American black woman that debuted on Broadway in its over 200-year history was A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry in 1959. Nearly 20 years thereafter, from 1976 until 1978, I acted in the second play written by a black American woman to be performed on Broadwaythe original Broadway production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange.

For educators and administrators there is much work to do to decolonize our educational system. I place faith in my Millennial and Generation Z adjunct instructors, and graduate student teaching assistants. I am particularly inspired by peersthe astute and generous Caitlin McGowan and Jacob Robartsboth of whom write, and both of whom will teach. I believe that they will continue to educate themselves on white supremacy and on racism, and that they will do their part, in their spheres of influence, to decolonize the classroom. After we verbalize anti-racism sentiment, and write anti-racism statements, we must take anti-racism action, and maintain it in existence over time. Because of Caitlin and Jacob, and others like them, I take heart.

Please read this: Racism and EducationCoincidence or Conspiracy? by Professor David Gillborn.

I, Ris Kevalshar Collins, am committed to love, to equity, and to justice. For those who stand for equal justice, there is work to do.

Here is the original post:

Challenging American Apartheid, Championing American DecolonizationWith Love, and More - Idaho Press-Tribune

Leicester lockdown unveils the truth about its fast fashion industry – Euronews

Fast fashion and a lockdown boom in online ordering has exacerbated poor working conditions at a UK factory and could have helped fuel a local spike in COVID-19 cases, it has been claimed.

The organisation Labour Behind The Label (LBTL) says a company which supplies online retail giant Boohoo has been found to be exploiting workers, paying illegal wages and failing to safeguard its employees against COVID-19.

Workers told Euronews that the factories have not been made COVID safe: "it was as normal as before [coronavirus]. No gloves, no masks, no social distance, nothing at all," says Nick Sakhizadah, a textile factory worker.

During an interview with our correspondent, some of the factory owners attempted to intimidate Sakhizadah and the other workers for "telling the truth", which he says is part of the problem.

Colin Whyatt, regional organiser for trade union GMB in Leicester, believes around two thousand factories employ illegal workers which he says could mean tens of thousands of illegal employees who are vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery.

Whyatt added that at an ethical trade conference he attended four years ago, auditors admitted to turning a blind eye to these poor conditions because of a loss in revenue if the factory was forced to close.

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe told Euronews that the government could have stepped in earlier. She says: "I just wonder, if this was a different community whether help would have been provided much sooner so that workers weren't exploited in this way".

The campaign group say Boohoo accounts for 80 per cent of Leicester's capacity and they have for years set garment producers in competition against each other to drive prices down.

LBTL found a very recent order from Boohoo for 1 million pairs of cycling shorts to be produced in Leicester for 1.80 per pair (unit) including packaging, labelling, factory overheads, labour costs and delivery. These shorts have been reportedly sold on Boohoo and its sister site Pretty Little thing for between 3-10.

At the same time, Sakhizadah says he has been paid considerably less than minimum wage during lockdown. He says: "I'm working for free and taking this big risk".

Megan Lewis from LBTL says: "Brands like Boohoo make a huge profit by pushing prices as low as they can, and this is why they have allowed the situation to go on like this.

She adds: "For too long, brands have distanced themselves from their suppliers, when they know that exploitation is an inevitable outcome from their poor purchasing practices demanding low prices and fast production times.

Susan Harris, Director of Legal Services at GMB, says it is not compulsory for an employer to admit a trade union into the premises. In addition, Harris says there is often mistrust and a reluctance from workers in this industry to join a trade union:

If people were encouraged to join unions, if we had the right to visit workplaces and have access to workers to question if there was any failure by the employer to comply with legislation - whether that relates to Health and Safety, wages etc - then this type of exploitation would be reduced or eliminated.

Data from the campaign group details that around a third (33.6%) of workers in Leicester's garment industry are born outside of the UK and most of the workers come from minority backgrounds.

Workers who are not born in the UK are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to their immigration status or language skills.

"If people don't know their rights, they don't know that they can complain or know how to complain. And if you then factor into that lack of knowledge with the fact that many of these workers will not have English as their mother tongue then the conditions exist for unscrupulous people to exploit workers," outlines Harris.

We need better legislation and regulation within the industry and the government must step up to make these changes," says Lewis from LBTL. "The government must also take responsibility for the wider economic and racial inequalities that leave workers vulnerable to such exploitative labour."

LBTL are now calling on Boohoo to commit to transparency and to take more responsibility of their supply chain.

"Boohoo must commit to paying living wages for all workers in their supply chain and crucially, they should commit to supply chain transparency. Other brands have published lists of factories and workshops where their clothes are made, and Boohoo must do this too.

Excerpt from:

Leicester lockdown unveils the truth about its fast fashion industry - Euronews

The Pandemic of Racism in America – IDN InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Viewpoint by Dr Alon Ben-Meir

The writer is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University (NYU). He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

NEW YORK (IDN) The rage, desperation, and determination which continue to bring tens of thousands of Americans to the streets in protest against racism and injustice hopefully will be just the beginning.

They are sick and tired of systemic racism against Black people, of bigotry at the top, crude discrimination, police brutality, a prejudiced criminal justice system, economic disparity, and societys robbing black people of experiencing real freedom and equality. Hypocritically, white people blame the victims of racism for their own plight, claiming that Black people would do better in life if they were only willing to work harder.

We are now reaping the harvest of the seeds of racism and discriminationthe devaluation of black life. The whole socio-economic and cultural system is lopsided, as it lacks the fundamentals of justice and equality. The pandemic provided the wakeup call that pointed out the ugly tradition of subjugation of the Black community, which sadly did not stop with the end of slavery, but continued in the wanton indifference to their pain and agony, our uncanny negligence, and our failure to understand what they are really experiencing.

Ingrained Racism

The fact that Black people were slaves, and the carefully cultivated myth that slaves were always obedient and happily served their white masters, left an indelible imprint on white people that has lasted generations. They maintain that African Americans were born to servitude and hence they do not qualify for equal treatment, equal opportunity, and equal status.

Films such as D.W. Griffiths immensely influential Birth of a Nation (1915), which helped to reestablish the Ku Klux Klan, also reinforced the racist stereotype that Black men are unintelligent and an inherent danger to the white communityspecifically white women. When on May 25 (the same day George Floyd was killed) a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the cops on a Black man, Christian Cooper, who was birdwatching in Central Park, she was tapping into the long history of that racist trope. To put it plainly, Black lives are simply not valued the way white lives are, as white people consciously or subconsciously view Black man as both sub- and supra-human, threatening, and expendable.

