Making Sense of Modern Slavery in U.S.
A great article on modern slavery in the U.S. came out this week on The Prisma website. Written by Carolina Cositore, the piece sites Free the Slaves (thanks for the shout out!), and refers to the book The Slave Next Door written by FTS President Kevin Bales and historian Ron Soodalter to illustrate the complex social and economic forces that allow slavery to exist—even thrive—in certain sectors of American industry.
A great read! Check it out here:
Whatever date you guess that slavery ended in the United States, you will be wrong.
Uncounted thousands of men, women and children are now enslaved in every state of the Union today, working in construction, in gardens, in orchards, in stores, in homes as domestics and as sex slaves. The number is uncounted because it is difficult to identify all of them.
The US government estimates around 16,000 people are trafficked into the country every single year and a very high number of US citizens (mostly children) are also being held against their will and forced to work.
All told, Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter tell us, in their very provoking book, “The Slave Next Door -Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today,” that a ‘conservative’ estimate is 50,000 slaves, and the number is growing.
Bales is president of DC freetheslaves.net and sociology professor at Rochampton U and Ron Soodalter is a Lincoln scholar and on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute.
Slavery is a dramatic word which numerous groups use to draw attention to their real injustices and misery. While in no way denigrating their suffering, we must remember that true slavery always obviates choice. And this article is about slavery. Whether through lies, threats or actual violence, slaves are held against their will and forced to work for nothing or very little beyond subsistence. Slaves are made to believe they are without options and cannot leave. And, as throughout history, the slaveholders profit.
When we learn how to look, we can identify these slaves in our own neighborhoods – perhaps in the homes of neighbours who are ‘helping’ a woman from another country by providing housing while she does housework and cares for the kids – many slaveholders start out seeking someone to “help and who will help out” whom they don’t have to pay much.
One out of four of all US slaves are enslaved domestics. Let’s be clear, we are definitely not talking Jennifer to here, nor are they starring in The Nanny Express, although such films might be part of the fantasy that lures them to believe the recruiters in their homelands. These women do not have control of their passports or work permits, do not speak English and are often beaten, abused, raped and kept in the most primitive of conditions at subsistence level.