Ron Soodalter, co-author (with Free the Slaves President Kevin Bales) of The Slave Next Door has posted a piece on Huffington Post, calling for support of the California Transparency in Supply Chains act. This bill would require California companies that make over $100,0000 a year to post what they are doing to ensure that slavery is kept out of their supply chain. The Slave Next Door investigates slavery within the US, and posits that slavery never really went away. The book is being released in paperback today, August 23—which just happens to coincide with the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade.
This past June, Free the Slaves, along with our partners in ATEST, endorsed this bill in a letter to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee. You can download our statement here.)
Here is Soodalter’s post from HuffPo:
In just a few days, we will commemorate the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade. Although most of us might be unaware that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade lasted some 350 years, we do tend to believe that slavery is a thing of the past — that the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment banished it forever from our shores and that America has been slavery-free ever since.
Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Most Americans are unaware of the extent to which both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens are victimized by human trafficking and various forms of slavery in our country today. And if we think that our own lives are untainted by the products of slave labor, we must think again. As Free the Slaves president Kevin Bales and I point out in the newly updated paperback edition of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (UC Press, 8/23/2010), there’s a very good chance that the clothes we wear and the food we eat have been tainted by slavery. Cotton, that symbol of bondage in the pre-Civil War South, is now being picked by slave labor on three continents, and marketed as clothing here at home. The orange juice and tomatoes we have with our burgers at lunch could very well have come from a Mexican or Guatemalan immigrant working under coercion. The rug we walk on at home could have been woven in India, Pakistan or Nepal by one of a hundred thousand child slaves, seven, eight, nine years old. Cell phones and lap tops require an element called tantalum; it comes from an ore that is mined in the Congo, often by slaves.