Thus, due to this entrenched prejudice, any activity, however innocent, in which a Black man is engaged in invites suspicion, alarm, and often puts the life of Black men in danger such as 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by white residents of the suburban Georgia neighborhood he was jogging in. The mayor of Minneapolis bluntly said Being black in America should not be a death sentence. Racism, to be sure, is so ingrained it flows in the veins of many Americans without notice.

The insidious, learned biases pitting white against Black Americans directly leads to the treating of Black Americans as second-class citizens and suppression by white Americansa necessary ingredient that satisfies their ego and elevates their self-worth. Although the majority of white Americans may not be white supremacists, they certainly hold onto their privileges in all walks of life as they view their relation with Black people (and other people of color) as a zero-sum game, as if a Black mans gain invariably chips away at a white mans privileges.

Wanton discrimination

Racial prejudice in America takes a heavy toll on African Americans, which translates to discrimination in all walks of life, including education, job opportunities, professional advancements, and medical treatment, especially maternal health. Black workers receive 22 percent less in salary than whites with the same education and experience; Black women receive even less34.2 percent.

According to a University of Chicago/Duke 2016 study, when factoring in all African American and white men (inclusive of those incarcerated or otherwise out of the workforce), the racial wage gap is the same as it was in the 1950s. Even where racial discrimination should not occur, in medical treatment, when Black patients access medical care, doctors regularly prescribe fewer pain medications and believe Black patients feel less pain than white patients, even among veterans seeking care.

Whereas Black men have served in the military and fought and died alongside white soldiers in every war since the Revolutionary War (when 5,000-8,000 Black soldiers fought against the British), they had to face the revulsion of discrimination and segregation while still serving in the military, hardly recognized for acts of bravery. Indeed, until 1948after the end of WWIIthe US military was entirely segregated. While the top brass of the military, who are mostly white, like to claim that military institutions are colorblind, the reality is that racism and discrimination remain extensive problems even in the U.S. military.

Police brutality

Although police brutality against Black men in particular, which instigated the current protests, is a known phenomenon, police killings of Black men continue unabated. It can and has taken different forms historically including harassment and intimidation, assault and battery, torture and murder, and even complicity with the KKK. Often, police officers approach any situation connected to a Black man with apprehension and fear. White police officers see threats where they do not exist; they are too quick to draw and as quick to fire to kill.

Here are just a few glaring examples: a Black man taking a nap in a car in a parking lot was shot dead. Another pulled over in a traffic stop was shot and killed in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. A Black man sitting in his home eating ice cream was shot dead by his neighbor, an off-duty white police officer. A Black woman playing video games with her nephew was shot and killed through her window. A Black woman (and EMT) sleeping in her home was shot eight times when officers entered her apartment executing a no-knock warrant.

It is rare for a prosecutor to decide to charge a police officer, especially because they often know each other and have developed close working relationships. Even Internal Affairs divisions of police departments, which ostensibly exist to investigate and report misconduct among officers, have widely conducted sub-standard investigations and failed to identify problem officers who commit wanton abuse.

This cultural pattern enables police officers like Derek Chauvin, Daniel Pantaleo, and Nathan Woodyard to commit the heinous crime of slowly squeezing the life out of George Floyd (MN), Eric Garner (NY), and Elijah McClain (CO). As troubling is the fact that police officers have been known to give false testimony in court, whether to avoid punishment for their own criminal and/or unconstitutional actions, to ensure a conviction, or for other reasons.

Disproportionate incarceration

Although the US judiciary is considered to be just and impartial, in most court hearings race is present albeit it is not spelled out. It is as though Black men inherently have no equal rights and to this day, 230 years since the constitution was written, injustices still exist in both federal and state courts.

Blacks are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whiteswhile they are 13 percent of the total US population, they constitute 40 percent of the total male prison population. The mass incarceration of African Americans in this country has created what sociologist Becky Pettit, citing the novelist Ralph Ellison, calls invisible menthe millions of black men in the American penal system. Prison inmates are not included in most data-collecting national surveys, so these men are effectively invisible to social institutions, lawmakers, and most social science research. It is almost as if they do not exist, they do not count; their reality is ignored, neglected, and brushed aside.

A staggering 75 percent of young Black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lives. These statistics can only begin to convey the enormity of the injustice that is being compounded day after day. Pettits book reveals that penal expansion has generated a class of citizens systematically excluded from accounts of the American populace. This exclusion raises doubt about the validity of even the most basic social facts and questions the utility of the data gathered for the design and evaluation of public policy and the data commonly used in social science research. As a consequence, we have lost sight of the full range of the American experience.

Economic disparity

Economic disparity between white and Black Americans is glaring, and reverberates through generations of Black families. Economic exclusion is the source of inequality. It is caused by a confluence of factors, beginning with nearly 250 years of chattel slavery (during which Black families were torn apart, let alone able to accumulate wealth), to sharecropping and unrestrained lynchings, to 90 years of Jim Crow laws, to redlining neighborhoods on demographic lines.

All of these factors are manifested today in hiring decisions, property valuation, mortgage applications, interest charges, and even how credit scores are tabulated. The average white familys net worth is more than ten times greater than a Black family. Economic disparity, to be sure, is the mother of all evil in the lives of Black people.

A poor Black man cannot pay for decent housing, cannot pay for health care, and cannot afford to send his kids to higher education, which directly impacts his social standing and professional competency. Thus, he has to settle for menial jobs, low wages, and little or no prospect of ever climbing out of the vicious cycle. The saddest thing of all is that he is blamed for his own dilemma, as if the conditions and lack of opportunities in which he lives has nothing to do with his sorry state of affairs.

The bigotry of the leadership

During the past four years, racism in America has been on the rise and in no small measure Trump, the Racist-in-Chief, has made race a campaign issue from the very start. He began his political campaign by branding Hispanics as rapists; in his presidency he banned Muslims from entering the US, cruelly separated children from their parents at the borders, described white supremacists in Charlottesville as very fine people, and celebrated this 4th of July by defending Confederate statues.

Trumps racism against Blacks in particular is nothing new. It was there in 1973 when Trump Management Inc. was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination against African-American renters. We could see it in 1989, when he took out a full-page advertisement in four New York City newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty over the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison.

Trump refuses to apologize for that, even though, as Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck said, by calling for the reinstitution of the death penalty, it contributed to an atmosphere that deprived these men of a fair trial. He also refused to apologize for his persistent perpetuation of the birther lie that Obama was not born in the US.

