America is beautiful when you look at its surface. To the north, there are majestic mountain ranges with snow covered tops. To the south you have warmth from rays of sunshine that tickle your skin. In the east, the vast plains that calmly beatifies itself, and to the west, an open ocean lies ahead with its mysterious unknowns. But once again, this is only a façade.
Uncover the reality. Lift the veil that covers your eyes and see the underground atrocities that take place here in the so-called, “Land of the Free”. There are people who suffer unending physical and mental pain as they are forced to do things against their will in return for nothing. These people are the modern slaves of America.
In the 1800s, slavery was done in broad daylight in America. Today, slavery continues yet many of us have decided to close our eyes and ignore the situation. We, being Americans, boast of our country being the “Land of the Free”, but we are only being hypocrites. There are still people out there in chains. Not physical bonds, but ones that force these people to be tied down to slavery. Threats, verbal abuse, physical force chain the many innocent immigrants to the US each year. As of today, there are about “17,500 foreign nationals and 200,000 American children” being force to lead a life that is never allowed to come in contact with the joys and happiness of being free.
This is happening on the grounds of a country that supposedly liberated, 150 years ago, all of it men, women, and children from the shackles that took away every shred of dignity they were entitled to.
But did you think about the fact that someone, legally or illegally, in America, maybe even about 10-20 miles away from your house is still suffering the same conditions as the African-American slaves of 150 years ago? To be honest, I am not a saint either. I was also blind to this reality as well. But after being forced to read an autobiography by Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, my eyes began to open to reality. Here was a MAN. An African-American man, but a man nonetheless. Yet he was robbed of everything from the moment of his birth. He had no love from his mother. No knowledge of a father. No birthday. Never enough clothes to keep warm or enough food to satiate hunger.
With a curiosity about slavery ignited by a teacher, and a few google searches later, it was soon reveal to me that modern slavery is real. I’m sure that when I was younger, my mom and dad had warned me about getting lost, kidnapped, and sold to some other place in the world where they would never be able to find me, hinting on child labor and sex trafficking, but the idea modern day slavery was always swept to the very back of my mind where things that are categorized as “not important” go in my head.
While online, I found the story of Ima Matual on CNN Money. Her story stood out to me because she was an immigrant from Indonesia who became victim of domestic slavery in Los Angeles, California. Not too far from where I live. She was treated like an object used to keep the house of her “employers” clean. She was denied wages, and even suffered from physical abuse.
But it was not the abuse she underwent as a domestic slave, but the events that took place at the end of her enslavement that intrigued me most. Matul tells CNN that after she was rescued,
“Her captors were never prosecuted, she said, as the case was too difficult to prove.”(Matul)
I realized that nothing has change to protect these people who have lost years of their lives to slavery because 150 years ago in Douglass’ time, he too witnessed many of his fellow slavery being murdered, but in the same way,
“[The] horrid crime was not even submitted to judicial court.”(Douglass 30)
Many Americans believe that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed all slaves in America, but we have only been blindfolded from the truth. 1863 was only the first step in American history to free all men, but the fight to end slavery is still happening in America, and even around the entire world.
I still wonder,
How could a society turn a blind eye of the enslavement of a person? How could so many people just overlook this modern day crime?
I don’t know the sure answer either. Maybe it’s because the trafficking of humans brings in money, so they choose greed over humanity? Maybe people just want to have nothing to do with it, so they choose to remain quiet rather than being active? Or maybe it’s because the stories are too much for us to cope with, so we choose to have a veil over our eyes instead.
Whatever the reason for ignorance is, it doesn’t matter.
Nothing is worth more than a person’s life. A person’s entitlement to dignity. A person’s right to be free.
I once left the problem of modern day slavery wallowing around in my subconscious, but this year, when I met a fork in the road to choose between continue closing my eyes or opening them, I finally had the courage to look at reality. In the beginning, I felt as if my acknowledgement of the situation would create no change, but I soon realized that small steps such as being more aware of where my clothes and food are coming from could help with the push for a new movement that could be the first step to a better world where all people of any race, religion, or background will feel safe and united.