Slavery in the US

Published: 2020-07-24 07:50:05
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It certainly won’t be hard to distinguish between these two stories about slavery in America during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries because their views are vastly different. In Rivoli’s book, The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy” (TT) she seems to take the side of the farmer/plantation owner. In that she seems to justify the need for slaves to keep the price of cotton down so that the plantations are more profitable.
Instead of the farmers working their own land and/or paying day laborers to help during harvest (as had been done for years prior), they choose to adopt a way to get the cheapest help possible – with the help of Europeans of course. I guess the justified it since the Europeans were already doing it, it must be okay. It is unfathomable that anyone, including Rivoli, could think it was okay to buy and or sell human beings for any reason. Much less to treat any individual the way the slaves on cotton plantations were treated.
In TT, Rivoli also mentions that plantation owners provided comfortable houses for their Negros”, and a good fiddler” every weekend and good medical care. As if this made up for the grueling hours and conditions their slaves had to work and live in. They even put children to work under these conditions. She also mentions the need for whipping,” like they had no choice but to do so. These people were treated like animals, not like the human beings that they were.
In the documentary Slavery & Making of America” (SMA) they paint a completely different picture about life as a slave. Slaves were captured, torn from their families, abused, raped, overworked and even whipped. Not to mention bought and sold as if they belonged to anyone other than themselves to begin with. Most slaves, afraid of what might happen to them and/or their family members, lived with the abuse, as they had no other choice. Where could they go, how could they live? No matter where they went they would be someone’s slave.
They weren’t even allowed to tend to their own children, and many died as a result. In SMA, they talk quite extensively about a female slave that did escape only to be in hiding for the better part of seven years. Escaping from one prison to another simply just to be free of her owner. Although the irony of it was that she wasn’t free of him, she was still his slave while she hid herself away afraid to be taken back or for the safety of her children. Although he couldn’t abuse her physically anymore, he was still abusing her mentally.
I can certainly sympathize with her though; I would rather live in a cramped space all alone that be anyone’s personal slave. Rivoli’s also writes about the U. S’s dominance in the cotton industry and that by practicing the above, the U. S. took over the market and dominated the competition. Of course they did, the other countries like India and Africa for instance, were still working their farms the old fashioned way, by themselves, and paying for any needed labor – or in some cases, all their family members helped bring in the crops.
However, because of their practices, they could produce and harvest nearly as much cotton as the U. S. due to their use of slaves, then advanced machinery, chemicals, and even genetically manufactured seed and of course with subsides from the government later on. I wonder how the U. S. would be regarded around the world now, if it had not been for the dominance in the cotton industry thanks to the slaves. I guess we will never know that for sure, but it is likely that had we played fair to begin with that we certainly wouldn’t be a world dominator now.
And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, in my opinion (I think). In the following section of TT Made in China”, Rivoli continues to protect or justify the harsh conditions employees of the textile plants work it, saying that it is a far cry better than life on the farm. After interviewing some workers who made these comments, she seems to accept that it is true of all workers in these conditions in China. Of course, they may have told her that, what else were they going to say, she was writing a book, the repercussions of their employers could be vast.
In all I am enjoying all of the reading and viewing assignments in this class. I am finding it very eye opening. In the case of slavery, I already knew about it and I am ashamed that my fellow southerners could treat anyone this way. The unfortunate thing is they still do in a lot of cases. Not every one of course, but racism and prejudice still runs rapid in this country and it will never completely go away. So in conclusion, I say, buy organic and buy green people.
” It may be more expensive in the beginning, but if enough of us insist on it, more will have to be produced and as a result the prices will be more reasonable. Even without going organic, eating healthy” is expensive. We are killing our planet and running out of natural resources. We need to plan for the future, replant trees we cut down, restock lakes, rivers and oceans that we fish from and protect the animals that supply our protein. And although we might not run out in our lifetime, but what about the future of our grandchildren and even great grandchildren. We should be planning for their futures.

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