Trumps Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore was laden with racially divisive and partisan rhetoric, but that makes no difference to many conservative Republican leaders and his misguided supporters who follow him blindly. They wrap themselves with the flag as a sign of American patriotism, when in fact their patriotism is defined by their racism and intolerance of people of color.

Although some Republican leaders disagree with him on race, they are fearful of his anger to say anything publicly, lest they risk losing their power or position. Sadly, their silence suggests consent, which only reinforces Trumps racism. With Trump, as with much of the country, racism is deeply ingrained, something he refuses to admit.

Although racism did not start when Trump came to power as it is imbued into Americas history and culture and it will not end with his departure from office, his overt racism brought to focus racism in America. The persistent protests reveal the deep sense of frustration with a president who fans the flame of racism, who sees the country as his own enterprise, who does whatever he wants to serve his own interests. He is cruel, cunning, and careless about the pain and suffering of Black America; he cannot count on their political support and hence completely rejects their outcry.

Unlike any other protests in the past against racism, this years protests have had a greater impact in part due to the spread of the coronavirus and its disproportionate impact on Black people, who are being infected and dying at higher rates than whites. That, and in conjunction with a presidential election, provides a rare opportunity to start a process of mitigating racism in earnest.

What will be necessary, however, is for the protests to persist through Election Day in the hopes that the Racist-in-Chief will be ousted. Only then we stand a better chance that a new day will dawn and a new administration will commit to relentlessly addressing the plight of Black people for the sake of all Americans, especially because the day when America will have a majority of people of color is fast approaching.

Although there are scores of measures that must be taken and many years and huge financial resources to make a discernible change for the better in the life of Black Americans, we have no choice but to start, regardless of how insurmountable the obstacles and the culture of resistance to change. It will take the collective efforts, determination, and consistency of local, state, and federal authorities to begin this process if we ever want to reach a modicum of equality.

The work to change the culture of innate racism in America will be long and hard, but we must not shy away from it. As a small start, the immediate focus should be on educating students about Black history, changing the police culture and training, investing in housing in black neighborhoods, offering educational support for young Black boys and girls starting at elementary age, up to providing free education for them to attend college or professional schools, and providing job opportunities and equal pay to give them the chance to climb up over time the social ladder.

The continuing demonstrations throughout the country suggest not only the obviousthat Black lives matterbut that racism is consuming America from within, that injustice affects the perpetrators just as much as the victims, that enough is enough. [IDN-InDepthNews 16 July 2020]

Photo credit: Black Lives Matter

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

View post:

The Pandemic of Racism in America - IDN InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Black Country Festival founder on the meaning of the Black Country flag – expressandstar.com

First of all, let me say that the Black Country name is nothing to do with race or ethnicity. And the imagery or colours of the Black Country flag are not intended to be linked to slavery.

But that doesnt mean questions can not be asked of the Black Country region or the symbolism behind the Black Country flag. We shouldnt blindly beat our chest in defence of both the flag or the region without knowing its history.

The Black Country is a region of England which today covers the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

The region was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and its landscape was dominated with coal mines, iron foundries, glass factories, brick works and many small industries for as far as the eye could see.

Chimneys of factories, furnaces and small home forges bellowed out smoke and soot to heavily pollute the air.

The pollution filled the sky and the region which was described as 'Black by Day' and 'Red by Night' by Elihu Burritt became known as the Black Country.

In 1712 the Black Country changed the world when it became the first place to harness the power of steam with the Newcomen Engine.

In 1828 the working class people of the region built the Stourbridge Lion which was the first steam locomotive to run in the USA, they made the glass and iron for the Crystal Palace and its great exhibition in 1851 and also forged the anchors and chains for great ships like the Titanic.

The hard work by Black Country people changed the world and shaped the modern world we see today but that is not to say that the region and its work force did not produce items for the slave trade, or that we should dismiss the regions links to the enslavement.

African men and women were undoubtedly shackled and chained on the Atlantic crossing with items that were produced in the Black Country. Once they reached their destination, they would be held captive with Black Country made products of various descriptions.

There is evidence of Black Country products marketed specifically for the slave market with items listed as Negro Collars and African Chains. Enslavement was big business and rich men capitalised on that industry to make as much money as possible.

The rich people who marketed these products did not care about the slaves that their products were used on and they did not care about the people who made the products either.

The working-class people of the Black Country were extremely poor. Life expectancy in the region in 1841 was 17 years old. People worked from the age they could walk, and some died before they became adults. There was no luxury for our ancestors and there was no profit. They worked hard in hope they would live a little longer than the people dying around them. If cholera didnt kill them then hard work would.

The working class people of the Black Country never profited from the slave trade, in fact there is little evidence to suggest that they even knew what their products were used for.

When modern Black Country folk show pride for the history of our region, it is the working-class people we are proud of. We dont take pride in the starvation wages that our ancestors were paid or the squalid conditions they were forced to work in or the rich who profited from the slave trade. We celebrate their hard work and the fight they put up to ensure the first ever minimum wage, we respect the courage shown by people uniting and laying down of their tools to ensure women were paid equally.

This is not a case of pitting the plight of our Black Country ancestors against the horrendous treatment of the people who were enslaved. It is saying that in many cases working class Black Country people and black slaves were victims of the very same people who profited from their labour.

To cause offence intention is important and there is no intention to offend anyone with the Black Country flag. If I am honest most people I speak to are not offended.

The Black Country flag was designed by 12-year-old Gracie Sheppard in 2012. It features a glass cone to represent the glass industry of the Black Country. The cone is flanked by black and red panels inspired by Elihu Burritts famous description of the area black by day and red by night, and the chain across the centre represents the chain industry in the region but is also to symbolise the linking up of the different communities.

I believe we should all take time learn about the remarkably interesting history of our region and it should be open for discussion.

Each year we celebrate Black Country Day on July 14th. We have a Black Country anthem and Black Country flag.

I am not an expert, just someone who loves the Black Country and exploring our history.

I am proud to fly the Black Country Flag.

Steve Edwards

Read more here:

Black Country Festival founder on the meaning of the Black Country flag - expressandstar.com

‘Haiti Betrayed’ Reveals Reality Behind Canada’s Reputation as Peacekeeper | Fringe Arts – The Link

Fringe Arts by Mzwandile Poncana Published July 17, 2020 |

In one of the opening scenes of Haiti Betrayed, a Haitian man stands alone outside of the Canadian embassy in the arid landscape of Port-au-Prince, yelling out in frustration.

