Clothing workers in Bangladesh

Can international trade ever be anti-racist?

By Charlotte Timson, Traidcraft Exchange

A confession: for years, I’ve felt uncomfortable working in international development. When I lived in Malawi, I first witnessed how International NGOs could often dominate civil society, pushing out the voices of local organisations and communities and capturing large proportions of project budgets for themselves. I couldn’t articulate clearly back then that racism was part of the problem. It seems so obvious now. It was also the reason I moved into the trade justice movement. Traidcraft Exchange’s roots in justice, and its focus on trade and systems change, rather than aid, resonated strongly with my core values. But in recent months, with Black Lives Matter exposing the issues of racism so starkly and causing all of us to reflect on who we are and what we’re doing, I’ve realized trade – and the work that we do --isn’t immune to the issues of racism and neo-colonialism either. Far from it....