The summer after my sophomore year of college I rode the train to Meridian, MS. I LOVE train rides, way more than someone who grew up riding the subway should. Anyhoo, one of the clearest memories of my time in Meridian was the very explicit presence of prison labor, what I call slavery.*
Fixing roads, cleaning train stations, those orange jumpsuits on Black bodies were all over contributing valuable municipal services in marked anonymity, watched over by visibly armed guards, without meaningful compensation.
So when Hillary Clinton wrote that inmates, read: slaves, cleaning the Arkansas governor’s mansion was tradition, I get that. I’ve seen the ways states and municipalities “keep down costs” by using slaves to perform essential public functions. It happens very visibly in the South, and is more concealed in the places I’ve lived.
This isn’t to say HRC is evil. This is to say the system is. And it helps me make a broader point about systems: Systems are not out there existing in the ether. They are made up of people, and strengthened or weakened by the decisions we ALL make.
Example: many states across the country collect little or no state income tax. How do things get done in those states without those funds? Just think on it.
Another Example: Pension funds invest in highly profitable companies, which include private prison companies. Not just private prisons, but health service corporations, telecom corporations etc.
Yea our daily lives are all wrapped up in this systemic travesty. Some more than others, I mean I clean my own house. Not to act holier than Hill but I made my own breakfast this morning.
I do take issue with her evident fear of the inmates though. Throwing in her experience representing criminal defendants to make her racialized (maybe I’m reading too much into this, but whatevs) fear of these people who ran her household seem less cringeworthy, does not sit well with me. And that is my main problem with the statement: her perception of those men (maybe women?) comes across much like a first hand account of Miss Ann describing her slaves.
And maybe that is the heart of my problem with Hillary, she tries so damn hard to come off as some type of liberal demigoddess when she is as contradictory and offensive as those she so vehemently claims to detest. Like accept your flaws lady! Sheesh.
And in conclusion, how free are we really when this country and we as citizens and residents rely so much upon the forced labor of the presently enslaved?
*The 13th amendment abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime so… its slavery.