Today, thousands of people locked in prisons and jails, and other millions subjected to direct supervision of the criminal justice system. Compare and contrast forms of slavery of human slavery depicted from the movie SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME and the forms of slavery witnessed today. What are the similarities and differences in the two forms of oppression that can be depicted from these two cases?
Questions/Main Ideas Explanation
Racism is a baseless belief or perception individuals from certain populations possess certain characteristics that make them superior or inferior. An act or behavior of racism does not have to be overt like intentionally mistreating someone based on their racial/ethnic background, rather it can also be covert particularly certain people or groups are systematically segregated. Racism is widespread in the movie SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME and can be seen in practices such as forced, unpaid labor, discriminatory arrest, prosecution and mistreatment of African slaves.
Where did the convicts offer their force, unpaid labor? Courthouses and jails leased male convicts to commercial enterprises where they worked on plantations, lumber camps, and factories, as well as railroads.
What is forced labor Forced labor involves any work or service that an individual renders against his or her will, and often under the threat of some form of punishment.
How were Blacks forced into forced labor? Throughout the whole period the movie covers, thousands of Blacks were systematically coerced to offer cheap labor against their will. The techniques of forced labor took on different forms, including peonage, convict leasing, sharecropping, and chain gangs.
What was the purpose of contract leasing? In order to cut prison construction costs and earn money, Southern the South leased convicts to local farmers and planters. These southern states learned that they could lease out their convicts to commercial enterprises who would compensate them with minimal possible wages and take care of their housing and feeding. As a result, they could reduce costs incurred on the convicts and at the same time earn some income.
As seen in this movie, it was illegal to wander from place to place without visible means of identification in the colonial America made it a crime. The vagrancy laws made homeless and jobless illegal. Southern states relied on these regulations to arrest, prosecute, and mistreat homeless African Americans who were suspected to engage in criminal activity or even perceived undesirable.
Peonage/debt slavery/debt servitude
A system where slave employers (planters and factory owners) forced their employees (slaves) to pay off a debt with work. In the majority of the cases, blacks are found guilty of real or fabricated offences and were often fined not only for the crime, but additional court fees as well. In the event the convicts were unable to settle these penalties, a local businessman would come for his rescue by settling the fines. In exchange, the convict would be forced to sign a contract agreeing to offer free labor until the debt was cancelled. This method of forced labor can be equated to debt bondage a modern form of slavery reported in different types of human trafficking (sex, child, etc).
Chain gangs emerged as an alternative approach to the challenge of inherent costs and difficulty of housing convicts. Chain gangs are groups of convicts who are forced to offer labor in development activities, such as building roads, digging ditches, or working on plantations while chained together. Their services contribute to the development and improvement of local the infrastructure that facilitated the transportation of farm products and factory products from rural areas to the market. Although chain gangs lowered the cost of guarding convicts, this practice exposed them to severe health problems, deprived them happiness and liberty, and often claimed their lives.
How does this movie relate to today's life.
The movie illuminates how slavery did not end with the Civil War. On the contrary, the insights generated from this work can support the argument that slavery and forced labor have evolved and are more perverse today. The work shows the inhumane ways the states and counties in the South utilized techniques to coerce people of color into forced, unpaid labor, as a consequent reinforcing the institutions of racism and white privilege. In my own experience, I meet very poor people who cannot afford a decent life, have limited access to better health care and education. I meet hopeless and helpless children of color on the streets. I see news and analyses of innocent African American gunned downed by police. I witnesses members of this community being stopped, interrogated, arrested, mistreated, and incarcerated at higher rates compared to others. Through the lens of this movie, it becomes apparent that our history is partly to blame for these social injustices directed to people simply because of their race/ethnicity.
Throughout this movie, I have been exposed to the different forms that racism in the colonial America took on, such as peonage, convict leasing, sharecropping, and chain gangs. By adopting a historical perspective, the movie offers valuable insights and presents different perspectives on the problem of race relations in the United States. Through the developments in the movies, I traces the roots of racial discrimination and how this institution has evolved through decades. In fact, I have come to understand that the greater length that we do interact and relate with people from other racial/ethnic communities has been influenced by the past. Although the forms of racial mistreatments that are seen in this movie are much gross, it is apparent that racism has simply evolved into new forms and can still be seen in the way we relate with others. Covering a period during which blacks were subject to serious segregation, the movie offers greater historical insights that can help understand the history of America.
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