I grew up with the message Harry Potter, that love has a power beyond the reach of any magic, money, or status. A crucial step in our world embodying such a message lies in honoring our children. The cocoa industry is unfortunately plagued by the exploitation of cocoa farmers whose children continue to go hungry. In extreme circumstances, children are kidnapped from their families and trafficked as slaves on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast. The entire cocoa industry is so corrupt that unless there is a transparent way (such as the process required by the Fair Trade label) to prove that chocolate comes from ethically grown cocoa, there is a chance that it funded the market for the trafficking of children and an almost definite chance that it funded the perpetuation of global hunger amongst children. I and thousands of fans want to see Harry Potter's name used to promote products that come from values that Harry Potter and those closest to him would stand by. In short, I want to see all Harry Potter chocolate become Fair Trade - so that we can all know that our delicious chocolate frogs are not coming at the expense of the messages that JK Rowling imbued in the series, of the goodwill in the Harry Potter fandom, and most certainly, in the lives of children across our
Given Warner Bros. statement that they are opposed to the exploitation of farmers and to child slavery under all circumstances, this should have been a no brainer for them. But when Harry Potter fans in the Harry Potter Alliance showed Warner Bros. that Behr's Chocolate, the company they use to make all Harry Potter chocolate got an "F" in human rights by the world renowned Free2Work, Warner Bros. ignored us. Finally upon further inquiry, Warner Bros. released a statement that they had conducted an internal investigation that proves that Behr's Chocolate is ethical in how they come by their cocoa. It’s a report that they refuse to disclose even though over 16,000 Harry Potter fans have asked them to. Our world has so much suffering in it and I was hoping that Warner Bros. realized that it has amazing power and responsibility in changing that. I was hoping that in dark and difficult times, they would make a choice between what is right and what is easy, and their choice would be what is right. Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen what is easy in place of what is right. They seem to have calculated that as a giant company there is little recourse that we ordinary folk have in challenging them.
But I think they calculated incorrectly. Time Magazine made the 2011 Person of the Year, "The Protestor" as we have seen a year where the power of ordinary people has created an Arab Spring, an Occupy Movement, and more. Forty year old dictatorships have been brought down thanks to ordinary people who have had nothing but will, creativity and access to social media. Warner Bros. has miscalculated. I commend Warner Bros. for its recent campaign to use it’s ownership of DC Comics to use Superman and Batman to inspire people to help in the Horn of Africa with their “We Can Be Heroes Campaign.” But in light of the fact that Warner Bros. has shown blatan disregard for African child slaves, I believe that this campaign looks like nothing more than a cynical public relations move that neither Superman, Batman, or for that matter Harry Potter could approve of as something effectively authentic.
If Warner Bros. wants us to be heroes, then they can start acting like heroes. They can make all Harry Potter chocolate Fair Trade and assure us all that the name of their most lucrative franchises is not going to the exploitation of children.