Though not written, slavery WAS an institution in the U.S.


This week, I discovered an opinion piece that the New York Times posted in its Thursday web edition. The author said that racism was never established as an institution in the United States under any official governmental document—including the constitution. That’s completely accurate. However, the author argues that slavery was never an institution in the United States, period. I disagree.


I view the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century as similar to drug trades that take place today. No, they have no official representation in any political or social aspect. But, they are an “organization” that makes money. The slave trade was just that. Racist, slave-owning aristocrats demanded the work of those they deemed inferior to themselves—Africans. They spent money at auctions. Then, they never paid the workers. Their only expense was buying the slaves while they sold whatever cash crop they grew to maximize profit. It was never an institution on paper. But it was an institution nevertheless.

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