“Disposable People”

February 26, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Nonfiction | 3 Comments

It wasn’t until a few months ago, when I read Nobodies, that I realized slavery was still an issue.  This is strange, because I’ve always taken an interest in social justice, I knew about sweatshop labor, and I even wrote a college paper comparing prison labor to slavery.  Where is this subject in the news?  Disposable People got under my skin in a bad way, because Kevin Bales does not offer any kind of checklist of places or products to boycott.  First you’re going to tell me about slavery, and then you’re going to tell me there are no easy ways to get rid of it?

Americans learn in grade school that we fought the Civil War to end slavery, just like we fought World War II to end fascism.  I think most of us were satisfied with that.  Gee, slavery really sucked – thank goodness that’s all over.  Hand me another Coke.

The disturbing picture that appears in Disposable People is that slavery has existed continuously for at least a few thousand years.  Those of us who are free have been blithely going along, minding our own business.  If it’s not right under our noses, we don’t see it.  Abraham Lincoln said, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”  I’m sure someone else at some point also said what I think, which is that we are all in big trouble if anyone is a slave anywhere.  I think free people are required to know about this.

So, here is a link to the website of Free the Slaves, an organization that works to fight global slavery.  I will offer to buy a copy of Disposable People for any reader who sends me proof of membership in Free the Slaves or another anti-slavery organization.

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