His cries are clearly directed towards the Canadian government and its presence in Haiti.

With his back towards the camera, he screams: We dont have anything against Canada! Why are you against us? Why do you hate Haitians?

This is a pinnacle moment, as the film spends its entire length tackling these questions.

Cinema Politica is a non-profit media organization, founded in 2003, that regularly screens political, alternative and radical films at Concordia. At the screening for the film Haiti Betrayed, one of the researchers involved in the making of the film, Nik Barry-Shaw, mentioned it was created within an eight-year process.

That broad time-period is unsurprising, as the film effortlessly weaves together various moments in 21st century Haitian history.

The film is calmly narrated, yet abrasiveand centres Canadas responsibility over Haitis current political-state as something that has been historically ignored, but now cannot be turned away from.

Director Elaine Brire said the film began accidentally. Whilst on a photography project in Haiti in 2009, she had been taking photos in Cham Mas, a major square in Port-au-Prince, when a poor man approached her. The man mistook her for a journalist, and told her she didnt know what was really happening in Haiti. There had been UN soldiers patrolling the area, so she neared him so they could speak more discreetly.

They are killing us! he told her. We are poor people. Tell them to stop. And then he began to cry and walked away. Brire said this moment shook her to the core, and her film was consequently a response to this mans plea.

As the film recounts, Haiti began as a slave colony and became the worlds first Black republic after the Black Haitian slave armies defeated Napoleons French army in 1804. Encountering freedom in a world that was still riddled with slavery, Haiti was shut out of the worlds economy.

As Brian Concannon, the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, mentions in the film, if Haiti was allowed to succeed, it would have proven to the world that Black people were competent enough to run their own country.

Because the West feared slave revolts in their own nations, they attempted to discredit Haiti by either ignoring or exploiting itFrance demanded Haiti pay it 150 million francs in exchange for its freedom, and America only acknowledged Haiti as a state 58 years after its independence.

Then, on top of still dealing with the extreme debt Haiti was paying to the French government, Haiti was obliterated by discriminatory foreign practices in the early 21st century.

This included the U.S. invasion of the country from 1915-1920, where U.S. marines gained control over Haitis national bank and customs operations. This also included the Haitian Massacre by the Dominican Republic in 1937where the racist Dominican president, Rafael Trujillo, massacred up to 35,000 Haitian immigrants at the border because he saw them as racially and culturally inferior, and therefore an inhibitor to the growth of the Dominican economy.

After the massacre, Trujilio was ordered by the U.S. to pay Haiti reparationsbut not all of it was paid, and, due to corruption by the Haitian government, not all of the funds paid reached the families of victims.

Courtesy Elaine Brire

The documentary is conscious of this broader history of Haiti, whilst it specifically centres on Canadas involvement in Haitis political state. The film is particularly concerned about how Canada helped to topple Haitis first democratically elected government.

The elected administration was the political organization, Lavalas and it was headed by President Jean-Paul Aristide, who won the election in 1991. In the film, Patrick Elie, Haitian Secretary of State for Public Security from 1994 to 1995, with stars in his eyes, describes the Lavalas administration as one that wasnt pursuing greater political power for its own interests, but as one that consistently pushed forward what the people of Haiti truly wanted.

Haiti at this time had an impoverished majority, and Aristide was mostly popular because he spent his career advocating for this group.

One of his main priorities was to redistribute the nations wealth in a more equitable way.

The Lavalas administration had numerous successesHaitian literacy rate increased by 20 per cent, malnutrition dropped by 12 per cent and 138 new secondary schools were built in 14 years.

Its shameful that the treatment of Haiti is disguised as helping Haiti. Elaine Brire.

During this time, there was an extreme power imbalancethis inequality was due to the country being mostly controlled by a small group of wealthy families, according to the film.

These families, backed by multinational corporations, opposed the Lavalas government and its dedication to forcing tax collections from the rich.

The disapproval eventually led to the forced removal of the Lavalas administration from office, twicethe first time with the help of the Haitian army in 1991, and then, again, with the help of the U.S., France, and Canada in 2004.

As well as France and the U.S., Canada had pernicious reasons for supporting the 2004 coup that led to the ousting of the Lavalas government, according to the film. (France had felt threatened by Aristide in 2003after he gave a speech demanding that France pay Haiti reparations of 21 billion US dollarsthe modern day equivalent of the 150 million francs that Haiti was forced to pay France after the end of slavery.) Canada has since used the coup as a way to further exploit Haiti.

An example of this exploitation is the Canadian company Gildan, whose workers in Haiti made less than a dollar a day whilst the company gained millions. The Aristide government attempted to double the minimum wage but this was not seen as popular to some of the rich elites. The exploitation of Haitian workers by Canadian multinational corporations therefore continued.

In the film, the revelations of Canadian complicity hit viewers like a brick, and whenever its done, its accompanied with an ominous audio back-track that rouses feelings of suspiciousness and unease. Its similar to the music youd hear in true crime dramas; its as if the film is sonically replicating the clandestine, stealthy nature of Canadian foreign policy.

Another repeated feature that permeates the film is its fearless attitude towards the presentation of violence. Images of brutal attacks against Hatians, lifeless mutilated bodies lying in the streets, burning vehicles; these are all casually shown without warning, in a bland, understated and emotionless manner. This seems strategic, as it mirrors the indifference foreign nationals express towards the suffering of Haitihow ignorance has become more normalized than intervention.

Brire said she was selective about the violence she chose to include. It was imperative to include an accurate example of the brutality without being too gratuitous, she said.

Because the film focuses mainly on events around the Aristide administration, it doesnt completely extend to Canadas current complicity in Haitis political state. The Mose administration came into power in 2016. The poor majority have largely protested his regime for its fuel hikes, corruption, high rates of unemployment, spiking inflation, currency devaluation, and extrajudicial killings by government officials.

Ottawa, however, supports the government and its repressive police force. Canadian officials have blamed any violence on protesters, and have told them to resort to ballot-boxes and voting instead of protesting. This is ironic, as Canadian officials took part in election interference when they raised funds in order to exclude the Lavalas party from running in the 2010 Haitian elections.

The Mose administration itself was brought into power through voter suppression. One in five eligible voters votedhe therefore only received 600,000 votes in a country made up of 10 million citizens. After protests arose due to his election, Canada released a statement defending him.

