Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Russell Simmons: Apologist for African Diamond Industry

Say it aint so: Russell Simmons tours mines in Bostwana in a bid to show how the industry is benefiting Africa.
Photo: Chi Modu

Human rights activists cried foul today when Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons toured Botswana's Jwaneng mine, the world's richest, in a bid to "show the world how some African nations are benefiting from diamonds." WTF! This seems like a serious misstep for a man who at times can appear so progressive, what with the vegan yoga hip hop acitivist schtick. I suppose, it's worth remembering that he didn't get to be a billionaire just by sitting in zen bliss and eating tofu. I'm just scratching my head trying to figure how he justifies being a mouth piece for the African diamond industry when some of the bloodiest conflicts on the continent have been fueled by "blood" diamonds and millions of black and brown folks toil in mines all over the world in what amounts to 21's century slavery. "Russell Simmons is being played by the industry. It's another diamond industry publicity stunt," said Alex Yearsley, a Global Witness conflict diamond specialist. Shame on you Russell!

Read all about this disgraceful s*&t here.

The horror of slavery, says Kevin Bales, is "not confined to history." It is not only possible that slave labor is responsible for the shoes on your feet or your daily consumption of sugar, he writes, the products of forced labor filter even more quietly into a broad portion of daily Western life. "They made the bricks for the factory that made the TV you watch. In Brazil slaves made the charcoal that tempered the steel that made the springs in your car and the blade on your lawnmower.... Slaves keep your costs low and returns on your investments high." The exhaustive research in Disposable People shows that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world.

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