OMG! There’s Blood in my Chocolate!!

I have hated Valentine’s Day for many years. I’m sure if I were to troll through the archives of M.O.M I would uncover an ode or two to my disdain for this “holiday”.

I remember being a student at GIS, a school that was crawling with half-caste (as they were proudly and so politically incorrectly called in those days) and white girls, whose affections were unilaterally sought after by boys all over the city and within the confines of our school alike. Every year, massive bouquets, bottles of wine and cakes and confections of every hue and color would be delivered to these my fellow students by a band of underclassmen whose job it was to interrupt classes in order to drop off their packaged bounty. In the early 90s, light skin was so “in” (more-so than it is today, if you can imagine that) and I always felt a little ill when me and my darker skinned sisters were utterly and unapologetically snubbed by our equally dark skinned brothers in their favor. The year one ebony skinned girl named Anita trotted down the corridor with an obnoxious Valentine’s Day card sent by an admirer I nearly did a cartwheel. In your FACE!

You see folks – these are the roots of the ridiculous #TeamLightSkinned / #TeamDarkSkinned trends on twitter.

Now that I’m all grown up and married to an amazing man, I still have little reason to care for Valentine’s Day. My husband is uncommonly kind to me the majority of the year, and I like to think that I am to him as well. I don’t have to wait until February 14th to get a surprise gift, and in return, he doesn’t have to wait until the evening of the same night to be the recipient of toe curling, hot sweaty…you know where I’m going.

My dislike for this Hallmark has only been recently heightened by my discovery of something rather unsettling in regards to something that I enjoy virtually every month of the year: chocolate.

More specifically, there is blood – children’s blood – in a lot of the chocolate I consume.

I came across this article on CNN recently which details the horrors of modern day child slavery in West Africa’s cocoa fields: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/12/chocolates-child-slaves/

The issue of the use child labor in Africa’s cotton, cocoa and cassava fields is nothing new. When we studied it in primary school, our teacher dismissively told us that this was the lot of children of farmers. It wasn’t “slavery” per se, but rather conscripted labor, and birthright. Politician’s children went to university and the children of farmers worked in the field. I believed him…but then as a third grader I was literally just born the day before. What did I know?

I do know better now.

Anytime a human being is sold by another to perform any task, be it farm work or prostitution, that is slavery. There is no prettier word for such an ugly practice, and everyone is complicit, from the uncle who steals and sells his nephew to pay a debt, to the farmer who works the lad on his farm, to the government who exports this cocoa, to the US/UK conglomerate who purchases it without vetting its source, to the consumer who purchases and eats it. There is blood on all our hands!

When I walk into a Publix and pick up a Snickers or a Godiva, I do so to satisfy a craving, rarely giving thought to the journey this small piece of chocolate has taken from seed to package. But after reading the CNN report, it’s hard for me to get the image of that beautiful 10 year old boy, legs crisscrossed with machete wounds and a broken smile out of my mind. Is a 55 cent piece of candy really worth his suffering? I think not. Particularly when he himself never sees a penny for his labor, or let alone tasted the proverbial (finished) fruits of his labor.

It will take decades before the practice of child slavery on these farms ends, particularly if we the consumer continue to demand chocolate sourced from these fields. The good thing is, if you care, you can vote with your wallet. Do your research on a chocolate brand/manufacturer and make sure that their practices line up with your world view, then buy that chocolate exclusively. I am a great lover of chocolate, but I am a bigger lover of humanity, and I can think of no better way of celebrating this Valentine’s Day than punishing the draconian companies who would have me join their legion of zombies.

I am not a vampire. When I look in the mirror, there is an imagine staring back at me and I certainly don’t feast on little Black kids’ blood!

  • Oh, dang it! I LOVE fruit and nut by Cadbury so I could have done without the visual of the 10 yr old boy or the vampiric mess at the end LOL!

  • I subscribe to the campaign – “Ending Modern Day Slavery” but my Dear(s), as we question status quo, lets make sure we give alternative solutions. How best do you suggest we teach children, especially the youth how to love work. My Father yesterday rebuked our generation “Youth who do not know how to work, would not seek to learn how, and who do not plan to feature as workers – What is their future?” The fact that I worked on a ranch, on a coffee farm, in my youth, and I’m a graduate now, I maybe different. Maybe we need to see how the youth on cocoa farms graduate to man the courts of law, and the house of representatives. But we have to teach our children not only to work – but to love it.

    • Absolutely. But there is a stark difference between being employment and utter drudgery and this is clearly the case on these cocoa farms.

      When the source of the labor is from vulnerable children, the disadvantage is clear. Some will die and most will never see the inside of a classroom. You can teach a youth to love work by working him to death! Every generation thinks the one coming up is a failure in some regard. My grandfather thought my dad’s generation were nothing short of a gang of vagabonds with their bushy Afros and platform shoes. Now they are the very ones who scold us for the crimes they were previously accused of.

      The point is, if you want a child to grow up with good work ethic you must do so in a spirit of kindness and not contempt. Where is the kindness in stealing/selling human flesh for corporate gain?

      That was rhetorical.

  • Ammazing

    Ok Malaka so i really love the part about child labour and all but lets get to the superficial part. I really don’t remember the thing about boys liking ‘half caste’ girls more. I know plenty of half caste and white girls who were not getting any attention from the boys and an equal number of dark skinned girls who had boys running in circles. I always thought it was the ‘cool’ girls (and it was not colour which made them cool) and girls who were sexually adventurous who got attention.

