Black Gold Using The Theoretic Works Of W.E.B Du Bois

2597 words - 11 pages

In many U.S homes, as is the custom in most western cultures, the first beverage consumed at the start of every day is coffee. From its origins in Ethiopia, the strong black liquid has evolved from its modest beginnings to become an art form, a gourmet luxury, and the addiction of millions. The documentary Black Gold directed by Nic and Marc Francis addresses issues that rarely cross the minds of its consumers: who produces the coffee, and how does the coffee we drink directly affect the livelihood of those farmers who grow it? The documentary highlights the poverty that plagues Ethiopian coffee farmers by contrasting the impoverished African cities with the wealth of the western countries ...view middle of the document...

The idea of The Color Line is clearly demonstrated in the documentary as the directors show the viewers how coffee has been integrated into both African and Western cultures, while illustrating a stark contrast between the living conditions of the two. The film explains that the prices of which the Ethiopian coffee is sold for worldwide are set in the cities of New York and London. Buyers for mega companies, such as Nestle and Starbucks, buy the coffee from several third world countries at the lowest prices, disregarding the efforts of the farmers to grow the crop and their reliance on the coffee trade to stimulate their economy. In one scene, Tadesse Meskela, the General Manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, questioned the Ethiopian farmers he represents on how much they thought their coffee was being sold for globally. One kilo of their coffee produces 80 cups that are sold for approximately 2.90 USD each, equivalent to the amount of 25 Ethiopian Birr. This equates then to make one kilo of their produced and valued at 230 USD or 2,000 Birr. Buyers belonging to mega corporations buy their coffee at 0.75 Birr (0.08 cents) per kilo without negotiation. From a larger global perspective, The Color Line can also be extended to other coffee producing countries in Central America where the population is largely of a darker skin complexion, and an increase in poverty has occurred at the cost for the production of coffee crops exceeds what it is being sold for in the world market (Black Gold).Through the manipulation of these countries by unequal trade relations with largely White run corporations, a clear divide between the skin color of those who produce the commodity and those who obtain the wealth is evident and undeniable.
In his work on The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois defines the concepts of The Veil and Double Consciousness, meanings of which are used separately but are intertwined as the first concept provides insight into the other. The Veil is described as the physical forms of interactions between the oppressed and the oppressors, and how connections and barriers among them effect the perceptions and behaviors of both parties. An example of The Veil observed in the documentary can be seen during the taping of the 2003 World Trade Organization conference held for delegates from around the world to establish rules for global trade. As the days progressed in the conference, tensions between developing countries rose as their demands were ignored amidst hundreds of delegates of the United States and other western countries who prioritized business and capital gain. One female delegate from Africa accused western delegates of sabotage as many of them held private meetings in their hotel rooms to discuss business matters. What was meant to be a platform for formal interactions between countries became a divided meeting between those who advocated for change and others who preferred to maintain the status quo. The definition of...

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