Slavery By Another Name


I just finished this book. It’s amazing. One of the first books to open my eyes to the reality of our system of “corrections” was The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Other books like Taken Into Custody by Stephen Baskerville, exposed the reality of the “family” court system and the connections between family breakup and yes, incarceration of people who are better served outside of the prison system. Now this book.

I must say, as far as the descendants of African slaves have come, not much has changed. It’s sad but true. I feel the same thing that happened at the turn of the last century is happening all over again. I’m reading Ta-Neheshi Coates article in The Atlantic now. Again, more of the same story. It is pretty apparent to me that the election of a president with a direct ethnic link to the continent of Africa has not made things better for our nation – at least as far as healing the wounds of the slave trade and its subsequent history of legal discrimination. America has such a deep rooted sense of hatred for ex-slaves and their descendants. White supremacy is so embedded in our culture that I don’t know how we will ever heal.

As long as there are people who make a profit from ethnic division and perpetuating the ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority, there will always be a class of people who will be fighting others with a 60 year head start.

In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—when a cynical new form of slavery was resurrected from the ashes of the Civil War and re-imposed on hundreds of thousands of African-Americans until the dawn of World War II.

Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies which discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.

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