Historically, America was discovered by Christopher Columbus when he sailed the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 — a time frame of over 500 years ago. From then til now, countless changes have been made and numberless innovations have been developed, yet one thing stayed the same: slavery. So why is it, that the prospect of slavery, despite being perceived as wrong by society, is still a prominent issue in our world today? Looking at slavery from a more detailed standpoint, it is not that the act, nor the victims who forcibly succumbed to its treacherous grasp, that is the problem; no, the problem lies within the minds and the morality of those who practice the dreadful act. Since the moment the first slave stepped foot onto American soil until now, the one thing that stayed the same are the thoughts residing in those who practice slavery. Men and women who believe in the rightfulness of slavery view slaves not as human beings, but as a possession. They think that slaves are inferior in each and every way, and they are incapable of keeping a strong grasp on their greed, instead allowing it to dictate their actions and obliviate their morals.
In the past, slavery played an important role in southern economy. Yet despite their essential role on plantations, slaves themselves were treated with malice and contempt. Slave owners viewed their slaves not as human beings, but as property. In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass notes his observations on the valuation of an owner’s slaves, stating that “horses and men, cattle and women, all [held] the same rank in the scale of being”. These capable men and women were viewed as nothing more than a possession to be owned and used until their use wears out, and sadly, centuries later, nothing has changed. Modern day slavery still exists because those who still practice it have lost their ability to seek humanity in others, only perceiving the act as morally ethical because of their twisted belief that some humans are under them and should only be treated as an object. They no longer feel pity or sympathy for those people-turned slaves, instead, looking at those unfortunate circumstances as proof of their ill fate to be treated as nothing more than pack mules. This illogical reasoning brings out the worst in humans and turns a completely inhumane practice into a normality.
Statistically, most modern day slaves are people that originate from unfortunate circumstances — people who are looking for an opportunity to improve their life, and in some cases, their family’s as well. A non-profit organization (Fight Slavery Now) seeking to end slavery wrote of the uncanny relations between those are forced into slavery and their financial, as well as educational, situation. As they discuss the ties between people who lack the necessary educational skills to report their enslavement to those who take advantage of this, Fight Slavery Now also shows a YouTube video of Lydia Cacho and her thoughts on the root causes of slavery. In this video, Cacho discusses the necessary actions to abolish this practice. She also speaks of the people who practice this and what they yield to keep slaves from escaping or notifying authorities. There, it is revealed that most slaveholders trick their victims into believing that there is a better opportunity awaiting them in a foreign country. Then, when those victims travel there, nothing awaits them except solitary enslavement. Not only are the victims tied to slaveholders because they cannot call for help due to the difference in culture and language, but they are also subjected to threats, not just to themselves, but also to their families. An example of this cruelty lies in the life of Flor Molina who was sent to the U.S. and forced into enslavement at a garment industry. There, she was forced to work without payment in harsh conditions by her captor, who abused her with threatening words and unforgiving punishments. Slaveholders take advantage of people like Molina who live in poverty and lack the necessary education for an easy life. Slavery is still a major issue today because people see those in lesser situations as inferior and undeserving of standard treatment.
Other than the twisted and unethical beliefs in the minds of these slaveholders, another essential element drives the demoralizing practice: greed. In the past, slave owners would justify slavery in newspapers and articles because they did not feel pity for their slaves, only thinking with their greed and not their humanity. Today, nothing is different; the main reason for men and women to traffick others is for the free labor that slaves can provide. These people have allowed their greed to overcome their morals and obliviate their minds of the difference between right and wrong. It is said that there are over 12.3 million people who are enslaved in the U.S., either in the cotton or in the garment industry. Instead of hiring workers and paying them the legal wage, people take advantage of those in poverty and force them into back-breaking labor for less than the minimum. These horrendous people are motivated by their greed for more money and their selfish desire to accumulate more wealth. One man by the name of Lassissi Afolabi, for instance, has been sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment for smuggling over 20 women into slavery. This is only one uncovered instance of avarice being the main driving force for the appalling practice. There are millions of other slaves being forced to work unreasonable hours for next to nothing wages because of people’s inhumanity and unnecessary greed.
All in all, the world that we live in might be more innovative and technologically advanced than that of over 500 years ago, but the minds of those who live in it has not developed past the idle belief in the enslavement of other humans. Delving into the minds of those who practice slavery today, it can be seen that they are no longer capable of distinguishing between companion and possession. They have lost their ability to see the humanity in others. Instead, these atrocious humans have allowed their greed to drive their thoughts and actions against those in less fortunate circumstances that they deem “inferior” to their superiority. Modern day slavery exists because people are unable to get past these deplorable ways of thinking and view everyone as an equal, not a tool.