“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The pledge of allegiance is a promise of dedication, honor, and liberty to our country, it blatantly states how we as a nation stand as a whole, inseparable. The pledge states that we stand for freedom and justice for all. “For all,” symbolizes everyone, every single person residing in our country. We pledge our allegiance to our country everyday, saying we stand for freedom and justice for all. Most perceive the practice of slavery as a prehistoric institution that occurs in third world countries or overseas in foreign lands. The unforeseeable irony in our lives is the pledge of allegiance we make everyday, the promise to stand for the freedom and justice of our sisters and brothers. If we stand for freedom and allegiance to all, why does slavery still exist within the realms of the land of the free? What are the perpetuating factors of modern-day slavery?
The conundrum of the rising modern-slavery in the United States is a perplexing issue as it is being perpetuated by many factors, above all, power and greed. The desire for power or greed is the biggest reason for the existence of slavery, in the past and today in our modern day world. The desire for more is an existent part of humanity that has resulted in corruption and evil. In this engraving entitled the United States’ slave trade, 1830: A Group of Slaves in Chains a mother and children being sold by a slaveholder, a ship loaded with slaves, slaves getting flogged while working, and the State Capitol’s flag is depicted soaring high in the nearby distance. This image depicts the epitome of the slavery because it represents power, greed, and the inhumane nature of people. Slaves were seen as property or merchandise an owner possessed, therefore the slaves were collateral of his power and wealth. The flag of our nation ins the nearby distance only helps to promote the irony of our country’s promise to protect and enable justice for everyone. The ships in the engraving loaded with slaves arriving to America represents the wealth of the slave trade. People brought more and more slaves from foreign lands to the US merely with the intention to exploit others for their personal benefit. The inhumane actions of slaveowners flogging and beating slaves as if they were animals displays the ultimate cause of all this presumed ‘power’, people felt superior and slaves. This feeling of superiority and the want for power drove the slave trade to this day.
Exploitation of others purely as a result of societal demand is an arising factor that perpetuates modern-day slavery as well. The reason that slavery exists is simply supply and demand. One of the basic fundamental concepts of economics, it’s the reason that economies are sustained. Alike to the concept in economics, modern-day slavery has become a worldwide phenomenon. According to Human Events, “Unicef values the global market of child trafficking over $12 billion a year with over 2.5 million child victims.” Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing markets worldwide and has experience exponential growth in the past years. The practice is based on societal demand as “children have become sexual commodities to be bought and sold for the pleasure of exploiters.” The demand for this market is the reason for its widespread growth and perpetuation, without demand, the market would be detrimentally impacted. “Victims are essentially made to produce or engage in a service against their will so that their “slave owners”can financially benefit from their “work.”The rampant growth of trafficking can only be attributed to its unfortunate growing demand. Undoubtedly, the insidious practice of trafficking will only continue to grow unless it is prevented and regulated. The demand in the market will only go up, as will the widespread continuation of trafficking.
This chart from the Economist displays the types of modern slavery currently occurring in the world today and the amount of profit. It clearly shows the societal demand for slavery, one of the biggest reasons contributing to its perpetuation.
With a lack of opportunity and no alternatives, many people are forced to resort to any means of survival, in this case, slavery was the only option present. Cornered, trapped , and desperate; slavery was an option that many had to endure and face due to their current situation or status. The slave trade was built on a foundation of false promise as many were promised fair treatment, in return, they were thrust into the everlasting life of slavery. Many African Americans in the past were discriminated against, this presented little or no options in America. Many resorted to means of slavery in an effort the survive. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , Douglass describes of the holidays, specifically Christmas, as a time of ‘celebration’ due to their limited lifestyle. Slaves were encouraged to party and get drunk during the holidays, having fun and drinking on their own accord was a norm. Slave owners presented this opportunity to slaves in an effort to sustain resurgence, it presented itself as a silver lining in the eyes of the slaves. The slaves already felt helpless and trapped in their situations, so this moment of joy justified their current condition. It helped them to forget how slavery was their only option, how they were entrapped in this life of bondage. With limited options present to people, slavery was the only reasonable option, this is why holidays like Christmas were revered highly by the slaves.
Many refuse to believe the gravity of the situation and choose to turn a blind eye to the slavery occurring today in our modern world, it is crucial to stay united and stand up against the inhumane treatment.
This situation also reigns true in today’s modern world of trafficking, as seen in Ima Matul’s story: I was a modern-day slave in America. Matul describes her past experience of slavery and how it was an option that had been presented to her. She had been residing and working as a housekeeper in her home country, Indonesia, when she was presented the opportunity to work in Los Angeles. Ecstatic, Matul gladly accepted the opportunity to move to the US and receive higher pay. Unfortunately, her high hopes were quickly decimated as she began to spiral into the harsh slave like life of labor. Her employers had confiscated her passport and forced her to work seven days a week, with little or no pay. Unable to communicate to others her desperate situation and with fear of being thrown into jail if she ran away, Matul was enslaved as a domestic laborer for years. She had originally chosen to come to the US and work, thinking it was her best opportunity, the alternative being stuck in Indonesia. Unknown to her that she was essentially willingly entering a life of slavery. Due to the option of working and getting a roof over her head or living on the streets, Matul was left with no option. Threatened, beat, and abused for years, she endured life before finally escaping the deadly clutches of slavery. After escaping she said:
“I got $85 for eight hours of work. I was so happy,” “It was the first time I got paid.”
This statement from Matul exhibits the injustice of this inhumane social evil committed to individuals like her. These individuals only desire to live a normal life, to be happy, to work and merely earn for their efforts.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are held as modern-day slaves in America. Many are forced laborers working as housekeepers, dishwashers, or in door-to-door sales. Ima Matul, above, was one of them.” – CNN
Her situation is a modern day example of the reason for the perpetuation of slavery as a whole, she had no option of escape and was a victim of the societal demand of domestic workers.
The perpetuation of slavery is a complicated issue as it is funded by a multitude of reasons: the need for power, societal demand, and a lack of alternative to the individuals. It is a shocking reality to view the hypocrisy of the entire situation as a whole, seeing how humanity has used this social evil to progress and better itself. The irony of the entire situation is only perpetuated on the daily in our daily pledge of allegiance to swear justice for all. How can we pledge to fight for justice when we allow the practice of slavery to perpetuate?