How can any business pay poverty wages, knowingly use child labor, participate in funding violence, or pollute water on which communities depend? How can any company withhold life-saving medicine for the sake of profit? I asked this question to Emira Woods at the Institute for Policy Studies as I was preparing for the Economic Action for Africa issue of the Green American. Her answer: “they don’t even see the people and their needs.”
My research for the Quarterly opened my eyes. I began to see the people whose lives are behind the coffee, jewelry, chocolate, rubber, and other everyday products in all our lives, and it was a revelation. Below is my recommended reading list – some of the resources I found most helpful in understanding commodities' journeys from African communities to our own communities – plus links to more articles from Green America on economic action for Africa.