Slavery in America, How could this be?

I read an article in The Florida Weekly a couple of weeks ago that greatly saddened me. I couldn’t believe that in the United States, twelve migrant farm workers were being chained to a truck at night. These men had to urinate, defecate, vomit, and sleep chained. During the day they had to work in the fields planting and picking much of the produce we eat. Kind of spoils you appetite doesn't it.

It has been over a hundred and fifty years since the thirteenth amendment was added to the Constitution. The thirteenth amendment forbids slavery. It states the following: Section:

  1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section
  2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The law is clear, slavery is forbidden in the United States of America. Even though, we do not own human beings it seems it’s ok to rent them. Migrant camps are an example of the evils acts done in our society for financial gain at the expense of human rights. The Florida Weekly states that the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Migrant Labor had issued the following statement in regards to migrant labor camps: “A migrant camp is a microcosm…of nearly every social ill, every injustice, and everything shameful in our society: poverty almost beyond belief, rampant disease and malnutrition, racism, filth and squalor, pitiful children drained of pride and hope, exploitation and powerlessness and the inability and unwillingness of public and private institutions at all levels to erase this terrible blight on our country.”

These men and women also include American citizens as well as international migrants. Is this how those who put the fruits and vegetables on our table are to be treated by our nation? Are we going to go down in history as the nation that not only enslaved the blacks, over a hundred years ago, but will also enslaved others unjustly as well? There are still repercussions, even today, that are results of what was happened almost two centuries ago. Do we want to be guilty of injustices done to members of other minorities as well?

There are things we can do to lessen these injustices. First of all, make others aware that these things are taking place, and that we don’t live in a cotton candy world. We must stop turning a blind eye and we must not condone this. Being poor, should never put anyone in the danger of becoming unfairly enslaved. Check to see if the produce you buy is grown with by reputable growers. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell who a reputable grower and who isn’t.

I feel for these people and hope that some real solutions can be found. Laws don’t always protect everyone. I wish I could suggest some course of action, unfortunately there are no easy answers, but I do think awareness is a first step in trying to solve this problem. That is why I wrote this article.

More by this Author


Comments 7 comments

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan

Nothing surprises me anymore.


Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago

Good topic, but after having done a little digging, and with my personal background, hard to know what is true. Here in California, illegals would camp in and around fields, inside cardboard house or just dig out little caves in the side of a dried up river bank, leaving trash, sh... and other discarded items. Here the property owner would be charged to clean up or face fines. I have seen more than one labor camp, which started out nice and clean end up dirty, toilet overfilled with sh...., doors kicked in, holes in the walls, which was done by the occupants, then they would leave. The owners were told to fix it, and pay out of their pockets. They could not charge the ones that tore it up. So the owner said no, he would take it back down to the ground and make it a field. The Great state of California said no, he either would fix it, or the state would and then place a lean on his property for the cost, if that didn't work the state would take it over. The owner was forced to continually fix it up. I worked in the fields as a youngster, as did my family when they came to California during the dust bowl. Additionally, in Arizona it is the body smugglers that are holding people captive until they are paid for my family members. There will always be individuals who inslave people, the same as there will always be people who will murder. I do not believe and have never heard of people being brought to this country by americans, then sold in an open market to the highest bidder, and then forced in to labor. Slavery is not an institution as it was before in this country. It is now the act of a few sick individuals, such as the Immokalee man (hispanic) that was holding a guatamalen girl as a slave.

Our duty is to treat people as we would want to be treated, and if we see anyone being mistreated it is our obligation to say something and take immediate action to stop it.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you for your comments Brie Hoffman and Terry Davis.

