STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE FIRST-PLACE WINNER
By: Tiffany Melillo
Every day, regardless of what I do, I use forced labor.
No, I am not a plantation owner in the South during the Civil War, nor am I a current factory owner in Asia. Rather, I am a 21-year-old Fordham student from the Bronx. I grew up in a loving, middle-class family with happily married parents, a brother, and a cat. I do not fit the stereotype of someone who uses forced labor, but I assure you that I do.
According to Made in a Free World, I currently use 26 “slaves”, but I am positive that number is low. My consumerism is contributing to a cycle full of injustice. The goods I buy come at the cost of the marginalized both domestically and internationally. Child, forced, or under-paid labor are a woven part of a majority of the items I own, yet, there is only so much that I can — perhaps willing is a better word — do about it.
I am trying to find a way to live a “normal” life in such a manner that I do not contribute to the human rights abuses that are happening every day and help those whose lives have been adversely affected, or ruined, by this social sin[i],. I do not have a solution to these problems, but I know that Fair Trade can help. Throughout this essay I will described my Fair Trade journey and the ethical challenges I have faced throughout it.