In society today, many people, including myself, live in their own bubble, unaware of what is metaphorically outside of their own little world. This becomes a problem when issues in the past still exist. Personally, I am guilty of not paying close attention to topics that does not have an impact on daily life or future life. In other words I like to stay in my own bubble. However, after reading the The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and researching many modern day slave stories, I realized that slavery still exists TODAY. In addition, there still subsists the unfair treatment to the LGBT communities, which I happen to be aware of because I have seen it in my community. Not only does slavery and discrimination exist today, but society obviously finds something about it to be appealing. While discussing The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Mr. Theriault stated that, “Most of us crave authority.” It is in this statement, where most injustice is founded. Furthermore, there is often no valid explanation or justification as to why slavery or discrimination is the “right” thing to do. So I ask myself,
How does justice exist in any inequitable situation? How do people influence the idea of “justice prevailing?
Religion, whether it be the Bible or simply the following of your preacher, is often used to justify not only slavery but other discriminatory acts. Like many pieces of literature, the Bible is open to many different perspectives with many different interpretations. An account from Frederick Douglass specifies his slaveholder using “the religion of the south [as] a mere covering for the most horrid crimes [slavery].” By no means is religion the end all be all justifier of this situation. In fact, it is and was the most widely used “excuse.” Frederick Douglass, who learned how to read and write during his years of enslavement, writes quite exquisitely and in doing so allows him to understand his reality. The slaveholders of Frederick’s time craved authority. They did whatever it took to show their ruthlessness and get a bad reputation to create and inferior atmosphere. This atmosphere included whippings, even when most undeserved, and even in some extreme cases, death. However, to slaves, who a majority of them happened to be illiterate, it was all “okay” because the plantation owner justified it by using a scripture from the Bible; “He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.”
Did the slaveholders use slavery as a way to assert dominance? And can society function without authority?
There are two types of people in the world, the leaders and the followers, all trying to make their own mark on the world whether it being big or small. In my opinion, society can’t function without an authoritative figure. For instance, a parent, teacher, principal, boss, or even a president. There always needs to be a person to keep the higher off in check.
However, what happens when they get out of line?
When we think of slavery, we think of it as a problem of the past, something we study in history class, and we often look down upon, as we should. Nevertheless, when and if we think of slavery it is often linked to sex trafficking. We think it only happens in the “less fortunate” countries. However, we are WRONG. In fact, all different types of slavery still exist in communities that are not too far away from where you are. For example, Flor Molina became a slave in the garment industry, working to help support her family back home. After being mistreated Flor, thought of going to the police. However, a threat from her slaveholder stopped that. In this case no check could be kept on her slaveholder, thus the abuse of power.
When justice prevails, it can be for the right reasons, however there are some instances of which are for the wrong reasons. There is often the one side to an argument, the one of which people just seem to believe without hearing the other side. In a leadership role, whether it be as extreme as a president to as common as a parent the question “Why?” can be seen as a threat. From a parent it is almost always followed with a “because I said so” response. We are afraid of the unknown, which is why we chose to justify with what is given to us. Therefore, this is why I believe that justice exists in inequitable situations.
The abuse of power is a common theme throughout history. It is often why people study history, to be a part of it, to not repeat the mistakes of the past. So how can slavery be stopped? Power is defined by “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” We all have the power to first spread awareness that slavery exists today not only in third world countries but most likely, even a thirty minute drive. “Slavery is an issue that is hidden in the open,” and for that reason it can’t only be one voice speaking for all, everyone must join together and create a movement. Slavery cannot be fixed overnight nor will it be completely fixed in just year. However, if the right measures are taken slavery can be stopped.
It’s crazy how history repeats itself and after the amount of time that slavery has existed one would think that it has stopped. However, at one point in time slavery was justified, mostly by the use of religion. This was also looked at as “the right thing” to do, to believe what is put in front of you because those people had power. Unfortunately, the abuse of power and the craving for authority are two reasons why slavery existed in the past and still exists today. However, we can make a difference and we are already making a difference. One day, with the support of many, slavery will truly be a problem of the past.
This post is dedicated to Flor Molina and to the rest of the victims of modern day slavery.