Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett
Chapter 25: Fair trade and racial equity in Africa
If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behavior set up by and maintained by whites, then YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that) … If on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you. (Biko 1978, 24) Do Fairtrade markets offer an avenue for free participation in which all members, regardless of their race, ethnicity or creed can directly influence the rules of exchange; or are producers of color largely relegated to the status of perpetual pupil as they struggle to learn about and comply with a certification system over which they have little control? Using Biko’s concerns about integration as a framework for examining the racial dimensions of Fairtrade participation, in this chapter I clarify how certification is both reinforcing and transcending longstanding disparities. Providing evidence from the African continent I argue that while Fairtrade is not immune from the savage inequities found in the global economy, certified markets offer a viable space for building interracial solidarity as African networks tackle the racial hierarchy in production and trade.
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