Socially Speaking's Blog
The Other Side of the Tracks blog by Word Press

Eerie Resemblance of the Past

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking Commentary

March 1, 2010

By Perry Redd

I received an email the other day.  As I am currently unemployed, I receive many about job openings.  After 7 months of searching, I come to the conclusion that the conclusion that they’re all “screening tools” and employment of someone of my caliber is but an illusion…but I digress.  The email I received was for healthy compensation to become Track Workers.

When I say Track Workers, I mean railroad track workers.  The petition going across the country looks like this:

Great jobs for young men who aren’t in college, and strong young women
also! This is Obama money for “infrastructure” the jobs are located all over,
paid training in Atlanta . This is an awesome opportunity, please pass this
on. These jobs pay good wages. Let’s pass this on and pray that someone we
know is able to take advantage.


Good opportunity…Or a return to the past?  Men will flock to obtain these $19-$21/hour jobs.  The labor promises to be intensive and from what we know from history, sure to place considerable wear & tear on the body.  A recently-released book, “Slavery By Another Name” exposes an era in American history where black labor was stolen and leased out to American corporations, like the one offering these jobs here, CSX railroad.

Unlike the book, the men who’ll covet and fill these jobs are not prisoners, nor are they recently removed from slavery.  That may seem far-removed from the lot of the past, but I beg to differ.  The men of today’s Track Working candidate are equally in bondage.  You see, the unemployment rate is currently at 9.6% nationwide; but for black men, it’s more than 17%.  Many of these men who’ll apply for these jobs are of the formerly incarcerated ranks.  Will they be seriously considered?  There’re so many people unemployed, the ex-offender doesn’t have a chance.

But back to my point…getting desperate people to do your mule work, is just as bad as slavery.  In “Slavery By Another Name”, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, Douglas Blackmon, reveals the days when black men were falsely convicted, incarcerated and outsourced to American corporations—like CSX.  It appears our American history has eerily found its way back to the future.


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