Principles of slavery still at core of US’ socio-economic order: Prof. Ball

A new wave of anti-racism protests began in the US and across the world as a white police officer killed African American George Floyd by putting knee on victims’ neck for more than eight minutes.

To shed more light on the issue, Mehr News Agency reached out to Jared A Ball, a professor of communication studies at Morgan State University.

“Slavery has never been abolished and its principles (if not practice) remain at the core of this country’s social and economic order,” he highlighted

Here is the full text of the interview:


Where do you think these protests across the US will eventually lead to? Do you see any hope for a change of behavior towards African Americans?

It is always hard to say where protests like these might go. However, historical precedent would suggest that due to insufficient organization in preparation for protracted struggle and without an electoral political outlet to develop public policy solutions which will truly satisfy the underlying conditions of these protests that the outcomes will be largely symbolic. Already there have been more killings by police of Black people since the uprisings occurred and no politician has voiced a plan to redistribute national resources to Black communities, instead the leading “opponent” to Trump, Joe Biden, says he wants to increase funding to police by at least $300 million. So no, there is no evidence of meaningful changes in behavior to African America.

More Black people are imprisoned or in various stages of parole and probation than were held in bondage at the height of slavery and produce more wealth for the owners of this economy than ever under previous forms of enslavement. 

Why do you think the United States has failed to abolish the culture that has grown out of long years of slavery?

The first reason, of course, is that slavery has never been abolished and its principles (if not practice) remain at the core of this country’s social and economic order. The 13th Amendment only requires that conviction of a crime precede legal enslavement, and as many have pointed out since, capitalism is contemporary enslavement of working people with Black people most exploited still. More Black people are imprisoned or in various stages of parole and probation than were held in bondage at the height of slavery and produce more wealth for the owners of this economy than ever under previous forms of enslavement. 

3. What do you believe the world can do to help African-Americans and eliminate the structural racism in the US?

The best way to help with structural racism in the U.S. would be for those around the world to be honest about and to address their own anti-Black/anti-African attitudes. The U.S. is far from alone and we know that throughout the European, Asian, Arab and Persian worlds there is plenty of often-denied anti-Blackness and histories which look to distort, omit or diminish the role of African people in the development of world civilization and ideas. We certainly do not want focus on the U.S. to provide cover for the gross and rampant racism currently existing elsewhere. Of even greater help would be if countries around the world made this attack on structural racism substantive and material by finding ways to redistribute resources of their countries to address legacies of anti-Blackness; erase debt, provide housing, lands, healthcare, education, etc. Show the U.S. what real change looks like, beyond symbol. That would be help the struggle here.


4. European countries have kept silent on recent developments in the US despite the fact they are among the first to express worry for human rights issues in other regions, such as West Asia. What is your take on this?

Little different from what I said above. Everyone has been silent and hypocritical on this and related issues. Everyone is happy to point to another to say, “shame!” But I have been all over the world myself and even were this not true I can easily follow a wide array of news in the world to see that nowhere on the planet are African people, Black people safe, equal or in power over the resources and labor they provide others. The world is guilty.

White supremacy, anti-Blackness, capitalism and state/police violence are what drives the protests. 
5.How do you assess Trump’s response to what goes on in the US as records show his tendency towards white supremacy and many believe his tweets are fueling the protests?

The president’s response is consistent in their disregard for Black people and the poor but I do not think his tweets are fueling the protests. White supremacy, anti-Blackness, capitalism and state/police violence are what drives the protests. 

6. How can these developments affect the upcoming presidential election in the US?

The worst impact on the election created by pandemics of viruses and economic realities is that people here will be encouraged to see the Democratic Party and Joe Biden as a solution, as change, as the only option which will, unfortunately, lead us in many ways right back to where we were and were heading before. Biden and his party presided over and supported the rise of a militarized police, of expansion of war, even with Iran, the destruction of universal healthcare, an advance in surveillance and erasures of civil liberties. And yet they and he (Biden) are being re(presented) as progress and hope. Our ability to raise new questions, develop new approaches to electoral politics and how we arrange our society for the better is all going to continue to suffer as our imagination is, again, being suffocated beneath calls for “pragmatism” in the face of a nightmare second term of Trump.

Jared A. Ball is a father and husband. After that, he is a Professor of Communication Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is founder/curator of ‘imixwhatilike.org’ a multimedia hub of emancipatory journalism and revolutionary beat reporting. Ball is also author of ‘The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power’ (Palgrave, 2020).

Interview by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas