Wake Forest University

Coffee film wakes up audience - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Coffee film wakes up audience

Black Gold ScreeningAs the semester draws to a close, coffee purchases across campus skyrocket. Though students, faculty and staff members down mug after mug of the black stuff, few stop to think about the impact of their morning buzz on the world outside the Reynolda Campus. A small group of university community members burst the bubble and gathered for a screening of “Black Gold” in the newly renovated auditorium on the fourth floor of the ZSR Library on November 8.

The film highlighted the inequity inherent in the global coffee trade by juxtaposing scenes from prospering, coffee-hungry cities in the Western world and scenes from impoverished coffee growing areas in southern and western Ethiopia. Coffee prices, determined in London and New York by commodities speculators, have unfathomable consequences for the lives of coffee growers thousands of miles away. When the price is low, poverty and hunger reign. During a period of low prices, unable to make a fair living growing coffee, one farmer explains that he will grow khat (a narcotic plant) to support himself and his family.

As a complement to the film, audience members enjoyed a sampling of fair trade coffee and tea provided by Campus Grounds and a talk from Dr. Jeanne Simonelli, anthropology professor and applied cultural anthropologist. Simonelli provided a brief demonstration, complete with board game money, to help audience members visualize the inequities in the global coffee trade.

Junior Erin Murphy felt much more informed about the global coffee trade after the screening. “It made me think about how much goes into producing just one cup of coffee, a luxury I know I take for granted and drink every day. I had no idea the farmers who produce the coffee got so little for their efforts and that their families and villages were suffering so much from it,” Murphy said.

The movie also had a huge impact on junior De’noia Woods. Although Woods does not drink coffee, she now feels compelled to share insights from the film with her coffee-consuming friends. “I will make sure to educate people who I know drink coffee by the caseload about the negative effects of the coffee trade,” Woods said.

The screening was a partnership between Z. Smith Reynolds Library, the Office of Sustainability and WFU Focus on Fair Trade.

By Jane Connors, Communications and Outreach Intern