The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today

slave next doorThe Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, by Kevin Bales & Ron Soodalter

If I had to recommend just one book to read about modern day slavery in the United States, The Slave Next Door would be it! In an articulate and compelling style, the history of domestic slavery, from antebellum times to the present is traced in the first six chapters of the book. The first chapter compares the slave trade of the 1800’s with the contemporary version. Trivia: Did you know with an estimated 27 million people in some type of bondage today, there are twice as many slaves now as there were in the entire 350 year history of the Atlantic slave trade?

The following five chapters address specific arenas of modern day slavery, beginning with domestic servitude, then agricultural labor, sexual exploitation, new applications and how international slavery touches many of the decisions we make as consumers. The population of slaves in the US today is estimated at 250,000. Of those, roughly half are caught in various forms of sexual exploitation, while the other half are evenly divided into labor trafficking and domestic servitude.

The last chapters of the book look at various models for emancipation. Interestingly, most slaves in the US are freed by the action of “Good Samaritans” who acted on a hunch, calling authorities, and pursuing them, when something didn’t look quite right. I found that to be very encouraging considering the amount of time Hepzibah House operatives devote to raising awareness activities. Chapters here also address state and federal responses, inventorying successes, failures and logjams in each. The last chapter outlines very practical entry points of activism for regular mortals like you and me.