Tag Archives: Slavery

Two Plantations: A Retrospective

  I, too, sing America. — Langston Hughes, 1945 i. Fewer than six miles apart, between two kinks in the same stretch of the Mississippi, stand two ancestors modern America would rather forget. An hour beyond the hum of New Orleans, Laura and Whitney hold the same plots they held 200 years ago. Since then, from atop the balconies of the Big Houses, the changes to this Louisiana landscape are almost imperceptible, the horizon newly busied with the occasional whizz of cars and the steadily rising levee that hides the river’s edge from view. Come, when the summer sun is at its highest and the trees cast only their slimmest shadows, as though rationing relief. In heat like this, shelter from the leaves above never seems to stretch quite far enough. “Feel free to take one,” chirps the guide at Whitney, gesturing towards the barrel of umbrellas just behind us. …

“Working like a machine? Have a break. Have a Kit-Kat.”

In the shadows of a trade worth up to $80 billion per year lurks an industry notoriously shy of scrutiny. As we gorge upon our favourite luxurious treat, we don’t spare a thought for those involved in its production. A cloak of hideous secrecy tucks exploitation away, safe from ubiquitous discovery. The reality is harrowing: beneath the rich, luscious surface of our sweet delight resides a clandestine dystopia filled to the brim with the veiled stench of child labour. As helpless mothers mourn for their kidnapped sons in Burkina Faso, we shove chocolate bar after chocolate bar down our throats. There is something poignant about the fact that those who make our chocolate never get to taste the product they slave so desperately over, not to mention that they aren’t even paid and undergo dangerous manual labour with machetes and blades. It beggars belief that this injustice manages to skate …