Canada has repeatedly ignored the violence of the Mose administration. Perhaps the most egregious example of this violence is in November 2018, when the U.N. confirmed involvement by the Haitian government in a massacre that left up to 71 people dead in Saline, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.

According to an article in Ricochet, Canadian police have also provided support and training to the violent forces that have maintained Moses rule, and have remained silent on it.

When asked if the film resonates with the current turbulence around the Black Lives Matter movement, Brire agrees there is a relation, as Canada has become a full-fledged member of the club that keeps the boot on Haitis neck and doesnt let them breathe. She acknowledges how the histories of Haiti and Black Lives Matter are both rooted in colonialism, and how Haitis suffering is rooted in its existence as the worlds first Black republic.

Its shameful that the treatment of Haiti is disguised as helping Haiti, said Brire.

I wonder when we are going to let go of punishing Haiti every time they try to bring a modicum of social justice to their long-suffering people.

At the end of the film, were circled back to the man yelling outside the Canadian embassy, in the dusty, open terrain of Port-au-Prince.

We are tired, he chants. The Haitians arent against you! Why are you against the Haitians? Why do you support the forces against the people? he asks.

The film ends thereleaving the audience, together with the man, begging for an answer.

*The film Haiti Betrayed is available for rent through the Cinema Politica On Demand Service. It can be accessed here.

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.

Original post:

'Haiti Betrayed' Reveals Reality Behind Canada's Reputation as Peacekeeper | Fringe Arts - The Link

OPINION: Who is responsible for fast fashion worker abuses in Britain? – Thomson Reuters Foundation

* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Joanna Ewart-James is the Executive Director of Freedom United and a Trustee for Labour Behind the Label Trust

Over the past two weeks discussions abound on the causes of, and responsibility for the exploitation of workers in Leicesters garment industry. Conclusions range from the home secretarys statement that cultural sensitivities prevented police from acting, to the popular position that the heavily-advertised and so easily recognised brands, namely Boohoo, should squarely be in the firing line.

A cross-government taskforce has been set up by the Home Office to investigate how conditions allowed this exploitation. This has been welcomed in aletter by a coalition of NGOs led by Labour Behind the Label, which points to a decades worth of numerous reports detailing abusive working conditions in Leicester, and other factories both in the UK and internationally.

Indeed, Raj Mann, the police contact for Leicesters Sikhs, explained that The local authorities have known these sweatshops exist for decades but theyve been loath to do anything about it for fear of being accused of picking on immigrant or refugee communities, as a lot of the exploited workers are of Indian background.

On the face of it, this quote might support the political correctness argument but what it disguises is a tolerance of exploitation that is facilitated through restrictive immigration policies, the infamous hostile environment in the UK, and race discrimination in society at large that pushes people from minority ethnic groups, including migrants, into accepting illegal exploitation.

Labour Behind the Labels reportexplains: The lack of documented resident status or entitlement to work means that many workers are willing to accept poor conditions in exchange for a job even one without formal contracts or minimum wages.

This also contributes to a situation where workers are unable or unwilling to speak out about labor rights abuses for fear of being deported or otherwise investigated.In the face of race discrimination reducing opportunities and undermining protections, even those with the right to work are easily coerced.

This is not a local Leicester issue, it is a nationwide, no global system that tolerates and even facilitates the mistreatment and exploitation of relatively poor peoples labour because of accepted social discrimination based on race, ethnicity or caste, for an industry bent on driving prices down, quick turnaround, and low labour costs, putting tremendous pressure worldwide on low-wage, immigrant manufacturing workers to churn out cheap garments whilst society comfortably turns a blind eye to what must be the true cost.

A lot less talked about is the role of consumers, the public at large, and their power to change the status quo that has facilitated this exploitation. Some consumers have posted their outrage on Boohoos social media channels, and may be surprised to have learnt that sweatshops are not only a blight for developing countries.

Its possibly the western location of this site of exploitation has underpinned the swift backlash as Next, Asos, and Zalando dropped Boohoo, and Standard Life Aberdeen, a major Boohoo shareholder, dumped nearly all of its shares in the company. Boohoos stock has tanked, dropping 23% and wiping 1 billion from the value of the company.

Yes Boohoo must revise their purchasing practices but we need a shift from a constant game of campaigning by brand, to changes in the wider environment creating communities that are resilient to exploitation. That extendsbeyond the brands practices into a slavery-free economy, civic leadership, labour rights and consumer habits, to draw from Dr Alison Gardners modelling of the social determinants for sustainable resilience to slavery.

At the moment consumers are mostly left in the dark when it comes to supply chains and labour practices in garment factories, limiting their ability to leverage their consumer power without the momentum of a big media campaign.

Thats why transparency is a strong starting point, albeit far from the desirable end point of corporate action. Transparency is publishing full details of a companys supply chain, it is not, as Boohoos action suggest, committing to publishing information and terminating relationships with suppliers on finding illegal practices.

Working towards an end to exploitation like weve seen in Leicester is about everything from changing business practices to building consumer knowledge through transparency and so behaviour; measuring success not simply by measuring profits; being firm on tackling discrimination; providing legal routes for migrant workers; enforcing employment law; and much in between.

Together, as society, we can reset expectations creating the will for change in a system that sadly makes exploitation of some people for others benefit all too easy today.

More:

OPINION: Who is responsible for fast fashion worker abuses in Britain? - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Interview: Cory Booker – Making real the ideals of our country | Open Future – The Economist

Jul 14th 2020

THE PAST IS never dead. It's not even past, wrote William Faulkner, an American novelist. The observation rings especially true for the agonising problem of race in America. After centuries of slavery and segregation, African-Americans achieved formal legal equality only in the 1960s. Yet discrimination persists and they are far more likely to be victims of police violence than other demographic groups.

Cory Booker is a Democratic senator from New Jersey with bold ideas on how to improve the situation. In an interview with The Economist, he traced the cords of injustice that lay the foundation for todays problems, and offered solutions ranging from baby-bond legislation (giving poor children trust accounts) to removing ageing lead pipes that literally poison the countrys children.

Thats not radical, he says about these sorts of reforms, but common moral sense. The interview below with Mr Booker has been lightly edited.

***

The Economist: When you see a mass movement for racial justice happening again in this country and when you see frustration, not just over criminal justice, but the fact that black and white income gaps and wealth gaps are basically the same since 1968, what does that make you conclude about American society and government? Is it that formal legal equality has failed to guarantee equality of opportunity for black Americans?

