Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Juneteenth" - Saving American Slavery

Modern slavery exists around the world, particularly in the US (

Today is "Juneteenth" (June 19th) the day commemorating the liberation of American slaves from chattel or wholesale slavery to debt and wage slavery.

When human beings were abducted by the British and sold throughout their colonies -- particularly its biggest markets in the USA, much like imperial powers are attempting to establish all over the geopolitical Middle East today -- the world saw the rise of a worse form of slavery then ever seen before, according to Mitch Jeserich (KPFA, Berkeley).

Freeing US blacks (
Juneteenth was hailed as a great thing. Freeing anyone is the greatest thing. But what was really happening? By conspiratorial design or impersonal misfortune, slave masters' costs were simply being externalized. Their profits could go up if they simply brought their costs down. That is, why "own" slaves and have to feed, house, impregnate, beat, and otherwise tend to them when one can rent them by the hour (no minimum wage)?

Former slaves immediately fell into indentured servitude and massive debt as one sees today in modern forms of slavery -- sex trafficking in exchange for transport "fees" for those brought to the US or farm workers not being paid even a minimum wage for the most grueling work, housekeepers taken for granted and abused with little to no recourse to complain... 
A newly rediscovered slave plea letter (Annie Davis/
The Boss in "Office Space" (Mike Judge/MTV)
And then there's the lowly white office worker. S/he almost doesn't bear mentioning by comparison. But how does it feel to be a wage slave, in debt up to one's ears for the car, the clothes, the kids, the house/rental, and the prescription medications just to keep the hamster wheel spinning? And the government taking the first three month's worth with no actual legal or constitutional right to (according to former IRS CID Agent turned whistleblower Joseph Banister)? There were always white slaves, slaves of all colors. American slavery made it more about race than slavery ever had been.

The Buddha, diversity of representation (WQ)
Are there not slaves in the Buddhist sutras and Bible? Did not the great sages, the Buddha and the Christ (and their holy Hindu and Hebrew forbears), stand up and decry it? 
There was a form of slavery, a very ancient, one might almost say tolerable form of slavery back then. It does not exist today having been replaced by this mind numbing new form. In the past one -- without regard to race or ethnicity at all -- might become another's "slave" (servant) by falling into debt, but then only to pay off that debt or to see it forgiven every seven years during JUBILEE
And the sages emphasized how important it was to treat one's servants well, for they were no less "human" based on the privations of their socioeconomic status.
About Slavery: They are all around us today, 27 million... (
What we see in modern slavery is far more insidious and pernicious -- and getting worse not better.

In America, as two amazing scholars have been pointing out, we are suffering from "Post Traumatic SLAVE Syndrome" (Dr. Joy DeGruy) and "Mass Incarceration in the Age of [supposed] Colorblindness" (Ohio State Professor  Michelle Alexander). Far from slavery being ended in the USA, it now appears in more creative forms of oppression with nearly no one but the victims noticing.

In the 1999 comedy classic "Office Space," Peter is a normal guy in his 30s, with a new girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), sick of the mindless tasks and bureaucratic nonsense he's subjected to everyday at his Silicon Valley desk job. To deal with his depression and endless orders from his boss, Mr. Lumbergh, he undergoes a change. He stops going in to work and does what many Americans only dream of doing.

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