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But talking to people who are former slaveholders does remind us that exploitation cannot merely be assigned to the realm of some vague “evil” force. Thinking of those who would employ slave labor as evil villains makes the issue of forced labor seem utterly intractable in its abstraction and suggests that the problem is individual bad actors.
Slaveholders are as much a part of a society that assigned them their roles as the Kol were. Understanding the structural and cultural supports for such a system of forced labor and the way those systems encourage and perpetuate exploitation at the local level is critical if we are going to effectively address it.