Why Modern Slavery is Not Important to Some | Nathan Wilson
In recent decades, the West has faced many different challenges from both external and internal sources. We have seen this we the rise and fall of both Fascism and Communism and right now it is dealing with the issue of a global pandemic. However, as the world moves and aims towards its new reality one might begin to question the issues being raised by some. As Abraham Lincoln once stated of the American Civil War which devastated his nation, “the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present”.
This man has personified the feelings of this generation and its issues, of the historical slavery and racism in America and – by extension – the United Kingdom. With the Black Lives Matter movement spreading around the world, it has urged many to examine the histories of their nations over a series of complex and intricate racial issues. The main one: historic slavery.
There is a false conversation that is being had that is getting in the way of a real conversation that is needed. Black Lives Matter is an example of such a movement and such false conversations. Although it is a message that all good people could get behind, it is the movement that is more revealing, and as a response given by these various movements, they have merely exposed their empty hand unto the world.
If we are going to talk about historic slavery and colonialism then we can all benefit from a visit to our local public libraries. When talking about slavery we need to hold a more holistic view: perhaps this is personified by Lincoln, a man who ultimately died for such causes; or perhaps this is best personified by Edward Colston, a slave trader from Bristol. Each are ‘great’ symbols which are solidly within the past of both nation’s histories. Therefore, it poses a different question: why so much concern for people lost to the tragedies of history books while there still lingers a silence the modern slavery? The answer to this question is a simple one.
It is takes very little effort to examine past events and apply modern standards and trends onto them, and slavery is no exception. The Original Sin of colonialism and slavery that now burdens the West has been a tool of extracting power and money for a specific class of individuals who seek to profit off the grievances of those groups. Even in the United Kingdom we see such actions being played out: individuals such as Afua Hirsch, Kehinde Andrews and Dawn Butler MP being prime examples; individuals who have spent their entire adult life feeding off the grievances of minorities within the United Kingdom, individuals who have proudly sold the badge of victimhood onto many young minds; people who try to injure the moral authority of Western society, so that they can portray themselves as the saviours of those groups.
It is for these individuals that the blight of modern slavery goes unheard and will remain that way sadly. They have sold the idea that black history equals slave history and that the ‘black experience’ is solely one of oppression and injustice. It is plainly evident that so called ‘black’ history does not start or end with slavery, and we must stop this narrative from infecting more into society and demeaning such groups.
Make no mistake about it, there are many troubles around the world. Modern slavery and the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are prominent examples; yet as we listen, we hear very little talk on these issues. These are major modern social plagues that are endemic in certain parts of the world (over two hundred million women alive today have experienced FGM). Many know when slavery ended in the United Kingdom and the United States, yet many could never you when slavery ended (or even was criminalised) in places like Chad or Mauritania. An estimated 10%-20% of Mauritanian population living in slavery. Again, this goes back to the previous point on why so much noise for those lost to the history of slavery than those who still suffer its plight today or other major injustices?
The case could be put that only a selective group of black lives really do matter for certain individuals. I often remember going back to the film Hotel Rwanda and the scene between Nick Nolte and Don Cheadle when Nolte’s character apologises and explains that help is not coming for the Tutsi’s trapped at said hotel because they are “not even black, you are an African”. This is a perfect critique of the mentality some in the West have regarding the issues around the world faced by black people. For some, modern slavery does not matter; we see modern issues being faced and we turn a blind eye, it requires too much effort or the fact that for some there is no money to be made in such endeavours or ego to be boosted.
As we have the aforementioned individuals making noise over ‘white fragility’, ‘white privilege’ and alleged ‘systemic racism’ I have never seen any of these individuals write about these modern problems that are being faced by other black lives. Such tragedies would and should upset any individual and yet you will never hear anything from these champions of racial injustice. However, these tragedies are not unique to the African continent. We see this in Chicago, where the deaths of ethnic minorities do not make the national headlines every weekend. At the same time, when was the last time you heard about West African child soldiers? Even in the West, the social disease of young men murdering each other is a tragedy; no parent should ever have to bury their child, especially one who was stabbed for having a different postcode, and yet the topic of knife crime will seldom be spoken about by certain groups. This is no different to gun crime in certain American cities or when the Opioid Epidemic of previous decades destroyed similar communities.
This shows that the false conversations we demand on having get in the way of the real conversations that are needed; clearly, modern slavery is not an important issue for some.
It is revealing to see what issues upset and get people riled up. In a world of modern slavery, the Original Sin of colonialism and participation in the Atlantic Slave Trade has merely been used as a tool to bash others and weaponise identity groups, by bad faith actors who do not care about the issues faced by others. This is the class of individuals whose sole role in society is that of keeping the problems of specific groups into the public view having learned they can make a job out of it.
They do not want the issues faced by specific groups to go away because that would mean that they would lose their jobs. Therefore, the issues of modern slavery seldom come up to such individuals and thus is not important. The victims of these true modern injustices and crimes are not important as no honest money or social virtue credit score can be made from them by certain political movements or alleged champions of injustice. Because of this, for some, the issue of modern slavery is not important.