The history of slavery continues to have a significant influence on contemporary society in diverse ways. According to Crane (2013), societies are not blends of distinct people fashioning themselves anew from various generations. Rather, “a complex web of social connections and a long train of historical influences interact to form the opportunities and shape the outlook of individuals” (Crane, 2013, p. 51).
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It does not imply that personal commitment does not contribute to shaping one’s life. Nonetheless, cultural affinities, historical backgrounds, and communal influence play a significant role in one’s life. It underscores the reason the conservatives are adamant that cultural divergences are the primary causes of racial inequality in the United States. A study of America’s “underclass culture” reveals the repercussions of the history of slavery. The study reveals that the history of slavery influences the politics of the United States, the identity of African-Americans as well as the education system.
Impacts of History of Slavery on Contemporary Politics
Nunn (2007) posits, “The theory of historical persistence of political attitudes maintains that regional differences in contemporary white attitudes in part trace their origins to the late slave period and the duration after its collapse” (p. 161). The history shows that the fall of slavery was an unfortunate incident that had negative impacts on the economic and political clout of the Southern whites. It resulted in a sudden liberation and enfranchisement of the blacks.
Further, it ended the political control that the whites had enjoyed for a long time. Also, it posed a significant threat to the Southern plantation economy. The economic and political transformations that arose as a result of the fall of slavery served as a scapegoat for Southern Black Belt leaders to peddle anti-black sentiments. The leaders called for the whites to revolt against blacks.
Nunn (2007) maintains that the history of slavery influences contemporary politics in the South. The present political attitudes, which are prevalent in the U.S. South, are a product of the history of slavery. It continues to influence the political stance that white Southerners embrace. Nunn (2007) argues that a majority of the whites who reside in the Cotton Belt have negative opinions towards blacks. They believe that the fall of slavery is what robbed them the political and economic powers.
Presently, many residents of the Cotton Belt associate themselves with the Republican Party. Further, they are opposed to all policies that support the abolishment of racial discrimination like affirmative action. The “slavery effect” contributes to over 10% of the political party inclination in the United States today. Levine (2012) maintains, “In political circles, the South’s opinionated conservatism is often credited to ‘Southern exceptionalism’” (p. 52). Nevertheless, research shows that contemporary political divergences are as a result of the historical existence of slaves. Slavery continues to influence the political views of the Americans long after its abolishment.
History of Slavery and Modern Education System
According to Reece and O’Connell (2016), the legacy of slavery has a significant impact on the contemporary education system in the United States. The history of slavery influences school enrollment, particularly in the South. There is a strong correlation between regions that had high slave concentration and school enrollment. Racial isolation characterizes the American education system. In the South, racial segregation is prevalent in private schools.
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Reece and O’Connell (2016) claim that historical circumstances like slavery contribute to the contemporary degree of racial isolation in schools in the South. After the abolishment of slavery, the blacks embarked on a reconstruction program that entailed enrolling for education. Nevertheless, the whites were determined to ensure that the blacks did not get a quality education. They opposed the establishment of the universal education system. Later, Brown vs. the Board of Education case allowed the blacks to enroll in public schools that initially registered the white students only. Eventually, the whites started to renounce public schools and construct private learning institutions.
Reece and O’Connell (2016) claim, “The history of slavery suggests that there is a link between whites’ understanding of the contemporary education system and enrollment patterns” (p. 49). Despite the effort made to improve the education standard in public schools, many whites prefer to enroll their children in private schools. Besides, numerous private schools are concentrated in areas that were renowned for slavery.
Today, many whites view enrollment into private schools as an avenue to avoid integrated public schools. They used the same strategy during slavery. Crane (2013) holds that whites use education as the modern form of racial segregation. Today, it is hard for whites to force minority groups to work for them. Nevertheless, they can use other methods to ensure that minority groups continue to serve as a primary source of labor. The standard of education in public and private schools differs. Private schools offer a quality education. Therefore, students who enroll in private schools are likely to secure better jobs. It leaves the students from minority groups who enroll in public schools with no option but to work for their white counterparts.