Cory Booker: Look, we are a nation that has strong, sort of unbroken cords of racial injustice that have been with us for generations. And where lots of generational wealth has been created through the GI Bill [support to veterans for housing and education] through Social Security, through the Homestead Act, which granted massive tracts of land to new immigrants to this country. These are things that blacks were excluded from, that were barriers to economic opportunity.

We have a nation like that, up into my lifetime. My parents literally had to get a white couple to pose as us in order to buy a home in an affluent area of suburban New Jersey with great public schools. But we still live in a country where this denial of equal education is a part of our national fabric. Even today, we see schools that African-Americans attend receiving dramatically less funding than schools that are predominantly white.

These strong cords of injustice have never been broken. Our prison population has gone up about 500% since 1980 alone. Theres no difference between blacks and whites in using drugs or dealing drugs. But African-Americans were arrested for those crimes at rates three or four times higher than whites.

We have powerful, powerful forces of overt and institutional racism over the years that has really underdeveloped African-American opportunity and equality. It stretches now from the health-care system to issues of environmental justice. The number one indicator of whether you live around a Superfund site [designated a heavily polluted area] or drink dirty water or breathe unclean air is the colour of your skin. All of these things in their totality create a nation that still has such savage disparities and outcomes based upon race.

And I am encouraged that in this momentand I hope it's not a moment, I hope it grows to a greater movementthere is a greater expansion of our circles of empathy for each other. A greater understanding of the injustices that are there. It seems to be the dawning of an expansion of our moral imagination about how we can actually become a nation of equality, a nation of justice, and a nation that honors its highest values with a reality that reflects them.

The Economist: And how do you begin that difficult task of unwinding those deep threads that have not ever been broken? Whether its housing, policing, criminal justice, environmental issueshow do you start that? And do you feel optimistic about the possibility of change on some of those entrenched policy areas?

Mr Booker: Well, in a larger sense, first of all, the personal pronoun you use: I hope it's not a you, I hope its how do we do that? It's very hard in our country for us to create leaps in advancement without there being a greater sense of collective we, and a collective responsibility. The incredible legislation that's passed in our past from the suffrage movement to the labour movement to the civil-rights movement of the 1960s were all movements that happen because large swathes of American people put on personal responsibility to make dramatic change. The progressive movement in the 1920s was fuelled by people who weren't often directly affected by issues, seeing an urgency to change based on a growing consciousness.

It seems to be the dawning of an expansion of our moral imagination about how we can actually become a nation of equality

That is still ongoing: trying to expose the realities that are affecting our country as a whole and black people in particular, so that people feel a sense of moral urgency to address them. There are things that go on in our prison system that most Americans dont realise happen: that we shackle pregnant women when they're giving birth, that we put children in solitary confinement for extensive periods of times, even though our psychological professionals say that its torturous and causes brain damage.

I was encouraged when I heard very learned people telling me they never knew about what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma. [The prosperous neighbourhood of Greenwood, known as Black Wall Street, was destroyed by white residents in 1921.] Where people didn't know about the many places around this country that had seen such racial terror to the point where thousands upon thousands of Americans were lynched, often elected leaders, poor judges pulled out into streets and beaten. These stories have just been whitewashed from our history. I'm hopeful that we are at a period where awareness is growing, and with that, a sense of urgency to address it.

Now, when you talk about me in a particular senseand use that personal pronoun like you, Cory Booker, as a senatorI have an obligation to try to continue to push the bounds of justice as a United States senator and propose things that will actually have a very practical impact on disparities.

For example, baby-bond legislation is not that sexy, but it's this idea that every child, regardless of race, born in our nation, gets a $1,000 savings account. And then based upon their income, just like we base the earned-income tax credit, that child will get up to $2,000 a year placed in an interest-bearing account that compounds interest. By the time they're 18, the lowest-income American kids will have upwards of $50,000 saved.

Columbia University looked at that legislation for young adults and found it would virtually close the racial wealth gap. Policy solutions like that, like massive expansions of the earned-income tax credit [which tops up the wages of low-income Americans] or the child tax credit. These are things that affect poverty overall in our country, but would end poverty for a significant percentage of African Americans.

The Economist: After this period of consciousness-raising, what else might go in a Great Society-like radical programme of change, assuming that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump were not part of this conversation for the moment?

Mr Booker: I hope that our policies begin to reflect what real public safety is. We know unequivocally by the facts that expanding Medicaid lowers violence. Expanding the earned-income tax credit lowers violence. You can go through these things that you know empower people. There are pilot programmes all over this country that show that dealing with people who are struggling with mental illness with police causes their death.

I hope that our policies begin to reflect what real public safety is

Black folks are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than somebody white. Someone with a mental illness is over ten more likely to be killed by the police than someone whos white. And to think that we actually could have services that help people have [mental] health-care. Thats not radical, that's just common fiscal sense, as well as common moral sense. To have an expansive view of public safety, to start investing as a society into those things that help people, who are hurt and fragile, can lead to greater human flourishing.

Our country is an outlier. We really dont do much for children until they turn five or six. So we lead industrial nations in infant mortality, in maternal mortality and in low-birthweight babies. It would be cheaper to revive at-risk women doula-care than to pay the extraordinary costs of premature birth. Something called nurse-family partnershipswhich is just having a nurse visit a home to be supportive with information for at-risk pregnant womenactually lowers encounters with police dramatically. Every taxpayer dollar you spend on the programme saves four or five taxpayer dollars because it lowers visits to the emergency room for that mother and that child.

Its not like we dont know how to elevate human potential while saving taxpayer dollars, or how to lower our reliance on police, courts and prisons. We know enough already. Its just that were not, as a society, collectively prioritising what would be a much more beloved way to move forward. And so this greater human consciousness, I hope elevates this ideal that, whether youre a fiscal conservative or a progressive liberal, these are things that abide with all of our values. Its why Ive had some success moving criminal-justice reform with strange partners, like the Koch brothers or the Heritage Foundation.

In a globally competitive environment, America is really falling behind those nations that do a better job of elevating human flourishing and human potential. The number China has in their top 10% of their high-school students is relatively close to the number of all of our high-school students. In a global knowledge-based society, your greatest natural resource is the genius of your children.

