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Labor Day or Slavery Day

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

If I were to begin talking or writing about slavery, many (I presume) would immediately think of early America and the Civil War.  Those were times which should be considered a learning experience as well as scarring upon our history.  If I were to add that I am speaking of modern slavery, I again presume, that many would immediately think of some “third-world” country.  I make the presumption because I would have thought that very way until recently.

I recently learned of slavery existing right here in the United States.  I am not writing of those Civil War era times.  I am writing about the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  I am writing about the year 1997.  Please take a moment to think about that before I write the next date.  Does slavery in southern parts of the United States of America in 1997 seem forgettable?  What about the year 2010?  Is slavery in 2010 recent enough for you to help?

Will these examples mean something?  {U.S. vs. Flores – 1997} {U.S. vs. Cuello – 1999} {U.S. vs. Tecum – 2001} {U.S. vs. Lee – 2001} {U.S. vs. Ramos – 2004} {U.S. vs. Ronald Evans – 2007} {U.S. vs. Navarrete – 2008} {U.S. vs. Bontemps – 2010} {U.S. vs. Global Horizons – 2010}

Some of the above cases resulted in convictions of slavery, conspiracy, involuntary servitude, and witness tampering charges to name only a partial list.  This is not America one-hundred years ago.  This is right here in the United States.  Maybe you are thinking that this must be some run-away children or prostitutes involved with modern day “pimps”.  Shockingly enough, it is not.  It seems to be a repeat of pre 1865 United States, however, I wonder if it ever actually ended in the far south.

It has been many years since I attended a history class dealing with the 1865 era of the United States.  However, I am pretty certain I remember over six-hundred-thousand deaths being attributed to the Civil War.  Forgive me if I have that number wrong.  The point which cannot be denied is that forced servitude is illegal in the United States.  Additionally, that it discounts hundreds of thousands of deaths to ignore this issue.

I gained much of the information about this from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  It is so appalling to go into this weekend of Labor Day with political conventions dominating the news.  Politics has become a form of entertainment like some dysfunctional “reality” television show.

Have we become so worried about tomorrow’s talking point being fed to us by pundits disguised as news groups that we cannot be shocked by reality?  Must we pretend to be traumatized in feigned awe by over-exaggerated, out of context statements made by the “other side”?  Can our media not take on genuine and current ethical issues without political involvement?  If the answer to that later question is as I suspect, then we should be humiliated.  We should also act.

If politics is necessary to make anything news worthy, then I want some answers from politicians.  I want to know that they are going to get involved in this.  It is Labor Day weekend of 2012 and we have court cases this year involving forced labor rings.  Call me a “bleeding heart liberal” if you must but I am writing about f___ing slavery in the year 2012.

We seriously have United States soldiers being killed in other countries at this moment and we can’t solve slavery on our own soil.  How do we explain that to a dead soldier’s family?  Did we lose our own Civil War?  Did I only get a copy of the “short” version of the thirteenth amendment to our Constitution?  Maybe there was some new skin color clause I missed in the Constitution.   Do human rights issues only matter to U.S. politicians when it involves our military invading another country?

The answer to the latter question is no.  I write that answer because our Secretary of State presented an award for 2010 to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers concerning the fight against slavery.  If you do not remember this, don’t be ashamed.  I didn’t know it until very recently, yet I remember the previous Secretary of State explaining a need to invade another country.

Other politicians have been slightly involved in this issue and I mean not to discount their efforts for human rights work.  I am frustrated that it is almost Labor Day in the year 2012 and I cannot remember slavery as ancient history in the United States.  My child will be studying U.S. History of the nineteenth century in school this year and I will have to explain that slavery occurred in her lifetime.  As parents, we should be nothing less than ashamed.

I have seen the coalition asking for better pay that would equate to $0.01 per pound of tomatoes.  I can’t afford to pay for my children’s college educations, but I would gladly pay $0.05 more per pound of tomatoes to assist workers.  I am not endorsing the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, nor am I writing that they are correct on all issues.  However, the fact that slavery existed in our lifetimes in our country is something which should mortify us.  Agreeing or disagreeing with the agenda of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is insignificant.  Involuntary servitude in the twenty-first century is a crucial social topic to be resolved.

I am not writing to ask anybody to donate anything to the coalition.  I am simply asking small favors from everybody for this holiday.  This weekend is to celebrate and show respect for the working class people of this country.  Please resist the urge to discuss politicians’ birth certificates.  Please resist the urge to discuss contempt for politicians’ wealth.  Please take a moment to honor the working class people of this country.  Please take a moment to both discuss and condemn the actions of Miguel Flores, Sebastian Gomez, Abel Cuello, Jose Tecum, Michael Lee, and Juan and Ramiro Ramos all of whom were convicted of slavery.  (And likely within your lifetime if you were born before 1997).

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