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Connecting Race-Based Slavery To Modern-Day Imprisonment
Graham, Robert. 2005. "Reflections of a Modern-day Slave"


Abstract: Writing from prison, Robert Graham discusses the connections between the "antique" version of slavery and its present modern-day form. Graham connects his personal experience as an incarcerated Black man to the historical practice of slavery by comparing the:

  • kidnapping of Africans to the surveillance and policing of people of color communities
  • warehousing of Africans on slaveships to the jam-packed, overcrowded penal institutions of today
  • physical bondage of slaves of the past to the handcuffs and chains of current prisoners
  • destruction of slave families through sales and auctions to the forced separation and isolation of modern incarceration
  • the poverty of slaves following "emancipation" to the current release of prisoners with "absolutely nothing"
  • sale and purchase of slaves on auction blocks to the debate, negotiation, bargaining and bartering of sentences in the modern judicial system

Graham describes prisons as "emotional torture chambers" and shares his personal reflections on the psychological effects of being incarcerated.



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