Legacy of Slavery and Contemporary Black Identity
Harper, Patton, and Wooden (2009) claim that the United States guarantees sovereignty and impartiality to all races. Nonetheless, the past few years have seen resurface of concerns of social rights. Currently, the damaging relationship between police and African-American teenagers is a significant public discussion. Harper et al. (2009) hold, “Although there has been robust discussion regarding police-minority relations, a more comprehensive discourse of institutional racism in the media and the black identity it contrives has seldom been heard” (p. 392).
Experts in black identity blame the history of slavery for the challenges that the African-American teenagers face in the effort to forge an identity. Many black teens prefer to associate themselves with renowned athletes such as Michael Jordan, the late Muhammad Ali, and Jim Brown. Success in athletics serves as a status symbol among the blacks. Levine (2012) claims that the value attributed to athletic proficiency these days is premised on the demand for physical abilities that made slaves invaluable.
The whites believed that slaves who looked healthy served as an attractive labor force. The association of physical strength with adeptness during slavery is what has resulted in many black youths struggling to keep healthy. According to Levine (2012), slavery brought about the need for African-Americans appears physically robust. The demand to appear healthy has developed into a custom and a source of pleasure amid the black youths. Indeed, most African-American teens prefer athletic careers to education.
Legacy of Slavery and Mental Health
Evans-Campbell (2008) alleges that the history of slavery has devastating impacts on the mental well-being of the minority groups, particularly the African-Americans. Many African-Americans still struggle with the repercussions of white supremacy. Unfortunately, the government of the United States does not have modalities to address the adverse effects of the history of slavery (Evans-Campbell, 2008). Today, many African-Americans grapple with stifle emotions related to slavery. The study shows that cases of suicide are common among the African-Americans. Psychiatrists associate the high rate of suicide with the aftermath of slavery.
Historians claim that African-Americans are descendants of slaves. The fact that blacks are offspring of slaves is degrading and impairs the self-esteem of African-Americans. Evans-Campbell (2008) holds that the history of slavery does not affect blacks only. It also has negative impacts on the whites. The whites feel guilty for being complicit in a system that is against the egalitarian principles on which the United States is founded. It underlines the reason there is an increase in the number of race-based crimes perpetrated by the whites.
Slavery Today and Its Outcomes
The history of slavery shows that people can identify their needs and clarify the goals they want to achieve. Several modern people continue living their ordinary lives, cherishing the dreams of a happy future, liberty, and happiness, and believing that, today, they have nothing in common with slavery or other activities that could diminish the rights of certain groups of people. However, the same dreams and intentions could be observed during the times when slavery was an ordinary thing, and several African-Americans could not even imagine their lives without being enslaved. Today, people believe that they have already got rid of slavery and provide their generations with free and happy lives.
Therefore, the question of freedom remains to be open because people cannot understand how blind they are in regards to slavery issues. Bales and Soodalter (2010) underline that slavery exists and even flourishes today, and people cannot neglect this fact. The poor thing is that modern slavery could gain several different forms. Sometimes, people cannot even comprehend that they become victims of slavery at one moment. It thrives in the dark and occurs in the places people expect it least (Bales & Soodalter, 2010).
One of the most important lessons got from history is the necessity to fight against slavery and make people understand their worth and their rights. As well as modern slavery gains various forms, the forms of wars against slavery could vary. Some people prefer to organize strikes and open discussions to attract the attention of the government and underline the importance of changes. Some people take guns in their hands and want to believe that they strive for independence and justice.
Many people prefer a kind of passive opposition and use online forums, academic research, or analysis as the ways to share stats about modern slavery and provide people with knowledge that should change the opinions of people regarding the importance of slavery today. For example, the developers of specialized sites use the numbers offered by researchers and inform that more than 30 million of people are enslaved worldwide today, and the forms of labor slavery, child slavery, or sex slavery are not the only ones people could suffer from (Free the Slaves, 2016).
