Immigration and Slavery


Southwest / Texas 254 Views


The Overflow

By Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.


It is truly devastating to see the images and videos that have surfaced amongst the web regarding immigration. Immigration has been an issue for years and it seems as if there isn’t a solution that everyone can agree upon.

However, I think there is one thing we can agree on, and that is to not separate families no matter what the situation is. Our President should be ashamed of what is occurring, but honestly, I doubt he is. From what we have witnessed thus far, he has led us to believe that he is against immigrants considering his constant push for a wall, border control, and all of the hateful things he tweets about or says. Just to throw this in parenthetically, I have always found it amusing that his wife is not American, but yet, he shows so much hatred towards other immigrants. The irony, right?

The current issue regarding immigration and the separation of families has reminded me of what occurred during the days of slavery. If you were enslaved, you lived in fear on a day-to-day basis because of what could potentially happen to you. You could have gotten beaten, killed, or even separated from your family. Personally, I can’t imagine being separated from my family against my will and with no means to reach them. To make matters worse, if a slave was sold, there was a strong possibility that he/she would never see his/her family members ever again. Many slaves were sold to different people and even shipped or moved to another state or even out of the country. How would you feel?

I recently read an article under the National Humanities Center by Heather Andrea Williams. In this article, she addressed different reasons why slaves were separated from their families. “An enslaved person could be sold as part of an estate when his owner died, or because the owner needed to liquidate assets to pay off debts, or because the owner thought the enslaved person was a troublemaker. A father might be sold away by his owner while the mother and children remained behind, or the mother and children might be sold. Enslaved families were also divided for inheritance when an owner died, or because the owners’ adult children moved away to create new lives, taking some of the enslaved people with them.”

What happened to these families is sad, and if anything, families must stay together. It is imperative that we keep families together because separating them can be mentally damaging, especially for children. The children are innocent and do not understand everything that is occurring around them. They are the ones who suffer the most in the long run.

So, is immigration like slavery? No of course not, but there are some things occurring with immigration that occurred during slavery. For one, these people are being held against their will, just like slaves were. Second, they are being held in what appears to be fenced in areas that look like cages. 

Maybe they don’t have chains like many slaves were forced to wear, but to me, they are still being treated inhumanely, as if their lives don’t matter. Let’s not forget the separation of families. As previously discussed, many children are being separated from their families just like a lot of slaves were. Slaves were sold and shipped away, and immigrants are shipped back to where they came from. Most of all, immigrants don’t have a voice just like the slaves didn’t as people had to speak for them.

So, what can we do to help? We can’t just sit quiet. We need to be a voice for those who aren’t able to speak on their own behalf. The most important thing that we cannot do is turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings of this country. I think we’ve done that long enough. America, we can do better. America, we must do better. The beginning of change starts with you.