Report estimates over 400,000 slaves currently live in the US

Based on their 2018 Global Slavery Index, the Walk Free Foundation estimates there are about 403,000 humans living in the United States under conditions that meet the definition of slavery. Read the rest

"But slavery was so long ago"

Originally commissioned as a wrist tattoo, the simple and powerful chart showing how recent black freedom is in America is now also a t-shirt.

"...but slavery was sooo long ago."

We've heard this quote over and over throughout the course of modern American history. In an attempt to urge black people to "move on" and to recognize just how good they have it in America, this dismissive and tone deaf statement attempts to transform relatively recent history into ancient history or myth.

However, when looking at this graphic, it is very clear that American slavery and segregation was not so long ago. In fact, it is very possible to have conversations with many African Americans who have vivid memories of Jim Crow South and the racist and subversive practices in the North.

I like this black and white version:

Read the rest

How to investigate and report on modern slavery

Thalia Holmes summarizes the "Exposing Human Trafficking and Forced Labor" panel at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, where veteran reporters who've broken major modern slavery stories discussed their methods and offered advice for others pursuing similar stories. Read the rest

April Ryan asks Sarah Huckabee-Sanders if the White House thinks slavery is wrong

Huckabee-Sanders smirks and walks off after being repeatedly asked if "this administration thinks slavery is wrong?" by journalist April Ryan.

In support of White House Chief of Staff Kelly's repetition of erroneous racist talking points about the American Civil War, the White House has said it is "disgraceful" to question Kelly's comments.

I hope April Ryan, and every other journalist not sent to that room by Rupert Murdoch, keeps asking. Read the rest

Haribo: sweetened with forced labor and abused animals

In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery." Read the rest

Listen: Voice recordings of black slaves

This video of the January 12, 1999 broadcast of Nightline is really quite remarkable. It shares clips of voice recordings made in the mid-twentieth century of black people born into U.S. slavery.

That's right, it features the voices of real (former) slaves.

To get these interviews, folklorists traveled the South in the 1930s and 1940s carrying around 200 lb. "portable" 78 RPM disc recorders.

The technology to clean up and digitize the scratchy memory-filled discs only became available in the 1990s.

Now the vivid real-life stories of these men and women who lived as slaves are available online through the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center. They truly give a sobering look at life in the United States before abolition:

The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond. All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation. Some are being made publicly available for the first time and several others already available now include complete transcriptions.

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West African migrants are kidnapped and sold in Libyan slave markets

The UN's International Organization for Migration says that human traffickers paid to smuggle migrants out of sub-Saharan Africa are selling their "clients" to slavers in Libya, who ransom them to their families, starving them and working them to death while they wait for the money to come in. Read the rest

Amnesty: hackers spent months building personas used to phish Qatari labor activists

In a new report, Amnesty International summarizes the security research they did on the victims of a sophisticated phishing attack aimed at Qatari labor activists, dubbed "Operation Kingphish." Read the rest

Yale's college will no longer bear the name of a slaver, from now on, it's "Grace Murray Hopper" college

Yale's Calhoun College was named for the South Carolina politician John C Calhoun, a Yale alum and notorious enslaver and advocate of slavery; this was, understandably, controversial. Read the rest

Kindred: a powerful graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's slavery masterpiece

Octavia Butler is a name to conjure with: the first African-American woman to rise to prominence in science fiction, Butler's fiction inspired generations of writers by mixing rousing adventure stories with nuanced, razor-sharp parables about race and gender in America; she was the first science fiction writer to be awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, and her sudden and untimely death left a hole in the hearts of her readers, proteges and admirers.

This simple timeline puts the long, long history of slavery in perspective

The Twitter account @gloed_up shared this historical meme:

Read the rest

Week two for the largest prison strike in US history

As many as 20,000 US prisoners are going into their second week on strike against forced labor and inhumane prison conditions, though the US prison system has locked down the centers of the strike, denied all conduits for information, and put the leadership into solitary confinement. Read the rest

Tomorrow: largest prison strike in US history

America imprisons more people than any other country in history, in both absolute and relative terms. American prisoners -- disproportionately racialized and poor people -- are held in inhumane conditions that include long periods of solitary confinement, in violation of international protocols against torture. Read the rest

Bill O'Reilly: Slaves who built White House were "well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government"

In response to Michelle Obama's speech on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, former history teacher Bill O'Reilly told his viewers that the slaves who built the White House were well-fed and had decent lodgings. He didn't mention the other not-so-great parts about being a slave, which include being the property of another person.

O'Reilly said:

Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.

From Think Progress:

Liam Hogan, a historian whose work focuses on slavery, noted on Twitter that O’Reilly’s comments are reminiscent of “how chattel slavery was defended by slave owners and pro-slavery interests.” To cite just one example, a U.S. history primer put together by the Independence Hall Association notes that “defenders of slavery argued that by comparison with the poor of Europe and the workers in the Northern states, that slaves were better cared for. They said that their owners would protect and assist them when they were sick and aged, unlike those who, once fired from their work, were left to fend helplessly for themselves.” The reality, Hogan added, is that slavery were “treated like livestock.”

Read the rest

Before 1988 Olympics, South Korea sent 'vagrants' to camps where rape and murder were routine

In the runup to the 1988 Olympics, the South Korean government ordered Seoul's "vagrants" to be cleared from the street. Thousands of people, many of them small children, were sent to a "welfare facility" called "Brothers Home," where they were subject to vicious, often fatal beatings and routine rape. The order to round up the vagrants came from then-President Park Chung-hee (father of current President Park Geun-hye) whose successor, President Chun Doo-hwan, suppressed any investigation into the atrocities. Read the rest

Qatar's World Cup stadium is being built by modern slaves

Qatar, one of the worst places in the world to be a worker (even the flight attendants experience human rights abuses), was picked to host the 2022 football world cup by the famously corrupt FIFA organization, despite the physical danger to spectators (and athletes!) from the incredible temperatures. Read the rest

Irish slave myths debunked

White supremacists (and vaguely racist uncles on Facebook) occasionally pipe up with the idea that the Irish were, effectively, held as slaves in America. Though often subject to indenture and other forms of brutal labor conditions, the slavery claim is nonsense, writes Liam Hogan.

It's one of those things that half-innocently surfaces in the media over and over again, though, because it looks like a strange fact, invites "curiosity gap" propagation, and offers the bittersweet pleasure of adversity oneupmanship. Particularly interesting are the images used to provide an illusion of truth. Above, a photo of some Texan farm kids commonly described as depicting Irish slaves. Read the rest

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