I Bet You Didn't Know October Is Fair Trade Month

I Bet You Didn't Know October Is Fair Trade Month

Buy from sustainable and fair-trade-certified companies.

October is known for a lot of great things, including breast cancer awareness month, Halloween and the onset of autumn. But a lesser known feature of October is that it is Fair Trade Month. What exactly is fair trade? The World Fair Trade Organization defines it as "a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers."

You might not know it, but there are a lot of great companies out there that participate in fair trade. One such company was brought to my attention not too long ago. Though I didn't know much about the company itself, I had seen its brands on the shelves of local drugstores. One of these brands is Shea Moisture, a Sundial Brands product and an amazing cosmetics business that purchases their ingredients from women in developing countries. You can find Shea Moisture products at many stores including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Sephora, Ulta, and Target.

Featured on their Instagram account are stories of mothers in developing countries like Ghana, who help harvest shea for Shea Moisture. These women receive a monetary income which helps their families and children in many ways. This is one of my favorite parts about Shea Moisture and, if you have read some of my other articles, you will know that if a product supports the well-being of others, I am all about it.

Fair Trade Month is incredibly important because it represents the initiatives of large, developed brands providing for people in developing countries. Since 1998, $440 million has gone to farmers, workers, and fisherman through fair trade. Thousands of fair-trade products contribute to the growth of businesses that can propel the whole world forward.

Fair trade isn't just limited to beauty products. Its benefits reach industries ranging from clothing to food, to home goods and basically anything that can be made, sold and purchased. Which well-known businesses participate in fair trade initiatives? Some of the biggest names include Patagonia, Kashi, Athleta, Larabar and West Elm. Check out Fair Trade Certified to find a more comprehensive list of companies from which you can purchase fair-trade-certified products.

So, next time you need a new sweatshirt, a box of granola bars, some new face moisturizer or even a dresser for your apartment, look to see which companies produce and sell these items. Help equalize opportunity around the world. Help fight poverty and third-world conditions. We can all make the world a better place and we can only hope other companies will catch on, too.

Cover Image Credit: Sundial Brands

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam


Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

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The Importance Of Social Media Activism

The power of social media as an activism tool is constantly underestimated, but you can bring change with a single retweet.


Anymore, it seems like almost everything revolves around social media. We get our news through Facebook and Twitter, we keep up with friends and family through Instagram, etc. So it only makes sense that we'd shift political activism to social media eventually as well.

A lot of people underestimate the power of using social media as a tool to garner support for a cause or using it as a platform for activism. For example, I've heard people say that retweeting something about families being separated at the border won't make a difference.

I disagree.

I'm on Twitter a lot, probably more than the average person. It's where I keep up with what's happening in the world. I can get second-by-second updates through Twitter and for me, it's where I see things first. A lot of my friends use Twitter a lot as well. So I retweet something political or something about an issue I support, not only is it letting people know what I believe in, but it also helps educate other social media users.

If you share the link of an article and someone decides to read it because you shared it, you've made that person more educated about an important cause. Social media is an amazing tool for spreading the word and helping others express their points of view.

People claim that celebrities who use their social media accounts for activism purposes are just looking for attention or taking the easy way out. Somehow it's assumed that posting on social media about a cause isn't enough, or that celebrities aren't qualified to post about their political opinions.

Sophia Bush, for example, an actress most known for starring in "One Tree Hill", uses her Twitter and Instagram accounts to advocate for different issues. She posts in support of gun control, immigration, women's rights, and education. A lot of what I've learned personally about these issues have come from articles she's posted about or links she's shared.

I've seen first hand the thousands of comments Bush gets on her Instagram posts that say things like "Stick to acting" or "What do you know about politics?", but she sticks to her guns and doesn't stop posting content related to politics. She's passionate about educating people and her social media platform is the way she can do it best.

Activism is so important in today's cutthroat political world. And social media makes it so much easier for your voice and your opinions to be heard. Young social media users are being shaped by what they see through the screen of their phone. Their minds are being molded by the information given to them through social media.

Your one tweet/retweet about a cause you support DOES make a difference. If just one person learns a little more about the world because you posted about it, you've made a difference.

Social media has the potential to bring so many changes.

It has the power to get officials elected, to raise money for important causes, and to broaden the horizons of the next generation. If we let it. Posting about social issues or organizations you support is just as effective as physically attending a rally or donating money. It may not seem like it, but change still happens whether you're spreading the word online or shouting it in the streets.

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