Saturday, February 15, 2014

Approaching Slavery by Another Name

Tuesday February 18 is our discussion of Slavery by Another Name. This is a difficult book to get through: dense with detail, but also extremely sad.  If you're feeling overwhelmed, here are some suggestions:

Read the introduction, Chapter 2, "Industrial Slavery"; Chapter 7' "The Indictments"; Chapter 14 "Anatomy of a Slave Mine"; and the Epilogue. That will give you a feel for the book and plenty to discuss, in only about 60 pages.

Check out the video interviews Blackmon gave to Eric Holder, Gwen Ifill, Bill Moyers, and Tavis Smiley.

Some questions to consdier: Blackmon maintains that industrial slavey was worse than traditional plantation slavery in part because of the loss of family connections between master and slaves. Would you agree?

For those of you who read The New Jim Crow, how does the prison system of today described by Michelle Alexander compare to that of the late 19th and early 20th?

The question of prison labor remains controversial. Federal prison labor is a $900 million industry, and companies such as Walmart rely on it for cheap labor. And that's just federal. Private prisons run by for-profit companies are responsible for approximately 6% of state prisoners, 16% of federal prisoners, and, according to one report, nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government. In 2010, the two largest private prison companies alone received nearly $3 billion dollars in revenue. (See the ACLU report, Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration.)

In the Epilogue, Blackmon suggests that companies such as Wachovia, and U.S. Steel that profited from slave labor, or that acquired or were merged with such companies, should be held accountable for damages. Do you think this is feasible? What would be a fair way to award damages?

Looking forward to seeing everyone this coming Tuesday. February 18th at 7:00 in the Small Meeting room of the main Evanston Public Library!

1 comment:

  1. I saw this post and just wanted to share a post that I did for the Ernest J. Gaines Center's blog. The post talks about the history of bonding out labor in the works of Gaines.