flesl.net paired stories: conversation: Michael Lee

web address: flesl.net/Reading/Stories/Series2/Michael_L/MichaelL_conversation.php

capture:
catch, take prisoner

define:
explain the meaning of

human nature:
what humans are really like (independent of their education, culture, etc.)

immoral:
wrong, bad, evil

propaganda:
true or false information repeatedly broadcast by government to influence public opinion

exploit:
treat selfishly and cruelly

chattel:
a legal word which refers to all types of property except buildings and land (i.e. “real estate”)

outlaw:
make illegal (against the law)

enforce:
if a law is “enforced,” people who break it are punished.

theoretically against the law:
against the law (a sort of “theory”) but the law is not taken seriously, and usually not enforced

widespread:
found in many places over a large area

human trafficking:
illegally taking people (especially women) from one country to another and forcing them to work (often as sex workers)

forced labor:
work people are forced to do usually for little or no pay

appropriation:
taking something (e.g. land or labor power), often by government and with little or no payment

• conversation activities for ‘Michael Lee’

1. intermediate activity

discuss the following questions with the other members of your group.

• Is the situation of George and the other grapefruit pickers captured by Michael correctly described as “slavery”? (If you think it’s slavery, explain why. If you don’t think it’s slavery, explain why.)

• How would you define the word ‘slavery’?

• Do you know of any other situations anywhere in the world where people are still living in slavery—or in a condition very much like slavery? If so, describe it, explain it, connect it.

• Do you think it is part of human nature to accept the idea of slavery? In other words, do you think that unless people are made to think that slavery is immoral (by their education, by their religion, by political propaganda) that they would see nothing wrong with the idea of human beings owning other human beings? (Or exploiting in some other way that is similar to slavery even though it does not actually involve ownership.)

2. advanced activity

discuss the following material with the other members of your group

— the type of slavery to which Francis Bok was subjected is known as “chattel slavery.” A chattel slave is the property of his or her owner, can be bought or sold and, with few restrictions, treated as the owner wishes. The children of chattel slaves are generally regarded as slaves from birth.

— chattel slavery has now been outlawed everywhere or almost everywhere. There are still some places, however, such as the area where Francis Bok was captured, where even though this type of slavery is theoretically against the law, it is still practiced because the law is not enforced.

— although chattel slavery has become rare, there are many other types of exploitation which can reasonably be called “slavery” and which are still common and widespread. Debt-bondage, servile and underage marriage, child labor, and various types of human trafficking and forced labor are examples of such practices.

— estimates of the number of slaves in the early 21st Century depend on how “slavery” is defined. For example, most cases of forced labor are not counted as slavery by the United Nations body, The International Labor Organization, while the respected anti-slavery organization, Free the Slaves, uses a broader definition which does allow many types of forced labour to qualify as slavery. According to The International Labor Organization, as of 2010, there are approximately twelve million slaves in the world; according to Free the Slaves, the number of slaves is currently around twenty-seven million.

— here is a definition of slavery by Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves:
Slavery has three key dimensions: control by another person, the appropriation of labor power and the use or threat of violence.