Bridgestone/Firestone -accused of slavery- buys big on SuperBowl
UPDATE: Ahhh. I was so glad I had shared this with my church on Sunday morning before the game. The ad I saw was beautiful, even better than I’d expected (after all, how high are one’s expectations of car ads?). Watching it, I was satisfied to know that a few more people found it a reminder that those tires have run over a whole lot of very poor people.
Truth works slowly, but it still sets people free.
Want to help change the world during the Super Bowl? Tell your friends about Bridgestone-Firestone.B-F is spending about $10 million to up their corporate image via ads during the game. They’ll be looking good. But B-F has a very dark secret that makes all the snazzy car shots a little sickening: B-F exploits Africans so egregiously, it’s been accused of slavery. Consider these excerpts from Foreign Policy in Focus:
Liberia is rich in natural resources and Africa’s largest producer of natural rubber. It is also one of the world’s poorest countries. Liberia’s impoverishment is directly related to the wealth … that because of a history of inequality and exploitation benefits multinational corporations and some wealthy Liberians at the expense of the citizens of Liberia. […] Firestone Natural Rubber Company … has experienced increased international scrutiny for exploiting the people and natural environment of Liberia since … the publishing of a groundbreaking report … entitled “Firestone: The Mark Of Slavery.” […]
Bridgestone/Firestone North American has become the largest tire and rubber company in the world … Firestone’s rubber plantation occupies a large percentage of Liberia’s land mass and was, as a result, for a time responsible for more than half the tax revenue in the country. […]
Firestone’s officially 14,000-person Liberian workforce is comprised mostly (approximately 70%) of rubber tappers … Tappers and their children are held in virtual bondage, isolated from the world on a million—acre plantation and dependent on Firestone for everything from wages to lodging to food and medicine, all of which are desperately inadequate. … housing has not been renovated since its construction in 1926. Most of the houses do not include running water or indoor toilets.
In order to meet the daily quota of approximately 650 trees … it would take [each tapper] almost three full days to complete one day’s quota. As Bridgestone/Firestone North American management does not enforce its child labor policy but does enforce its quotas, parents often bring their children to work in order to meet the daily quotas and garner a barely livable wage. Instead of attending school, these children often work for 10 to 12 hours a day without proper diets and must carry heavy buckets of rubber latex treated with toxic pesticides. […]
The river around the rubber plantation is polluted with the effluence from the factory that spews out chemicals 24-hours a day, seven days a week. […] The company’s human rights and environmental abuses are related to the problem of corporate-led globalization which privileges profits for few over the lives of many.
What if the very ads they paid $10M to show became reminders to the 90 million Super Bowl fans of B-F’s inhuman greed? Maybe it’ll come up where you are. Maybe someone will think of something to do. At the very least, B-F won’t get away with the ruse.
Go get ’em.
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