Slavery, Racism, and Ostriches

If someone asked you, “Does slavery, not symbolic but real down-to-earth, dehumanizing slavery, exist in the United States?” what would your answer be? Most likely you would gasp, “Of course not!” You would be wrong. It exists. In a post focused not so much on slavery but on the open door that feeds it, Michelle Malkin noted in her article The Nation of the Open Door that in Senate committee testimony this week

The trafficking of human beings constitutes a “growth industry” in the United States, with more than 15,000 people forced into bondage each year as sex slaves or captive laborers, according to testimony before a Senate panel Wednesday.

While there are those who dispute these numbers are as large as some claim (see the Salon articles by Jack Shafer) they do not dispute the practice exists.

My response to Malkin’s article was where is the civil rights community in this, especially the Black civil rights leadership? Why are organizations that were set up to deal with the despicable results of American slavery not interested, indeed not making a priority of dealing with real slavery in the United States today?

I may be wrong, but my gut feeling is that its a “me and mine” mentality. Instead, isn’t it time for the Black leadership to expand beyond parochial only thinking to a “thank you platform”? Since so many people and groups outside the Black community helped them gain their freedom and rights over the last 50 years shouldn’t they now be the first to reach out and help those outside their community who are in real bondage today? There is an old maxim about helping others you also help yourself.

I remember being at a college forum in the 70’s with Parren Mitchell (U.S. Representative from Maryland, 1971-87). I asked Rep. Mitchell what he thought about the needs of other minorities in the U.S. and how they meshed with his concerns. Being a Vietnam veteran who also lost a brother in the war (Alan James Meisheid, Panel 44 West), I was specifically interested in the Southeast Asians who were beginning to come into the U.S. due to the Vietnam situation. Mitchell’s reply, to my surprise, was “They are not minorities.” He refused any further questions on the matter and said he would only address Black grievances. It appears not much has changed. Shouldn’t the existence of real slaves in 21st century United States be of utmost priority to those who have struggled to get out from under its effects? Isn’t one form of racism not being about to see beyond your own race? Just asking…

Update: Michelle Malkin posted a link for me to her source for the slavery story (The Arizona Republic)