What are the harmful implications of slavery?

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Answered by: Michael, An Expert in the Slavery Category
Time and time again, we hear that slavery in the United States ended a long time ago. We hear that the people living today have never experienced slavery, therefore have no excuse. We are told that the present-day African-Americans, having been born free, enjoy lives of equality and fairness, unlike those of their ancestors. Despite the claims, however, many African-Americans are living lives not much different from those of their progenitors. They live a life of slavery—slavery of the mind—as a lasting result caused by the American Slave Trade. The implications of slavery have greatly contributed to this mental state.

During slavery, slaves were forbidden to read or write. This is a fact that is currently ignored by the general public. The populace today ignores that fact because of sheer ignorance and unwillingness to bridge the social gap between people of different cultures. This has caused so much of the gap between middle-class whites and poor blacks. Yet we ignore it. White people grow up speaking and hearing proper English, in the home, straight from birth, yet black people are born into homes where Ebonics is spoken. Once the child goes to school, if he’s white, he’ll pick up a book and read it easily; if he’s black, he’ll be confused. All throughout his schooling, the white student earns higher grades, aces standardized tests, gets admitted into top colleges, and earns much more in his lifetime. The black student, not knowing how to read at the appropriate level, falls behind and never catches up to his level, let alone the white student’s level.

The prohibition of literature may have been imposed centuries ago, during slavery, but the mindset caused by it has been passed down, generationally, since. It’s evident through the speech patterns of typical African-Americans, particularly those in the southern states, a region hit hardest by slavery. The sad reality of the matter is that people might continue to ignore this forever. They might continue rehashing the idea that slavery happened a long time ago and thus nothing might be done to bring awareness to the issue. What people need to consider is that if a group of people is illiterate and cannot compete in our highly literacy-dependent world, how can they achieve unity and self-pride when they are always fighting fiercely against each other for scarce resources, physically killing each other, or ostracizing themselves from others within the group?

They say slavery ended one-hundred fifty years ago, but they could not be more wrong. Slavery was happening last year, last month, last week, yesterday; it is happening today. The only way it could end is if the people responsible for teaching history address this blatant fact. Because the community was hurt so much by slavery, it is up to the few wakeful ones to address their slumbering brothers and sisters. While the country may be led by a black president, the black community still suffers at the micro level. As a matter of fact, the election of President Obama might have been a snooze button for those who were at the brink of waking.

Proceeding in time, African-Americans are responsible for learning about the implications of slavery. They are responsible for reversing the effects of it. People within other groups are responsible for learning the aftershocks of slavery, as well, so that they could better understand the cause of such a wide social gap between the races. In turn, the union would be a more perfect union, with people from different groups embracing each other.

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