Social Injustice and the Rise of Capitalism

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Ryan Glover
4/15/2010
Social Justice and Diversity
Final Research Paper

If you ask a lot of people to define social justice you’re going to get many different definitions. Personal experiences and individual views on society play a major role in our interpretation of social justice issues. A person’s take on a particular issue may vary but the overall idea of social justice stays the same. Social justice is concerned with equal rights, in all aspects of society. The poorest to the wealthiest people in the world should all have equal opportunities. What they make of the opportunities given is a completely different story, but they still need to be readily available. Education and healthcare are just two examples of services that we as people should all have equal access to. Race, class, gender, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and geography should never be a reason why a person’s human rights are violated nor be a reason for advantage gain or an increase in opportunity availability.

Rather than dealing with one of the more obvious social justice issues like injustices in the education system or lack of healthcare in low income neighborhoods, I am going to be discussing a social injustice that has plagued our society from the time of slavery, throughout the industrial revolution, all the way up until now. Not only is it a major part of US history that goes unnoticed, its influences on society, specifically African American communities are still visible today. Black labor exploitation has been prevalent in our society since the beginning of slavery and is ultimately the backbone of capitalism and the United States economy.

Throughout the history of capitalism, there has always been some form of black labor exploitation that has enabled the white man to make gains by violating the human rights of others. Without the exploitation of black people, capitalism and the United States economy would not be what it is today.  Just as black labor exploitation helped shaped the United States economy, it also helped to shape black gender roles, stereotypes, relationships between black men and women, and also relationships between blacks and whites.

The origins of black labor exploitation in the United States of America started with colonial slavery during the seventeenth century. Africans were taken from their homeland and brought to the “New World” to work as free laborers on plantations for white owners. The slavery taking place in the “New World” was minute compared to the slavery-taking place in the Caribbean but for the purpose of this paper I am strictly going to speak about slavery in the continental US. Slavery was the ultimate violation of human rights. Not only were African slaves exploited for labor, they were sexually exploited, physically, mentally and emotionally abused and had absolutely no control over any aspect of their lives. Never mind worrying about education and healthcare, they had to worry about when their next meal would come as well as being beaten or even killed by their master. In the late eighteenth century the bill of rights were passed. None of the amendments in the original bill of rights included slaves, so according to the government, by law slaves had no rights. It wasn’t until the mid nineteenth century where slaves were freed on the accord of the emancipation proclamation. The thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments were passed giving African Americans equal rights across the board in the eye of the law. White slavery enthusiast did not take this lightly and still did everything in their will power to exploit African American for labor purposes and continued to violate their human rights.

Following the abolishment of slavery sharecropping jobs were the only jobs made available to black men as a result of the white man’s fear of job competition.  White men were fearful that black men who were once slaves would take their...
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