Harry Potter fans are among the most dedicated in all of fandom, so it comes as no surprise that they would want to emulate the boy hero whenever possible. One fan, Andrew Slack, founded the Harry Potter Alliance in 2005, in part, to promote the values demonstrated by J.K. Rowling and by the justice-seeking character she created.
Slack, who was reportedly inspired by Rowling’s own experiences with poverty and her work with Amnesty International, sought a way for the Harry Potter Alliance to contribute to the greater good. After Slack met labor advocate Lisa Valdez and learned about child labor abuses, he hit upon the idea of pitting the energy of Potter fans against unfair labor practices of cocoa producers.
Potter fans spent four years applying pressure to Warner Bros., which owns the rights to the Harry Potter franchise, and its chocolate producers to certify their cocoa sources as 100 percent Fair Trade. The Alliance teamed up with the anti-slavery organization Free 2 Work, which monitored and graded the chocolate supplier for Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Parks & Resorts. The Alliance also worked with anti-slavery group Walk Free, which organized fan petitions and recorded video Howlers, named for the magical angry notes in the Harry Potter books, aimed at pressuring Warner Bros. and its suppliers to go Fair Trade.
TheWashington Post quotes Slack as saying the following.
“‘Harry Potter,’ more and more, is becoming a classic, and one that children are growing up on, with all seven books having been written. It’s part of the culture. It represents righteousness, nobility, love, so much beauty and a place of safety that people go to, and moral authority. If the ‘Harry Potter’ brand were to move something like fair trade, it would be making a statement that not only is the ‘Harry Potter’ brand a cut above the rest but that [other franchises] have to catch up to it.”
Warner Bros. has committed to Fair Trade and anti-slavery practices and thanked The Harry Potter Alliance for its partnership. According to People, Warner Bros. released a statement saying the following.
“By the end of 2015, and sooner when possible, all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets and through our licensed partners will be 100-percent UTZ or Fair Trade certified.”
The Harry Potter Alliance has responded with praise for Warner Bros’. willingness to take on this challenge. Potter fans made their mark on the advocacy world with this victory.
[Image: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter]