modern slaves

Studs Terkel gives us a window to look through, and see the lives of “working class” Americans that hold jobs that essential to our daily lives, yet these are the people that go without acknowledgement. It is a genius perspective when starting off by asking: Who built the pyramids?. Instantly we think the Ancient Egyptians, then our mind automatically slips to the Pharaohs and the royalty who had these pyramids built. All of us fail to remember the slaves who died making those pyramids, only for us to glorify and attribute it to the royalty. And it sounds brutal, yet we are doing the same to our modern day “slaves” as well. 

My parents are also working class immigrants, and they would always say that Slavery is not over, and that we are all a slave to the system, but now it all makes sense. We work at jobs to make money, only to come home, eat, sleep and repeat. Barely having time to enjoy extended time with family friends, or doing the things you prefer. Working these jobs that only pay enough for you to stay alive, and live paycheck to paycheck.

A prime example of of “modern slave” can be shown when Joe And Susie speak of their Grandfathers land. He owned 982 acres, but sold out for about 27 cents an acre! Joe says the government  sweated his grandfather out of millions of dollars, and there is nothing he can do about it. Joe and Susies son makes a good point upon his return from Vietnam stating that it is better out there. At least the country isn’t paying extensive taxes to live in dirt like they are. The last part of this story that stuck out was the  27 dollars the government paid a women to get off her land, so they could make an estimated 25 million dollars on gas on oil from her land. They claim she had no choice. Susie is trying have their voice heard and claims shell go up in arms if they refuse to listen, but we can almost guess what ends up happening to her. She sees no progress. 

This all ties back to today. As Pierce Walker discussed, how often do we go to the supermarket and think, “someone is farming these for us,  and putting in hard labor”? Rarely. Instead we are quick to thank the man lining up the lettuce on the shelf, as if hes the one to make it happen. These important jobs go unnoticed, underpaid, and as discussed by many of the workers in the reading, unappreciated. Although by no means do I say this literally, but there is definitely a place to call these people, “modern slaves”.

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One thought on “modern slaves

  1. Eloquent post about the way that commodities are often “fetishized” for us in ways that obscure the work that goes into their production. And of course the way Terkel wants to make us aware of those “invisible” ones who build pyramids and everything else.

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