Today is the International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade and I have seen not a single reference to it in the media this morning.
The United Nations proclaimed March 25 as a day to annually honor the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.
What’s that? Your ancestors didn’t have any slaves, you say. Doesn’t matter. You’re still guilty.
Slavery and the prejudice which feeds such abominable practices isn’t restricted to one race, ethnicity, culture or religion. There’s enough guilt to go around and we need once and for all to rid ourselves of the stupid opinion one human being is worth less than another on the basis of race, appearance, belief or whatever excuse we can find for separating us.
An estimated 17 million people were transported against their will and held in bondage between the 16th and 19th centuries. This violation of human rights was conducted and/or condoned by whites, blacks, Christians, Jews and Muslims (as well as agnostics and atheists).
Even the U.S. Constitution—seen as a model for documents ensuring tolerance and freedom for all—is tainted by provisions which comprised on the issue of slavery and the slave trade. Luther Martin, a delegate from Baltimore, labeled as absurd that the United States should permit states to continue “…the only branch of commerce which is unjustifiable in its nature and contrary to the rights of mankind.”
It’s economic and personal ramifications are still being felt today in countries which have abolished slavery. And, unfortunately, the practice has not been eradicated worldwide.
In his message for this year’s observance, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in part, “Slavery and slavery-like practices continue in many parts of the world. Slavery is mutating and re-emerging in modern forms, including debt bondage, the sale of children and the trafficking of women and girls for sex. Its roots lie in ignorance, intolerance and greed.”