Disposable People: Modern Day Slavery

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I was in complete and utter shock when I began to read Disposable People. The heart-wrenching tale of Seba, a newly freed slave, shook my understanding of people in today’s society, as well as their interactions between each other. I sat in silence as I read Seba’s story. “There they [Seba’s French mistress and husband] stripped me naked, tied my hands behind my back, and began to whip me with a wire attached to a broomstick (Bales 2).” I tried to grasp the magnitude of the situation. I tried unsuccessfully to tell myself that this couldn’t happen in modern times, especially in a city such as Paris. How could this be happening? In the following pages of Kevin Bale’s shocking account of the rampant problem of modern day slavery, I learned of more gruesome details of this horrific crime against humanity, such as the different types of slavery, as well as his best estimate of the number of people still enslaved throughout the world, an appalling 27 million. After reading the prescribed two chapters in the book (Child Prostitution in Thailand and Bonded Labor in Brazil), I was in a state of disbelief. I had been taught since elementary school that slavery had ended everywhere when the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. I had held this belief for years, and it was something that I believed in. Disposable People completely reversed everything that I had learned in the last 13 years about slavery, which was very hard to accept. Slavery is everywhere in the modern world. Like I said before, I was utterly shocked after reading this book. I didn’t know how to react. I was filled with a combination of rage, sorrow, disbelief, and helplessness that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t fully understand how a human being could disgrace another person like this. How could any person ever accept their fate of slavery? I would rather die then be under the direct control of someone else. Since I was having trouble dealing with the information that I had just read, I decided to ask some people what they thought about modern day slavery. The first discussion I had was with my roommates. When I told them what I was reading, they had no idea what I was talking about. They were under the impression that slavery had ended with Abraham Lincoln, like I had been. We discussed the details and differences be... ... middle of paper ... ...e” with the reader, making that person want to take action. This book is also one of the first non-fiction books that I’ve had to write a reaction about. I thought it was going to be difficult to write about a non-fiction book, especially this one, as most non-fiction books are more stories and character development and not cut-and-dry fact. Although this was a non-fiction account, the personal accounts Bales used (such as that of Ronald in Mato Grasso [Bales 127]) did have characters with personal stories, which made it much easier to both relate to the book as a reader and write about the book as a student. These small stories also gave me, as a student, more substance to write about then just numbers and statistics. Overall, Bales did an astounding job mixing those two separate entities, the statistics and the personal, to forge a lasting account of a fairly unknown problem in today’s world. Bales is desperately trying to enlighten the world about slavery, and with this novel, he is well on his way. Bibliography Disposable People Bales, Kevin University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA 1999

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