Several years ago, slavery did exist, but it was not analyzed and investigated thoroughly. People had nothing to do but accept the fact that slavery was an integral part of their lives. Slaves did not even think that their problems, challenges, and life-threatening activities could be investigated to be diminished. Nowadays, people take several important historical lessons and try to identify the sources of slavery to eradicate it.
It was concluded that such reasons as the explosion of population in developing countries, discrimination in regards to social inequality, migration of people from rural areas to cities, and corruption of the government make people vulnerable (Free the Slaves, 2016). In the 18th and 19th centuries, slavery was declared as something bad and unjust (Walvin, 2009). Still, people could do nothing to prevent their spreading in society.
Nowadays, people become smarter and more inventive to introduce powerful approaches to protect people against numerous traps of modern slavery. For example, people are provided with comprehensive education about their rights and actions that could be taken to avoid slavery, informed how to contact the police and explain the problems clearly, and offered various types of psychological, medical, and legal support (Free the Slaves, 2016).
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The history of slavery and the lessons people take from it helps the society a lot. Besides, the possibilities to exchange information fast via the Internet, telephones, and other media types become available worldwide. One group of people could observe the situations other groups of people have to deal with, learn from the mistakes, and make the conclusions that could lead to positive outcomes. Mutual support, understanding, and identification of slavery as a current social problem make people think about their opportunities and rights.
The history serves to help people understand their mistakes and avoid them to get a safe and sound future. The history of the South shows that people’s intentions to get rid of slavery cost several lives. Today, people should do everything to avoid the same outcomes and make certain contributions to eradicating slavery from society. Nowadays, there are many significant problems connected with globalization, hunger, natural disasters, etc., so that people should understand that mutual support, collectivism, and personal involvement could help to survive and create appropriate living conditions without slavery or other forms of inequalities that bother people.
The history of slavery has diverse impacts on contemporary society. It influences the politics of the United States. The whites who originate from regions that were notorious for slavery are ardent supporters of the Republican Party and its ideologies. They oppose all race-based policies. The legacy of slavery contributes to contemporary disparities in school enrollment in the United States. Public schools are associated with blacks. Most whites decline to enroll their children in public schools, particularly in areas dominated by blacks. History of slavery influence black identity in modern society. The whites valued slaves who looked healthy.
Today, African Americans endeavor to appear healthy as they associate it with success. Research shows that the legacy of slavery affects the mental health of both whites and blacks. Many blacks endure psychological pain when they recall what their ancestors suffered at the hands of the whites. Conversely, many whites feel ashamed of being complicit in a system that undermined the principles of the United States.
In general, the role of the history of slavery cannot be neglected. It introduces several lessons and much information about the mistakes that have been already made and the opportunities that could still be used to promote success and create the future all people are dreaming of.
Bales, K. & Soodalter, R. (2010). The slave next door: Human trafficking and slavery in America today. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.
Crane, A. (2013). Modern slavery as a management practice: Exploring the conditions and capabilities of human exploitation. Academy of Management Review, 38(1), 49-69.
Evans-Campbell, T. (2008). Historical trauma in American Indian/Native Alaska communities: A multilevel framework for exploring impacts on individuals, families and communities. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(3), 316-338.
Free the slaves. (2016). Slavery today.
Harper, S., Patton, L., & Wooden, O. (2009). Access and equity for African American students in higher education: A critical race historical analysis of policy efforts. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(4), 389-414.
Levine, L. (2012). Black culture and black consciousness: Afro-American folk thought from slavery to freedom. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nunn, N. (2007). Historical legacies: A model linking Africa’s past to its current underdevelopment. Journal of Development Economics, 83(1), 157-175.
Reece, R., & O’Connell, H. (2016). How the legacy of slavery and racial composition shape public school enrollment in the American South. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 2(1), 42-57.