    • That’s not my recollection AT ALL. For the sake of discretion, I don’t want to start name dropping to prove my point. I’ll just give you an acronym: JJESCAPE. Ring any bells? 😉

      But you’re right in one sense. The ‘cool’ girls did get a lot of play. But I never did. Does that mean I was wack in secondary school??? Hmmm..,

  • I tell my “peers” all the time that our dollars are silent consent of a company’s practices, good or bad.

    I get looked at crazy…often….

  • Ammazing

    no JJESCAPe does not ring any bells, but it makes me smile.

  • Raven

    I don’t dispute that child slavery is against the law let alone unethical but this “blood” comment is wrongly used as what’s been talked about here is the suffering & not bloodshed. It’s even pretty clear in the bible that David couldn’t build God a house because he had blood in his hands meaning he had shed blood & that’s different compared to inflicting suffering. Unless killing these children was involved,there isn’t any blood in that chocolate but a servere God sent curse which it is better for the inflictor to tie a stone on his head & throw it down to the bottom of the sea. Those who know this & continue to buy are as good as accomplices.

  • Raven

    Malaka, Long blank stare huh!…
    When you post an article be ready for anything including criticism, not everyone is going to completely agree with your observation, not everyone will be seeking your approval,if it offends you then your not a true blogger & you aren’t ready to learn from others coz criticism isn’t meant to fault you it’s mean to enlightened you,so it’s an attitude issue how you take it,if you were talking about blood diamonds there’s no argument about that,blood will definitely will be in it. Again anyone who knows the Christian Bible,the new testament doesn’t need to show blankness about it unless you don’t follow or read it at all.

    • O_o

    • Oh @ Raven, lighten up! Malaka responded the way she would have had you been having a live conversation: that is to look at you quizzically. She didn’t understand your intial response and frankly neither did I! You lost me @ ****Unless killing these children was involved, there isn’t any blood in that chocolate but a servere God sent curse which it is better for the inflictor to tie a stone on his head & throw it down to the bottom of the sea.**** Huh? The word blood was used in the right context; she meant it figuratively not literally. I’m sure she welcomes criticism, perhaps it is you who should steady yourself for the same.

    • Kwaku

      I guess it’s time for a critic to be criticized. @Raven, I may be wrong, but you come across as an individual who has never left the small town you live in and know nothing of the plight these children and others like them go through. But what really gets to me is how you throw the Christian Bible in there just to justify a point, as if you actually had one. This is exactly why the author stated within the blog to do your own research, which you obviously didn’t, seeing as you miraculously placed your pc up your a$$ and proceeded to transfer words into this comment section. Just because the term “blood diamonds” has been popularized by the media does NOT mean “blood” is exclusive to this product. Do me a favor, as suggested earlier, do your research before responding with such asinine comments for the whole world to see.

  • Raven

    @NM & Malaka just study the life of Jesus in the new testament Christian bible,from birth to death.

    • NM

      Uh huh….ok, I’ll get right on that.

  • Raven

    @NM to narrow down your search Jesus spoke in parables,that’s why it’s necessary to study than just read,there’s that time when He brings out the significance of children to Himself & the outcome of anyone who comes between Him & them,slavery comes between Him & them. You can still study to now get the whole gist.

    • Kwaku

      Alright, now I’m really confused. I’m not sure if you are trying to support or dispute a claim here, or just stringing random words together and hoping for a meaningful sentence. What does any of this have to do with “blood chocolate” as we will call it here?
      I know for a fact that I am not that dumb, but by Gandalf’s ballsack, you have successfully stumped the heck out of me. Don’t take any of this personally, I’m just a critic who can’t agree with your “point” because I don’t really see it.

      • That’s because there ISN’T one!!!!

        We’re talking about social injustice and she’s talking about…well damn it if I know what she’s talking about!

        @Raven- This isn’t funny any more. Please tell me you aren’t as crazy as you sound. No for real. I’m concerned.

      • NM

        @Kwaku: Not by Gandalf’s ballsack!! LMBO!

    • No no no. You misunderstood NM. This what we call – on intelligent circles – “sarcasm”. Look it up.

    • NM

      Oh dear! LOL! @ Raven, I was being sarcastic; I am familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I still fail to make the connection between the building of the temple by David, the use of the word ‘blood’ figuratively in the original post, the bible, parables, people tying stones to their necks and flinging themselves into the sea….. You assumed Malaka was stung by your criticism when the truth is she couldn’t make sense of your muddled responses; you were all over the place.

  • Raven

    This confirms the saying,you can take a donkey to the river but you can’t make it drink,just as you both can’t see my point. None of you are truely out to learn and are now not worth my time,am better of holding mature conversations than with younglings who take offense at the slightest criticism and act all childish about it.

    • No. This confirms you need to read a book and brush up on your grammar skills. You’ve been “gbaaing shots” since you began posting in this section.

      This group of donkeys has no interest in your fetid water, which is why we shall not drink!

      All the same, I hope you hold to your promise and take your “knowledge” elsewhere. As you implied, it’s of no use to anyone here. Peace!

    • Kwaku

      Actually, the old saying you refer to here involves a horse not a donkey, but I see what you were trying to do there. Fail #1. Now on to Fail #2, little miss “maturity”. You still could have clarified your so-called point before running off, but something tells me even you know you really didn’t have one. As Malaka also implied, go do your attention getting somewhere else.
      Boom!

    • NM

      LOL…oh goodness…..alright then, moving on.

  • A-dub

    I missed all the fun… man!