What About Conscientious Trade?

Got one of these beauties for Christmas and I'm in love with the exquisite craftswomanship! It was made by Manos Zapotecas: Southern Mexican textiles and accessories.

I was really excited that the label said it was fair trade. They even write the name of the artisan who made the purse on the label. I imagined Manos Zapotecas as a brand ran by Native Mexican women with Native Mexican employers. But when I went to their website was so disappointed it wasn't so fair.

1- Except for their sales manager and operations manager (maintenance), their administration is not Native-Mexican, not even Mexican. Only the artisans with the folkloric craftswomanship are. And you know the artisans who do the skilled hard work are not making the bulk of the money we pay and are not doing their work sitting behind desks at air-conditioned offices. It's like if Donald Trump called his brand's men suits made in Mexico fair trade. #Exploitation is not fair trade and shouldn’t be advertised as such, because that’s just perpetuating racial injustice in the world. Even if it started with good intentions, and these artisans are getting paid more than they would by selling their artwork at art fairs and flea markets like we see them do when we visit their country, fair would be if there was a path to ownership. In other words, a learning path for these craftswomen in developing countries to direct their own artistic talents' operations. A cooperative system or social enterprise. That would be fair trade. Not incorporating a hierarchical corporate system ran by white women, making up an attractive brand, hiring skilled craftswomen to do the hard manual skilled work for less than you can find anybody to do it in the US, and selling it as if it was charity in a pretty package.

When a brand sells folkloric artwork but it’s operated by people from a different culture that is cultural appropriation – the ugliest side of it.

2- Another big problem is having all the models on the site being non-native, non-Mexican, white women. What message is that sending? To a conscious and cultured consumer it sends the terribly condescending message that there aren't beautiful native women or women of color, like the makers and originators of the beautiful folkloric artwork, that can model their own culture's folkloric artwork.

And we all know there are as many beautiful women of any color, of any race, in any culture.

What message is that type of marketing sending to native girls and all non-white girls that are underrepresented all over the world, yet could be the face of brands like this representing another kind of beauty?

When I visited Mexico in my teens I had $500 for leisure spending for my month-long trip and bought a whole bunch of beautiful accessories, shoes, memorabilia, and ate all kinds of amazing food that weren't tacos or burritos – with the satisfaction of paying directly to the makers.

Just because natives of all parts of the world are too meek to correct false world perceptions about them doesn’t mean that it’s okay to prolong dishonest, cruel, and sickening perceptions of inferiority; perpetuating a falsehood that they are less beautiful, less civilized, less capable, or inferior than.

Indigenous civilizations were established on spirituality, sustainability, and tribal (community) principles. In other words, their ways were founded on respecting the mystery of creation, each other, and their bigger home mother earth. Under such virtuous unitary value system it is unlikely they would care to achieve world domination, especially through cruelty, the gluttony of excessive material accumulation, and while damaging the environment for all.

Too many people are still sick with a dualistic colonial mentality, with the illusion of pseudo-superiority. Even after so many injustices have been committed in the name of colonialism, humanity hasn't achieved immunity to the epidemic. And although it hurts natives' ability to catch up with the technology and finance system that currently rules the world, it's still mostly hurting the consciousness of the oppressors who more and more are dying of different illnesses, and need antidepressants and all kinds of meds, illegal drugs, and therapies to sedate themselves and cope knowing (even if subconsciously) that they are participating in so much daily wrong-doing, abuse, and injustice.

Why is it so hard for so many people to accept the truth that we are all children of mother nature and should be looking after each other?

Seven billion different configurations of the same essential materials, but we are all one-of-a-kind works of art in the museum of the universe. Biological miracles experiencing the phenomenon of life. So why aren't we enjoying every minute of it as we could if we RESPECTED and cared more about each other and the planet we share?

If given the circumstances of healthy growth, we all could know what our individual purpose and gifts are. Humanity is missing out in the opportunity to learn what there is to learn from one another.

More people who consider themselves civilized, cultured, and intelligent consumers should familiarize themselves with terms like cultural appropriation, deculturization, and exploitation (especially gaining profit exploiting another culture).

What about creating organizations that trade skills instead? Where people interested in learning native craftswomanship could trade knowledge by teaching technical, administrative, and upper management skills. That cooperative approach would be a mindful trade worth of calling itself fair trade. If everyone could do a little of everything and get paid the same, since the product being sold is endangered-to-be-extinct, high-valued, hard-to-make handmade folkloric craftswomanship.

I still LOVE my purse and will wear the exquisite craftswomanship with great joy. But I really look forward to more conscientious commerce and trade.
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