Searching for Justice

A note from the author:

This project was inspired by Walter Johnson’s article, “To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice.” While I was familiar with many of the topics surrounding social injustice that we discussed in PHIL 220W, I was not yet familiar with the relationship between the issue of capitalism and social oppression beyond wage gaps. Johnson’s article combined with class discussions on racial capitalism educated me about the role of capitalism in social injustices, a connection which proved to be essential for understanding the root of injustice in America. The centrality of racial capitalism in social injustice and my lack of previous knowledge on the topic made it clear that my final project had to focus on racial capitalism and my relation to it. This project was completed during Fall 2020, when COVID left everyone feeling very isolated. During this time, I found solace in writing poetry, and so it felt only right for my thoughts on this topic to be expressed in a poem. 

Audio recording of “Searching for Justice”

The land of the free, the home of the brave 

Built by the slave. 

Where is the justice?1

The American dream 

Muffles the scream 

Of a nation built on exploitation 

Without reparation. 

Where is the justice?2

These ideas are not radical 

The enslaved produced capital, the enslaved reproduced capital, the enslaved were capital, 

The enslaved were collateral 

The cotton-filled land stolen from native peoples–this is not natural 

This is human. 

Where is the justice?

An economic system based on racial subjugation 

And not just in our “great” nation 

Capitalism–racial capitalism–capitalism built on the suffering of the enslaved 

Was strengthened by how other countries chose to behave 

Britain abolished slavery 

It took some real bravery, 

Is this justice? 4

Britain was also the largest importer of American, southern produced cotton 

Indirectly profiting from the system of slavery is participating in racial capitalism,  

We have not forgotten 

It must be said with intention 

Racial capitalism,” and pay attention 

Because this isn’t just about the past, it is happening right now. 

Where is the justice? 5

Modern neoliberalism continues racial exploitation 

Developing nations need to build wealth accumulation 

But world powers need cheap global trade 

Forcing these countries to keep their markets open, their debts never able to be repaid. 

Where is the justice?6

Countries with darker-skinned populations–the “Global South”–finally decolonized 

Forced to repay debts to world powers, they are still disenfranchised 

Global capitalism is still racial capitalism–neoliberal racial capitalism. 

Where is the justice? 7

Wake up  

The system is corrupt. 

Where is the justice?8

It’s time to understand the root of the injustice all around, and  

Bring it all down. 9


1 Living in America, I am a white, upper-class, and educated young adult

2 I grew up in a home with my own room and a fenced-in yard as the result–

3 Of hard work, a business handed down, and the absence of racial discrimination

4 I am part of a supportive Jewish family and network built after assimilating to this nation

5 My whiteness and my wealth secure me with my privilege that is easy to ignore

6 Where does privilege come from? From the systematic oppression of “others”

7 (It is easy to be blind to my privilege, but it is hard to ignore the plight of another)

8 Especially when their plight is built into the economic system I benefit from

9 Only with recognition of our positions in the system, will I see the injustice–and overcome.


  • Marlie Golden

    Marlie is a senior Philosophy, Politics, and Law major and Spanish minor at Emory and is on track to graduate in the Spring of 2023. She is from Jenkintown, a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. Marlie is the Philosophy Club president and serves on the editorial board for the JSPE. Since middle school, she has had a passion for social justice and her passion has only thoughtfully evolved since college. Golden Marlie

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