Transcript of Hello, I’m a Mac … and I’ve Got a Dirty Secret:
Hi, I’m a Mac.
And I’m a PC.
PC, what do you have in your pockets?
We notice that PC’s pants pockets are bulging. PC pulls out a couple of rocks in different shades of gray.
Oh, just a couple of pieces of… Let’s see: here’s some tin, and this is called tantalum. Now this is tungsten. I call them 3 T’s. Oh, and here’s some gold. Gotta have gold.
And you know what’s funny? (pulls down a school-style roll-up map of Africa, points with a pointer) A lot of this stuff comes all the way from the Congo. Where it’s been fuelling the deadliest conflict in the world since WWII. Five million killed in the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands women and girls raped. Horrible stuff. I wish you hadn’t asked.
So these are the so-called conflict minerals. Armed militias use violence to control mines and trading routes. And then make hundreds of millions from selling these minerals to electronics companies?
Yeah, that’s about right.
(MAC and PC stand in an uncomfortable silence, but MAC has a smirk of superiority on his face.)
By the way, what’s with your pockets?
Umm, hmm. Just some conflict minerals.
I guess we have some things in common after all…
We want electronics companies to clean up their supply chains. And we, as consumers, can make this happen. Tell them to make their products conflict-free. Go to www.RaiseHopeForCongo.org.
Now there are technophobes out there who would use this issue to call for a boycott against computers, but that would be like using the environmental issue of tree conservation to call for a boycott against books. The lives of people are more important than the lives of trees and non-human animals, of course, but my point is that computers (especially the Internet) are an important medium of human communication. The video, its message, and the spreading of this message are all made possible by computers.
There is a huge power imbalance between people who benefit from conflict minerals and people who suffer violence and death from the extraction of conflict minerals. Also note that this is a form of colonialism, in which people in rich nations are using violence to steal valuable natural resources from poor nations. Many people living in rich nations believe that “Africa” or African countries are poor because they lack natural resources. However, Africa is a continent that is rich with valuable and rare minerals and other natural resources; it’s just that they are being stolen by non-African nations. People living in rich nations are under the illusion that diamonds, gold, and metals for electronics “belong” to rich nations, when the reason why they are so prevalent here is because of colonialism and theft.
Raise Hope for Congo has an Action List on their website, but I’m skeptical of the second action, “If you take conflict out of your cell phone, I will buy it.” Not everyone can afford to “vote with your wallet”, but if you can, please do. The rest of us can raise awareness and try to think of other strategies to stop the violence and redistribute resources more equitably.