In a globally competitive environment, America is really falling behind those nations that do a better job of elevating human flourishing and human potential

And were doing a bad job because were a nation that has an astonishingly high level of children whose brains are addled by permanent lead damage. There are over 3,000 jurisdictions where children have more than twice the blood-lead level of Flint, Michigan, and they are disproportionately black and brown children. And so right now we don't even care enough. And I know we have the heart for it, but were not manifesting it in our policies to do something simple, which would have been a fraction of the last covid-19 bill. Why dont we as a country replace every lead service line in America that goes to our schools, to day-care centres and to homes in the United States that would actually pay for itself through the productivity of those children and saving them from the violence associated with lead poisoning.

There are a lot of common-sense things that we can do that should accord with the values of everybody who calls themselves pro-life to everybody who calls themselves a progressive, but we're just not doing it.

And so this is what the echoed words of our ancestors said. Martin Luther King, who wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, was very critical. He actually said Im not as upset with the White Citizens Council or the KKK, I'm far more upset with the white moderates who are doing nothing. And he eloquently said that we have to repent in our day and age, not just for the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of the good people.

Well, I fear that we will have to repent in our generation, if more of us who are good peopleand that is the overwhelming majority of Americanslet another generation go by, where we dont correct these persistent injustices with strategies that we know work and that we know will save us taxpayer dollars. Yet we fail to engage in the struggle to make them possible. As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, If theres no struggle, there is no progress.

The Economist: A programme like baby bonds, which would do a lot on the racial wealth gap, would take 18 years for those accounts to accrue. And in the present day, theres a strong racial child-poverty gap. What do you see as the tools to fix that problem?

Mr Booker: The two very obvious tools are a massively expanded earned-income tax rate by more than half and a massively expanded child tax credit, like a lot of our peer nations do. But there's other tools that wed have to use to catch us up to the rest of the industrial world, like having affordable child care. We have a country in which child care in most states is more expensive than state-college tuition. It is unconscionable that we are doing that.

These are insane things that go on in this country that in our peer nations do not

We have something called the mortgage-interest deduction, for example, that is overwhelmingly used by the higher income. That tax expenditure goes to the wealthy in our country overwhelmingly. Why dont we do something for working people in America and have a rental tax credit if youre paying more than a one-third of your income on rent, which would cut poverty by the millions in America and give people security? One of the things that so undermine student performance are families who face evictions and are jumping from apartment to apartment. So theyre facing issues of fairness in our tax code like the ones I just mentioned, while also dealing with issues like paid family leave or child care that would take America so far in ending racial gaps.

A friend of mine named Natasha who worked a minimum-wage job couldn't afford housing. Her son was sick with asthma. Again, a black child is about ten times more likely to die of asthma complications than a white child. And she had to make a terrible decision of whether to stay at her job and get a pay-cheque that she really needed to keep a roof over the head of her kid, or to leave and go across the street and be with her child in the emergency room who was gasping for breath. I mean, these are insane things that go on in this country that in our peer nations do not. And we put our families in deep levels of stress and anxiety that ultimately undermines their overall flourishing.

We in this generation can end those things if we are committed to making real the ideals of our country and the laws of our countrythat we really are a nation that believes in life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that believes in human flourishing; that believes in equal justice under the law. And these are things that I think are long past [due]. Time has come. And, interestingly, they poll really well on both sides of the political aisle. But our people in elected office need more of a push to make them the law of land.

The Economist: You remain the optimist.

Mr Booker: Thank you. Forever, a prisoner of hope. And if anything, our nation's history is testimony, the triumph of hope, often under insurmountable conditions and odds.

Dig deeper:Sign up and listen to Checks and Balance, our weekly newsletter and podcast on American politics, and explore our presidential election forecast

Here is the original post:

Interview: Cory Booker - Making real the ideals of our country | Open Future - The Economist

George Fitzhugh and the defense of slavery | Voices | republic-online.com – Miami County Republic

Pro-slavery advocates before and during the Civil War worked to defend the morality and necessity of American chattel slavery, and one of their defenses was that African-American slaves were actually much better treated than free white Americans.

George Fitzhugh wrote in Cannibals All! or Slaves Without Masters, published in 1856, of the benefits of American chattel slavery for African-Americans versus the plight of free white Americans.

But we not only boast that the White Slave Trade is more exacting and fraudulent (in fact, though not in intention) than Black Slavery; but we also boast that is tis more cruel , in leaving the laborer to care for himself and his family out of the pittance which skill or capital have allowed him to retain. When the days labor is ended, he is free, but is overburdened with the cares of family and household, which makes his freedom and empty and delusive mockery. But his employer is really free, and may enjoy the profit made by others labor, without a care, or a trouble, as to their well-being. The negro slave is free too, when the labors of the day are over, and free in mind as well as body; for the master provides food, raiment, house, fuel, and everything else to the physical well being of himself and his family. The masters labors commence just when the slaves end. No wonder men should prefer white slavery to capital, to negro slavery, since it is more profitable, and is free from all the cares and labors of black slave-holding.

The defenders of American chattel slavery argued that free white Americans were wage slaves, forced to work long hours for low wages in horrid working conditions, which was actually quite true. This gave credibility to the pro-slavery argument in the minds of white Americans in 1856.

Slaveholders asserted that they were benevolent to their slaves and actually treated their slaves well, whereas northern factory owners and other employers abused and overworked their white American employees and then callously cast them out of their work places to fend for themselves, casting the freedom of white Americans as a miserable existence.

Pro-slavery advocates argued that African-American slaves, on the other hand, lived secure lives of comfort and security under the paternalistic care of enlightened and benevolent Christian slave holders.

Indeed, Fitzhugh argued that The negro slaves in the South are the happiest, and in a sense, the freest people in the world, and that they were well treated, living in a utopian world without stress or want.

Free white American workers, on the other hand, were described as wage slaves who were held in thrall by greedy psychopathic employers, and thus abolitionists and free soil advocates were villains who wanted to wrench the slaves from their utopian existence in slavery into the horrific misery that free white Americans had to endure in their daily lives.

This view of slavery still persists in the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War, which persists to the present day.

Grady Atwater is site administrator of the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site.

The rest is here:

George Fitzhugh and the defense of slavery | Voices | republic-online.com - Miami County Republic

Boohoo complaints put spotlight on supply chains and working practices – Compliance Week

The reporter also found the factorybased in Leicester, the only U.K. city that has had its lockdown extended by two weeks because of a spike in coronavirus caseshad been operating continually since March without complying with recommended social-distancing measures. It is also accused the factory of pressuring workersthe majority of which were Asian and more susceptible to infectionto turn up for work even if they had tested positive for COVID-19.

