Based on what staff at old plantations say, many Americans have only the vaguest idea what slavery actually is:
In their minds, they’re not sure what slavery was all about, but they know it’s over because “slavery ended after the Civil War.” Everybody knows that.
You cannot understand American history without realizing that slavery was rebranded as sharecropping. The following passage is from The Promised Land:
This inside-Mississippi migration almost always ended with the family feeling that it had been badly gulled, because it turned out to be nearly impossible to make any money sharecropping. The sharecropper’s family would move, early in the year, to a rough two- or three-room cabin on a plantation. The plumbing consisted of, at most, a washbasin, and usually not even that. The only heat came from a woodburning stove. There was no electricity and no insulation. During the winter, cold air came rushing in through cracks in the walls and the floor. Usually the roof leaked. The families often slept two and three to a bed.
Every big plantation was a fiefdom; the small hamlets that ot the map of the Delta were mostly plantation headquarters rather than conventional towns. Sharecroppers traded at a plantation-owned commissary, often in scrip rather than money. (Martin Luther King, Jr., on a visit to an Alabama plantation in 1965, was amazed to meet sharecroppers who had never seen United States currency in their lives.) They prayed at plantation-owned Baptist churches. Their children walked, sometimes miles, to plantation-owned schools, usually one- or two-room buildings without heat or plumbing. Educated ended with the eighth grade and was extremely casual until then. All the grades were taught together, and most of the students were far behind the normal grade level for their age. The textbooks were tattered hand-me-downs from the white schools. The planter could and did shut down the schools whenever there was work to be done in the fields, so the school year for the children of sharecroppers usually amounted to only four or five months, frequently interrupted. Many former sharecroppers remember going to school only when it rained…
..The goods sold at the commissary were usually marked up. Many planters charged exorbitant interest on credit at the commissary, and sometimes on the furnish as well – 20 per cent was a typical rate. When tractors came in during the 1930s, the planters would charge the sharecroppers for the use of them to plow the fields. None of these charges were spelled out clearly as they were made, and usually they appeared on the sharecropper’s annual statement as a single unitemized line, “Plantation Expense.”
Then there was indisputable cheating. There was no brake on dishonest behavior by a planter toward a sharecropper. For a sharecropper to sue a planter was unthinkable. Even to ask for a more detailed accounting was known to be an action with the potential to endanger your life….Hortense Powdermaker, an anthropologist from Yale who spent a year in the 1930s studying the town of Indianola Mississippi, sixty miles down the road from Clarksdale, estimated that only a quarter of the planters were honest in their accounting.
Importantly, this is what slavery looks like when it’s banned in name only. The purpose of sharecropping was to be slavery. In that light, BuzzFeed just published this article about the H-2 visa program.
The number of H-2 visas issued has grown by more than 50% over the past five years. Unlike the better-known H-1B visa program, which brings skilled workers such as computer programmers into America’s high-tech industries, the H-2 program is for the economy’s bottom rung, designed to make it easier for employers to fill temporary, unskilled positions. Proponents argue that it gives foreigners a chance to work here legally, send home much-needed dollars, and return to their families when the job is over.
In March, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce defended the guest worker program before a Senate committee, noting that such “temporary workers are needed in lesser-skilled occupations that are both seasonal and year round,” and that aspects of the program are “critical” to “American workers, the local community, and companies that provide goods and services to these seasonal businesses.”
Tens of thousands of companies, ranging from family businesses to huge corporations, have participated in the program since it took its modern form in 1986. Employers pledge to pay their workers a set rate, which can range from the federal minimum wage to a higher “prevailing wage” that varies from state to state and job to job. As for the employees, they can only work for the company that sponsored their visa. They are legally barred from seeking other employment and must leave the country when the job ends.
In practice, it’s very literally the same thing as sharecropping:
Many companies pay their guest workers less than the law mandates. Others pay them for fewer hours than they actually work, or force them to work extremely long hours without overtime. Some, on the other hand, offer them far less work than promised, at times leaving workers without enough money to buy food. Employers also whittle away at wages by imposing an array of prohibited fees — starting with bribes to get the jobs in the first place, which can leave workers so deep in debt that they are effectively indentured servants.
Guest workers often toil in conditions that are unsafe, inhumane, or simply exhausting, wielding dangerous machinery beneath a scorching sun or standing for hours on end in sweltering factories. And at the end of their shift, many workers retire to grim, squalid quarters that might be little more than a grimy mattress on the floor of a crowded, vermin-infested trailer. For such housing, some employers charge workers extortionate rent.
Though it is against the law, employers often exert additional control over guest workers by confiscating their passports, without which many foreign workers, fearful of being deported, feel unsafe leaving the worksite. Some employers extend their influence over workers to extremes, screening their mail, preventing them from receiving visitors, banning radios and newspapers, or even coercing them to attend religious services they don’t believe in. Some foremen sexually harass female workers, who live in constant fear of losing their jobs and being deported.
The world has become accustomed in recent years to hearing of guest worker abuse in countries such as Qatar or Thailand. But this is happening in the United States. And the problem is not just a few unscrupulous employers. The very structure of the visa program enables widespread abuse and exploitation.
The way H-2 visas shackle workers to a single employer leaves them almost no leverage to demand better treatment. The rules also make it easy to banish a worker to her home country at the boss’s whim. And guest workers tend to be so poor — and, often, so indebted from the recruitment fees they paid to get the job in the first place — that they feel they have no choice but to endure even the worst abuses.
Court documents and interviews revealed numerous cases where workers who tried to speak out said they received threats to their lives. Many others claimed they were blacklisted by employers, losing the opportunity to get jobs that, however miserable, give them more money than they could earn in their own countries.
The government has been warned repeatedly over almost two decades that the guest worker program is deeply troubled, with more than a dozen official reports excoriating it for everything from widespread visa fraud to rampant worker abuse, and even calling for its elimination. Since 2005, Labor Department investigation records show, at least 800 employers have subjected more than 23,000 H-2 guest workers to violations of the federal laws designed to protect them from exploitation, including more than 16,000 instances of H-2 workers being paid less than the promised wage.
Those numbers almost certainly understate the problem, as the federal government doesn’t check up on the vast majority of companies that bring guest workers into this country. The Labor Department noted in its statement that it has limited resources, with only about 1,000 investigators to enforce protections for all 135 million workers in the U.S. Still, it said, it recovered more than $2.6 million in back wages owed to roughly 4,500 H-2 workers in the 2014 fiscal year. In that year, the agency said, it found violations in 82% of the H-2 visa cases it investigated.
The essential difference between slavery and sharecropping is the name. The essential differences between sharecropping and H-2 visas are the name and the fact that we use Mexicans for slaves, now. Those are the only differences. Mexicans are the new rapists. We’ll be lynching them soon enough when Donald Trump is President.
In America, the white people still hate the slaves. They give themselves too much credit. Every white person alive has heard racist remarks about Mexicans.