Talking About Slavery & Making People Uncomfortable

There are things we don’t like to talk about because they are unpleasant. Channeling my inner Scarlet O’Hara, I could easily think about other things and be done with it.

But I was among the white children taught that:

  • People were “good to their slaves.”
  • Masters brought eternal salvation to their slaves by teaching them Christianity.
  • Slaves possibly liked being enslaved.

Yes, I admit before you and God that I believed such things and wanted to believe such things.  But, in the ongoing project of educating myself about this sickest of sins in my ancestral and our national history, it strikes me as an unequivocal duty to learn all I can about those years when my country and my own ancestors thought it was okay to own other people. And my owning them, I mean:

  • Utterly taking away the agency of certain children of God by naming them, selling their children, keeping them from establishing families, deciding who will learn to read and who won’t, keeping them in sub-standard housing, chaining them, and punishing them for real or imagined infractions.
  • Perpetuating a system that chose money over humanity, fear over faith, and injust incarceration that continues to this day.

Sorry to be so heavy on a lovely Friday morning, but this is important if we are ever to understand how we got to the place in our beloved United States where African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of Whites and it’s necessary to have an organization called Black Lives Matter – as if somebody thinks that Black lives don’t matter.  Heads up:  Black lives do not matter for many people in the United States of America, or at least they don’t matter as much as White lives.

So, I’m trying to educate myself.

I’m planning my own personal slavery education tour and I consider it a necessary part of my spiritual journey.  I am trying to figure out impactful ways to lament, not so that I can tell anyone else to do it or how to do it, but so I can then step up and do something beside feel deeply sorry that something happened in the history of this great nation, and it continues to happen on my watch.  I have to do this.

Anybody out there want to talk with me about addressing slavery?

Image of Sarah Gudger who was a slave near Asheville, NC.  You can read her story here.  Also, I’m headed to Mississippi for this first time this weekend and look forward to spending time with many  people who are also grappling with this like here.  

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One response to “Talking About Slavery & Making People Uncomfortable

  1. Just wanted to let you know that my Book Club here at LWVA will be reading Waking Up White and I will lead the discussion on it at our April meeting when we get back from Florida. I will check out your videos (which I’ve bookmarked) as I prepare for that.

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