In the U.S., a nation built on the enslavement and exploitation of humans, the system of slavery cannot be destroyed. It has merely changed from one form to another.
In 1850, anyone, even descendants of enslaved people, could shell out $600 and legally own a human being. When I say legal, I mean supported by the state with force. If someone steals your human chattel, you can file charges and the slave catcher police will hunt down the thief and return your so-called property all on the taxpayer’s dime. Unless they were given it, or somehow bought their freedom, people were considered to be enslaved for life. You would be born into slavery, your kids would be property under your alleged owner, and so on to their children in perpetuity.
When the civil war forced a switch to the state taking over the enslavement of human beings the evolution of slavery created some distinct differences in the conditions of bondage.
First, you were no longer born into slavery. Instead, you had to be criminalized, and then captured and convicted where you became state property until you weren't. Also, your children aren't doomed to be human chattel. But the conditions are certainly ripe for them to be captured and owned by the state. So much so, that almost everyone knows these days 1 in 3 Black men are expected to spend time in prisons or jails.
For slavers that is a guaranteed income. They start counting how many beds they'll need for prison construction based on testing done in grammar schools. Again, everyone has heard the phrase “school to prison pipeline.” It's not just a phrase, it's a fact. It exists. From the time of Jim Crow laws, to that of ghettos and redlining, to the introduction of crack cocaine into the country by the Reagan administration, and on through the new jack city sardine cans called “projects.” Manufactured environments of forced poverty and community corralling KEEP the conditions for enslavement by the state ripe at all times.
In New York there are communities where so much revenue in arrests, bail, and incarceration is generated, that despite the abject poverty, they are known as million-dollar blocks. If you live in these areas surrounded by human hunters, the odds are you're going to be caught up in it, and then caught up by them.
In many states like Wisconsin you'll find most of the inmates come from a small percentage of communities. Researchers found that more than half of African American men in their thirties have served time in a Wisconsin prison, more than 1 in 2. According to Project Milwaukee: Black Men in Prison, "In the 2010 Census, Wisconsin had the highest percentage of incarcerated black men in the nation. One out of every eight black men of working age is behind bars. In Milwaukee County, more than half of African American men in their thirties have served time in prison."
Let me point out that Wisconsin's population is also 83% white and only 6% black.
So no. You're no longer born into slavery. But you may be born on a human farm where manthiefs tread, butchers work, and judas goats lead.
Once you've been convicted, under the 13th Amendment, you are now state property. Sometimes they don't even wait for a conviction. Once you've been caught up the odds change drastically. It's a system and those who profit from it know exactly how the percentages work. In school you're more likely to be targeted and punished with expulsions based on race or geographics alone. Following Newton's laws of motion, immediately your incarceration lottery odds increase. Throughout your life, events like this pile up until the mathematically inevitable happens. You are owned and operated. Your number gets picked in the slavery lottery.
That first incarceration amps up social expectancies for the rest of your life. Once leaving state and federal prisons, the recidivism odds increase that you'll become a reusable resource. "76.6% of prisoners are re-arrested within five years." More than 3/4 are coming right back to the plantation. Like manufactured poverty, the reasons for recidivism rates are due to the stigmas and collateral consequences placed on the formerly incarcerated by the state. Another masterfully maintained self-perpetuating system. Put a fish in water and it will swim.
We live in a world where Facebook has publicly claimed an ability to read minds based on algorithms. Corporations are sending you ads to products you briefly spoke about in private conversations. Police use predictive policing based on patterns and programs installed by the racially biased. Everything is about patterns and percentages, which means none of this is either unknown or by mistake. It's expected and cultivated.
How did Hillary Clinton say it back when she and Biden were calling Black children super predators in racial jungles who needed to be brought to heel? When they were making it rain billions for slavers with the omnibus bill?
They know and now hopefully so do you. Protect your babies. The new slavery isn't about having slaves for life. It's about the state filling prison beds and jail cells. The faces can change all day as long as the beds stay filled. Once you go in, like a roach motel, you may never come out again.
Max Parthas is National Campaign Coordinator and Founding Member of the Abolish Slavery National Network.