Mr.Davis you are right there are two sides to this issue and I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't owners of migrant housing and fields that have had to endure damages and unfair fining. It would be good if there were articles exposing this side of the issue as well. It seems that the abuses against migrant workers seem to take place in Florida, which may mean that Florida laws do not protect migrant worker, on the other hand it would be good if California laws protected the owners as well. Its like you said it is our duty to treat other people the same way we would want to be treated, and as to taking an active role to stop abuse to both owners and migrant workers it is important not to turn a blind eye and to try to address the issue.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

Greetings IW62,

I'm Harlan :)

I have heard/read of slavery in modern America. I read a book years ago by a woman who “claims” she was born and raised as a child sex slave on a large private ranch in California. She didn't know life existed off the ranch, She and the other children only knew what they were told. She wrote in her book that rich people would pay large sums of money to come and have sex with the kids at the ranch. No one knew any different because the kids didn’t legally exist. Sad.

Another point I wanted to make is on a comment you made. Forgive me, I don’t mean any unfriendly contention, but I am not sure I agree with your statement: “We are still greatly indebted to the African Americans for all the injustices that were done to them.”

Why are we? I don’t understand why,

Here is why I am unsure on this.

1. I have never owned a slave, my parents never owned a slave, nor their parents, nor theirs either. That’s over 4 generations that I know and I am sure it goes back another generation at least if not more.

2. I don’t know anyone who is black that was ever a slave, nor their parents, nor their parents, etc., likewise as before.

Thus how long must we who never owned a slave, and certainly do not, nor ever would, pay for something we had nothing to do with… and pay it to people who never experienced the offence?

And my final point is that of the Barbary Pirates. These men were black, African sailors who from the 1100’s or so through the late 1800’s raided the coastal villages of various white races, i.e., English, Dutch, Norwegian, Irish, Scottish etc., raped and murdered whom they pleased and loaded up the rest into the ship and sailed them back to Africa to sell them into slavery. During the 1700’s these black slave traders raided their own African villages and brought their own people to the British Colonies and sold them into slavery; black men, selling black men to the British.

A good book to read is Captain Riley’s Narrative (which I have read), or a more modern version based on the same is, Sands of the Zarhara, (which I have not read yet). American ship Captain Riley and crew were taken captive in the 1840’s and sold into slavery in Africa. When his slave owner found out Riley and his crew was worth a lot of ransom money, he took them to Morocco to the American Consulate and collected the ransom. Captain Riley then wrote a narrative on it which for the era was much like a national best seller today. It was this very book that moved President Lincoln and the congress to abolish slavery in America. (Why this is not taught in American history classes is beyond me.)

The African’s engaged in rape, murder and slavery toward anyone and everyone they could get their hands on for over 800 years. In some parts of Africa it is still going on in the diamond mines. America abolished the practice over 160 years ago, before the nation was 100 years old; it took us that long just to get a handle on our new country and self governance. It has been abolished almost twice as long as it existed (under the American flag).

How long must we be enslaved with guilt and debt? As long as America is enslaved upon ideological eggshells of guilt and debt to blacks for the sins of our great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather’s, whites and blacks will be at odds, because we will never consider ourselves truly equal to one another. Sorry this is so long, and I don’t mean to be at odds here. My heart on this is open, kindly, honest and without malice. I believe for the races to be ideologically (not just legally) equal to one another, we have to forgive and forget the past and move forward as one people standing together for the future. I do not see why I owe anyone, anything, for something I had nothing to do with.

Thanks for letting put in my two cents. Great hub!

- Harlan


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you for your comments Harlan, and I apologize for being too broad in my statement, on owing the African American Community, I don't believe everyone is indebted to them. Even before the Civil War there caring people that did not agree with the ownership of slaves. I know that the war itself was fought to free these men and women. I agree with you that society on the whole is not indebted to the African American Community, on account of the sins of those, who owned slaves in the South. I do appreciate the information you shared with me, I do agree that the slave trade was also the fault of Africans themselves who sold these men and women to the states. I wish we could live in a more just society. I appreciate your research on the subject and I appreciate your comments, and your honesty.


john smith 4 years ago

i noticed a spelling error in the first paragraph, you should fix that it's the sign of an unreliable site.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 4 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks I wish you would have pointed the word out. I'll look for it.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working