Voices

Part of the Solution?

 Forced labor sculptureOne of the things I relish about my work at NURFC is the chance to develop a deeper understanding about enslavement today and the steps I can take in my own life to end it.

Our Invisible: Slavery Today  gallery is jam-packed with facts and stories surrounding those who daily face conditions that make exploitation easy. The light bulb moment for me has been not that there are enslaved people still extant, but the industries in which forced labor is used to keep prices down on goods I personally might use and buy, making me complicit.

I, like many people, make many choices when buying products, and for many reasons, some even political. But I think I’m too eager, as so many of us are, to make price the bottom line choice, without ever thinking about how that low, low price is possible. I try to be a good global citizen by buying fair trade, especially in industries I know to be worker exploitative, like clothing, chocolate, coffee, and jewelry. But it did not occur to me before visiting NURFC that my price on a rug or bricks could be made possible by child or forced labor. Now that I am aware, I will look for products by goodweave, for instance, which combats child labor in the rug weaving industry.

For more information about slavery today, and the steps we can take to help eradicate it, please visit our Invisible: Slavery Today  permanent exhibit on the third floor.

- Gina K. Armstrong, IMLS Coca-Cola Museum Studies Apprentice