Effects of Slavery on Disparities in The United States of America

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Inequality and Slavery in the United States

In the United States of America, slavery is believed to have contributed to the major disparities that exist between the whites and the former slaves in terms of economic power, opportunities, and general accessibility to resources. It is evident that in areas which had a huge population of slaves are not poor per se but there exist huge disparities in various walks of life. Slavery did not affect the American economy in terms of overall per-capita income but it led income inequalities.

The Impact of Slavery

Slavery was rampant in the United States of America, and there were more than four million slaves who were mostly from Africa. Most of the slaves were mainly brought in to work in farms and as such they most of the slaves were forcibly settled in the southern parts of the United States where most of the farming took place. Slavery was carried out in inhumane ways in that the slaves were continuously tortured and denied various human rights. Women were sexually abused while the men were subjected to unreasonable laws that were meant to ensure that their destiny was wired towards slavery. Slavery was beneficial to the slave owners as their main source of cheap labor and therefore their profit margins were great to that effect. In this paper, we are going to address the relationship between slavery and disparities, especially in the United States of America.

The Relationship between Slavery and Disparities

To determine how slavery has influenced inequality trends in the United States of America, we can use three bases which are land inequality, racial discrimination, and human capital transmission. These three items are connected to economic activities and as such, they can assist by giving as a picture of how slavery brought in the issues of inequality, especially between the white people and the former slaves who are in most cases black (Hanks et al.). The initial relationship between the white people and the black people was a master-servant relationship, and as such, the white people seem not have woken up from the fact that the black people have the same ability and capacity as them in each and every aspect of life, and therefore they should be accorded the same treatment and opportunities. In the United States, the black people, being the minority, have continued to experience marginalization despite numerous spirited fights to achieve an equal society.

Land Inequality

Land is an important factor of production and, therefore, the issue of having it or not having access to it plays a big role in determining the economic stability and ability. After slavery was abolished in the United States, most of the freed slaves were left in desperation and unattached since as slaves they did not own anything. There were others who benefited from the confusion that was brought about by the civil wars that played a big role in ending slavery, and they took over some of the pieces of land that had been left by their former masters but they faced opposition from the whites. There were also others who opted to take the whites' land based on agreed terms that they would share their produce with the owners of the land. In general, even in the post-slavery period, the white people continued to enjoy the advantage of having access to land, and this gave them the opportunity to continue manipulating the poor freed slaves. The white people even went to the extent of developing and implementing laws that disadvantaged the black people when it came to matters of land ownership and other important aspects of life such as education, access to political offices, and essential legal services.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination has been and still is a big problem in the United States of America and has been used to put down African Americans. In the beginning of the post-slavery period, the aspect of ensuring that there is no equality between the two races was employed in the governance policies, and therefore, the black people were disadvantaged in all areas. For example, the black people were only allowed to attend segregated schools, which in many cases did not have qualified teachers and as such, they did not receive good education that would enable them to get enough exposure and understanding of their new environment outside slavery. Poor education also denied the black people the opportunity to establish themselves economically. Slavery also contributed to inequality at places of work in that for the same job, the white people were paid more than their black counterparts, creating a racial wage gap that affected the former slaves' economic abilities and status. Under the human capital transmission, it is explained that slavery continued to negatively influence and impact on the human capital accumulation of the black people, especially through a persistent racial gap in education.

Persistent Inequality

The effects of slavery continue to be experienced in the United States of America even today, especially in areas that are inhabited by black people. In such areas, poverty is abundant due to poor education and lack of opportunities in the formal employment space, which offer better remuneration. The black people also face hardships and bottlenecks when it comes to their efforts to get better payments, which are in line with their education level and experience as it is the case with the white people. The freed slaves were in many cases unable to attend schools or could barely attend, and those who committed to gaining education were subjected to a low-quality education system that did not allow them to access the various opportunities that were available. The education system that was offered to the blacks did not allow them to compete with their former masters, and therefore, they continued to experience exploitation from their former colonial masters.

The effects of slavery continue to be visible even today, many years after it was abolished. The white people have continued to look down upon black people based on the past relationship during slavery. The black people in America have endured various forms of discrimination in terms of segregation and violence, and this has hindered or blocked their efforts to establish themselves in their new life outside slavery.


Slavery has continued to exert its influence on the American society in that there are visible disparities that can directly be connected with the past. Today, there are also cases of bold racism where the black people experience victimization on the basis of their skin color. All these have contributed to inequality in nearly all sectors of the American society.


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            Source Citation (MLA 8th Edition)

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. Generic NL Freebook Publisher. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1086059&site=ehost-live.

            Accessed 19 Nov. 2018:

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. Generic NL Freebook Publisher. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1086059&site=ehost-live. Accessed 19 Nov. 2018.

November 13, 2023

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