The Supreme Court Of Georgia Upholds $3 Million Dollar "Life-Contract" Made Between White Billionaire and Black Man.
ATLANTA -Yet another controversial figure has divided the opinions of African Americans over what is right versus what is profitable and the limits of dignity and commerce. In the past months, Blacks have argued about cinema images and a news anchor with a simian head. And now a new issue has blown up: Voluntary Slavery.
LaShawn Baker had no idea the controversy he'd start when he applied for a job he read about in the classifieds. The ad said Thaddeus Greystone, a local Georgia billionaire was looking for a "long-term manservant."
'I thought it was a butler, you know" says Baker, 25. "When he said he was looking for a lifetime servant, I was shocked."
That was until he heard the salary. Greystone's offer was for $3 million for the life of the contract but the catch is you had to work for him for your entire natural life.
"That's slavery!" says Benjamin jealous, CEO of the NAACP. "You can't just buy a man like that and force him to work for life. This is more of that crazy Tea Party thinking, blurring the lines to go back in time."
The problem with the NAACP position is Baker isn't being forced and he's getting the money. It is not technically slavery if you pay the slave. And to further complicate matters. Baker has to address Greystone "Sir" or "Lord" which Jealous says might as well be "Massa." Also, Baker cannot "talk back" to his boss or make direct eye contact with him. He can't leave the estate for more that five hours without permission and must wear a standard uniform which includes white gloves.
Greystone, 48, calls the slavery notion ridiculous. "The boy is getting paid and handsomely. The average American makes $2 million in a lifetime. He's getting fifty percent more than that. Also, I do not beat him, abuse him or force him to have sex with strange women. He does have to dance for guests at parties but he's really good at it."
The NAACP brought a case to sever the contract. It went to the Georgia Supreme Court who upheld the contract saying there was no evidence of a violation of the 13th Amendment as Baker was not being forced to make the deal.
African Americans are sharply divided over the situation.
"I don't see nothing wrong with it," said Andrew Johnson, 32, of Chicago. "Shit that's a lot of money and we all gotta have a job. The man's making a smart move. I mean it ain't dignified but he on the hustle and gettin' money is the goal. And if a man wants to put on a dress, a monkey head or slave chains, it's his own personal business.
"I am sick to my stomach," says Corinne Watson, 41, of Florida. "White people are always trying to own black people. First it was celebrities adopting black babies all over the place now this. What is their damned problem? And what the hell is happening to Black people? It's like we're all in the Matrix. Negroes need to stop this nonsense and swallow the red pill."
Baker thinks the controversy is spawned by jealously. "These people are definitely hating on me. That one dude's name is actually jealous! They're bitter and upset about Black's position in life. I'm trying to do something about my situation. I'd rather be a paid slave than a broke inmate."
Ben Jealous sees a deeper concern. "Other black kids, filled with doubt about their future will try to sell themselves into this kind of servitude. To say nothing of the image it sets forth. It only takes one man to debase himself to set off a chain reaction.
Jealous may be right. Baker has become a viral celebrity, especially among white supremacy groups who hail him as "The Only Real African American."
The NAACP and other civil rights groups have banded together to take the case to the Supreme Court. But legal scholars say as long as it it voluntary and as long as he is being paid, it is every man's choice whether he is a slave.