We often forget that slavery has its own history, with a storyline as old as recorded time. In the United States we mark its origins with the importation of the first “twenty and odd Negroes” into Point Comfort, near present day Hampton, Virginia. Their arrival initiated a system of bonded labor based on race that matured into chattel slavery. This Atlantic slavery system represented the second worldwide use of forced labor. The ancient world birthed the first, a system governed by defined social and labor relations rather than racial characteristics.
To many, slavery is in the past–the subject of books and movies with little bearing on what’s happening in towns and cities worldwide. Yet although the United States banned slavery with passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865, the practice of slavery has not ended. Across the globe, millions of humans are held against their will, made to work for the profit and gain of others. Through forced labor, involuntary servitude, and myriad forms of human trafficking an estimated 27-40 million persons endure some form of slavery today—a number which is likely to increase with climate-change, growing wealth disparity, escalating organized crime, and mounting unemployment due to the global rise in automation and artificial intelligence.
To distinguish today’s slavery from its predecessors, we call all forms of modern slavery The Third Slavery. Doing so denotes slavery’s evolution and durability.
Read more here.