Frederick Douglass Experience
Some words in the English language are unable to be defined or justified, and slavery is one of those words. In the dictionary, slavery is defined as severe toil; drudgery. When slaves and former slaves see that definition, they must roll over in their graves because of the fact that so many years of privation could be defined by these three simple words. There are a million words that could be used to describe slavery, but no combination of letters could truly convey everything slaves had to witness and endure. While many people see vast differences between modern slavery and slavery throughout history, they are in fact quite similar in that they force slaves through the same hardships. Despite the time gap and major advances in society since the 1800s, slaves today are treated very similar to how they were treated so long ago.
To begin, back in the 1800s, African Americans were enslaved by white Southerners. Until Abraham Lincoln came to power and abolished slavery, there was no law against this inhumane act. Small children and the elderly were forced to work from sunrise to sunset and were dehumanized through harsh beatings and scolding. Along with the physical beatings endured; their masters sexually hectored women. As a result of this, many masters were the fathers of their slaves.
At first, myriads of slaves were sundered from their home country Africa, but soon they were reproduced and taken from other plantations. They were sold at auctions, as if they were animals, their body being checked on every visage down to every last tooth. The wealthy had hundreds of slaves on their plantation. Subsequently, most slaves were illiterate, so even if they could escape they would have no way to support themselves. Unlike American slavery in the 1800s, modern- day slavery in India exists in a less conspicuous manner. Wealthy people promise poor people a job to force them into labor, plundering their money just because they know these people have no choice but to subject themselves to torture in order to obtain the necessities to live.
There are nearly fourteen million slaves in all of India, men and women, adults and children. Just like the African American slaves, these slaves are often also abused sexually. Even though they can technically emancipate themselves by repaying the money they’ve borrowed from their “employers”, interest rates are constantly rising and therefore making it next to impossible for a poor slave to pay back the loan and keeping them staid in slavery. When a slave dies without repaying this loan, the debt is passed on to their children, fueling the pernicious cycle of slavery. Their labor is sold on the black market.
Hence, slavery today may not affect us here in the United States, but it is certainly a major world issue. On the whole, while modern slavery and slavery in the 1800s have their differences, they both have the same core struggles. There will never be an ample amount of words in the word to describe what these innocent people are forced to endure. Frederick Douglass once stated, “I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” To most people, not being able to get what you want is not getting the nicest new clothes or not getting to pick what slice of cake you recieve. In Frederick Douglass’s context, not getting what you want is much deeper.
Frederick was born into slavery and never knew the glories of freedom until he conjectured his opinion and freed himself from slavery when he was in his twenties. To Frederick, not getting what you want is being deprived of every right that humans deserve, the right to speak freely, the right to learn, the right to support yourself. All a young slave could ever want is a warm bed to sleep in at night or enough food to fuel them through a long, hard day of work. So next time you get the smaller piece of cake while you sit in your warm house surrounded by all of the people who love you, remember to look at the bigger picture.