The factorysignposted as Jaswal Fashionshad actually ceased trading in 2018 and was not a declared supplier. In a press statement, Boohoowhich owns fashion brands PrettyLittleThing, Karen Millen, and Coastsaid it appeared a different firm was using Jaswals former premises and that it was trying to establish the identity of this company and why its garments were in its hands.

Sarah Riding, a partner at law firm Gowling WLG, says that the fact that there are not proactive checks in place already at Boohoo is disappointing, given their prominent place in the market and claims of high ethical commercial standards.

On July 8 the company stated it would launch an immediate independent review of its U.K. supply chain; commit 10 million (U.S. $12 million) to root out supply chain malpractice; and speed up its independent third-party supply chain review with ethical audit and compliance specialists. The first update on its review will take place in September.

Its attempt to regain its ethical credentials has, however, so far not paid off.

Major retailers including Next, Asos, and Zalando dropped Boohoo following the allegations, while one of its largest shareholders, Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA), also divested most of its stock in the company.

Lesley Duncan, SLAs deputy head of UK equities, said that having spoken to Boohoos management team a number of times this week in light of recent concerning allegations, we view their response as inadequate in scope, timeliness, and gravity.

If a suppliers practices relating to human rights, labor standards, or environmental protection are found to be substandard, it is the customer company that will be held to account.

John Perry, Managing Director, SCALA

The case has highlighted a number of ongoing concerns over workers health and safety that have become exacerbated during the pandemic, as well as inherent weaknesses in companies monitoring of their supply chainsoften in industries reliant on high rotations of unskilled and (often undocumented) migrant labor.

Other U.K. companies have also fallen foul of abuses in their supply chains. On July 13 fast-fashion firm Quiz suspended one of the suppliers to its suppliers after claims another factory (also based in Leicester) offered a worker just 3 an hour to make its clothes. The national minimum wage for people over 25 years old is 8.72 an hour.

The National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) have since visited a number of business premises in the Leicester area to assess some of the concerns that have been raised in respect of modern slavery and have said that further visits are likely to continue. So far, they have not identified any offenses under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Transparency in supply chains has been hampered by the pandemic in several ways. Business interruption has caused some trusted and approved suppliers to go bust while an inability to source goods and materials quickly has forced some companies to switch contractors without conducting the usual levels of due diligence or conduct site visits due to travel restrictions and health and safety concerns during the lockdown. Approved suppliers may have also subcontracted part of the work due to financial necessity, despite the terms of their contracts.

Chris Wrigley, co-head of law firm Osborne Clarkes global compliance team, says that COVID-19 has made scrutiny of supply chains harder because of the difficulties in conducting audits and, in some sectors, the need to change supply chains in response to the pandemic. However, supplier due diligence should be ongoing and, as restrictions ease, there will be opportunities to address gaps that have been created by the pandemic.

One of the problems with monitoring supply chains is that companies tend to focus on getting more assurance on working practices in high-risk countriesin the case of garment manufacturing, this would include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia, and other developing countries: They take it as read that suppliers on their own doorsteps will act in accordance with their contractual obligations. The Boohoo and Quiz cases have shown how fanciful such expectations can be.

Experts say it has become increasingly obvious organizations need to talk to their suppliers about how they are monitoring their supply chains to ensure appropriate protections and standards are maintained. Companies also need to be prepared to enforce these expectations by contractual compliance obligations in their supplier contracts and codes of conduct, as well as carry out external audits and site visits. Further, if suppliers are going to subcontract part of the work, companies should insist on knowing what work will be contracted out, and to whom, so that they can be added to an approved list.

The U.K. Modern Slavery Act is meant to encourage businesses to understand where in their business and supply chains there are risks of employee exploitation or modern slavery and then identify effective steps and use their influence to improve conditions.

The legislation, however, only requires companies to make statements in their annual reports about what measuresif anythey are taking to uncover incidents of slavery in their supply chains. There are no criminal sanctions attached. Instead, the government hopes companies will do the right thing because failure to do so will hit their bottom lines more harshly than any fine could hope to achieve as customers and investors dump them.

Experts largely agree. If a suppliers practices relating to human rights, labor standards, or environmental protection are found to be substandard, it is the customer company that will be held to account, says John Perry, managing director of SCALA, a provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector.

Original post:

Boohoo complaints put spotlight on supply chains and working practices - Compliance Week

India asks local leaders to boost anti-trafficking drive amid virus threat – Thomson Reuters Foundation

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Village councils and community groups in India have been asked to protect children from traffickers and help authorities identify and rescue missing residents, amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing more people into modern slavery.

India's home affairs ministry this month issued an advisory urging state governments to set up or improve local anti-trafficking units, and work closely with community leaders to warn people about traffickers taking advantage of the outbreak.

Local councils may be asked to keep a register of villagers and track their movements to prevent children being "transported on a large scale for wage labour, prostitution and trafficking", said the directive by the ministry's women safety division.

State governments have also been tasked with launching anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, in addition to ramping up surveillance at bus stops, train stations and state borders.

"Generation of awareness at all levels is considered a very potent and effective weapon to fight the crime of trafficking and exploitation of women and children," the advisory said.

The home ministry could not be reached for further comment.

As India slowly opens up after months of lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19, officials and activists fear countless people without work, food or money may fall prey to traffickers.

Debt bondage islikely to increase as people struggle to pay off high-interest loans while child workers may slip under the radar andreturn to work as industries re-open, charities said.

"Children or youth are more likely to be persuaded or tricked by criminals who will take advantage of their emotional instability and missing support system," the advisory said.

Rishi Kant, founder of the anti-trafficking charity Shakti Vahini, said special measures and extra vigilance were necessary to combat the crime across India in the wake of the pandemic.

"Special committees under the leadership of village heads will have first-hand information on strangers in their neighbourhood or families that are in distress," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Both will help prevent the crime."

The federal government in March disbursed one billion rupees ($13.3 million) to strengthen existing anti-human trafficking police units at state level and establish new ones along India's borders with countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal.

About 2,400 human trafficking cases were reported in India in 2018, with nearly half of the victims aged under 18, according to the latest available government crime data.

Related stories:

In India, child labour victims struggle to receive state compensation

No way back: Indian workers shun city jobs after lockdown ordeal

Death of 12-year-old Indian farm worker spurs child labour probe

(Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj @AnuraNagaraj; Editing by Kieran Guilbert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

See the rest here:

India asks local leaders to boost anti-trafficking drive amid virus threat - Thomson Reuters Foundation


...34567...1020...