How much is a human life worth to you? Can it be measured in money like the car you drive or the jacket you’re wearing?
Can each individual muscle that tenses and flexes and retreats under taut, burnt skin beneath the watchful eye of the Master and African sun hold a monetary value? How much does the demise of a human soul cost; the shell of a man whose only proof of existence is the blood soaked footprint he left in the soil?
300 American dollars? Maybe 400 if he looks like he can hold his stamina?
For that matter, how much does the value of a child go for these days? How much would you sell your child for? White babies are probably safe. They’re the superior race and they probably won’t work as hard, anyway, right? So, don’t worry if you’re white. You weren’t born with those fast-twitch muscles that allow for extensive manual labor. It’s never been engraved in your malleable mind that your worth is not measured by intelligence or perseverance or grit but whatever loose paper money eagerly flaps against the call of the auctioneer’s voice.
Three hundred dollars. Three fifty. Three fifty going once. Four hundred. Four hundred sold to you, sir. Congratulations on your purchase!
Black babies don’t cry as much. They’re built for this sort of thing. The fields, I mean. Perhaps they’ve become so accustomed to horrific things that their flight-or-fight response has simply devolved into acceptance, the palpable sigh of life’s possibilities escaping their lungs and vanishing into the African desert.
Acceptance is the only thing these African black children feel anymore. Acceptance that their dad is caged and beaten. Acceptance that their mom is sold off to men to satiate their sexual needs or to merrily pose as whipping posts. Acceptance that their life, too, has already been predetermined without any say of their own –a destination of sweat-soaked men forcing their bodies into submission and doing things to their ripe, developing bodies that they neither understand nor want.
How much is that worth?
Africa is, and has been for years, facing a severe crisis of human trafficking, enslavement, rape, abuse, and gross mistreatment that seems to fly under the radar among the cacophony of Donald Trump’s tweets, Taylor Swift’s newest song, what Amazon is selling, and what new beauty products are out.
Slave auctions in Libya (a sanctuary state that promises to be the gateway land toward freedom) is anything but. Runaways from other repressed countries like Sudan and Nigeria, navigating through their own political war zones, have relinquished their homes, their families, their savings, and their souls in an attempt to escape the modern Apartheid that is rampant in Africa.
Because Libya is so close to the Mediterranean and European border, refugees go there under the false promise that locals will help aid in their escape. Only, the people who pose as salvation rescuers end up enslaving the refugees and selling them off for cheap labor.
Normal towns where people commute to work on buses. Kids playing in the streets with their bicycles. Cab drivers blaring their horns as pedestrians dart out of their way. Couples kissing goodbye as they go about their day. Against this landscape of regular, suburban-esque towns littered across Libya, you can find slave auctions in town centers.
Life continues all around them, thriving and pulsing, while their own lives slip away.
So, I ask you again… how much money is the life of a human being worth?