Were your grandparents and great grandparents and other ancestors’ slaves?
If you can answer yes to this question, your voice is so needed at this time. If your answer is no, it’s time to be quiet, listen and learn, myself included. I have not sought to understand my African American friends and their enduring strength as much as I am capable. I can be arrogant, isolated and dreamily oblivious to the pain my African American neighbors experience on a daily basis.
I have read about slavery and studied the topic for most of the four decades I’ve been alive. I’ve read well known books such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as obscure first-hand recorded accounts by men and women who were freed or escaped slavery. Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglas were three of my very first hero’s. I read every encyclopedia entry I could find about each of them, got library books, and wrote my elementary school reports about them whenever I could. I am very familiar with what happened to the African American race in the history of our great nation. For 246 years, give or take a few, our black brothers and sisters, around 6 to 7 million of them were owned by us, white people.
I know the facts. You know the facts.
This week, something shifted in my soul. My African American friend, who I’ve known for 15 years simply said, “My great grandparents were slaves.” She is only a few generations from that atrocity that leveled the moral climate of our nation. White middle-class women like myself would have owned someone like her. Someone who is a peer and as close friend. My equal.
The moral compass of that day was dictated by the notion that black people were the inferior race. Thomas Jefferson claimed science proved the fact of racial inferiority, in order for him to justify himself and his abhorrent behavior.
What are the lies we tell ourselves now?
I think that until us, the white middle class evangelicals of the USA think long and hard about the history of slavery in our nation , destruction and eradication of the Native Americans, Japanese Internment camps, and now minority children being locked in cages, we cannot logically form an opinion about our current discrimination and racism.
African Americans have been enslaved by people that look just like you, act like you and have the opinions you do
My great grandparents were not slaves, treated no better than animals, fed and watered on a daily basis, just like the farm animals they had to feed and care for.
White men could rape, beat, torture, enslave black women with no consequences. Across class lines, from the poorest of tobacco farmers to men of notoriety such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, white men used black women to procreate and further advance the prosperity of their plantations. Our hearts break when we see commercials for puppy mills. African American women were treated no better, and more thank likely worse.
When they were very rarely able to work side jobs and earn enough money to buy their own freedom, Freed black men could not claim their families as their own.
These facts, the stories written into our land are soul scars on the face of America. Are these things your fault? NO! absolutely not. Are you as a white person responsible for slavery? Absolutely not.
But recognize the Soul Scar deep on the face of North America. Notice and be a healing balm. Notice and bring all that you have to make the changes toward equality and reconciliation. The Soul Scars are the memories our land holds tight in its fist.
The heart of the gospel is not that we become perfect people. The heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is redemption. Reconciliation. Hope. And what hope we have. What joy we have. What victory we have in the name of Jesus.
Can our focus turn away from making ourselves perfect in the eyes of the world? Can our focus first draw inward as we step back a minute, dwell in the presence of God, remembering your creator… Enjoying the facilitator of your every breath. Our breath renewed, can we march onward toward bending low to raise up the trampled upon, March forward as we pray our Holy Spirit light into the darkest places.
Turn away Evangelical America. Turn away from the crowd and hear the voice of reason. You were made for such a time as this. You were made to do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. Turn away from the darkness that hides you in the shadowy world of sin and decay. March toward the light that beckons you home from there.
Repent of your sin.
Acknowledge your classism, racism and whatever other isms that bind you and walk free and light with joy and purpose. This is our only hope. One by one by one, we can make the world a little bit better by being our best selves,
What is broken can be restored. What is torn down can be built up.
Look inward, your soul is crying out for healing
Look forward to the Joy that calls you from your dark place
Look onward as your soul is rebuilt to speak light into the dark places.
Let justice roll down like a mighty river. Let righteousness flow like an ever-growing stream. Let mercy rise high on the waves of the ocean. Let praises rise high on the song of the redeemed.