Is it possible to forget that you're free? That you are free to walk/drive to the store and buy gummi bears just because you feel like it? Free to watch movies with friends and complain about being out of popcorn? We are such blessed individuals in the US, all over the world too. But what gets me is that I forget. I really forget. I forget that there's a war being fought right now, that there's a roof over my head and by God's grace I have more than I need. I forget about my Black ancestors and their struggles. I forget that people, right now, aren't just starving and searching for food, but being beaten, tortured, raped and demeaned as human beings. I even forget that Jesus died to give me freedom from death by sin.
This weekend students from Campus House visited the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH. Although I knew this would be a serious trip, learning in depth about slavery, I never expected this.
When we arrived, our tour guide brought us to the section called "From Slavery to Freedom" and we found out that enslaving Africans began in the 1500s. Millions more slaves were killed than I had ever imagined. I knew many of the facts from grade school. What I didn't know is what did me in. The slave ships that brought us from our homes in chains were named things like Freedom, Grace, and the list goes on. It was unbelievable, that something so sinister could have such names for ships. I learned that every single original 13 colonies had slaves, not just the Southern states later on.
Now my family is from New Orleans and I truly believe that my ancestors were slaves. The farthest back we know of our ancestry is that my great-great-great Grandmother came Elis Island from France. She was white, but she's all we know of. It's sad to think we may never know where our families came from. But for 500 years of slavery, God saved us. It was a part of His plan as a people to go through something that would lead so many Africans to God. Later our group debriefed about the experience and one of my friends said "The slave ship names really got to me, but maybe it was foreshadowing the future." It just came to show the world how God is truly in control. And ship names like Freedom and Grace meant that Black people were receiving grace and would receive freedom through God.
Something I also learned was that a couple thousand Black people held office when slavery was first abolished. This was followed by the rise of hate groups and laws that discontinued African-Americans from running for office (such as "can't read or write, can't run in an election). The list goes on, of unbelievable things that we don't learn in school about slavery. Truthfully, minorities love talking about race, while white people are either afraid or intimidated or something that they won't speak of it. Most of my friends on this trip were White and a few of us were Black. I didn't realize until later that it was mostly the Black people and the few White people that spend most of their time with us Black people that spoke about their experience. The ones who regularly hang with us, listening to us talk about our families and our Black heritage and our hair stories, they spoke, including the pastors and church interns. The rest didn't say a word.
For me, it was an eye-opener that I need to love my heritage more than I do. I need to be more aware of being Black, while at the same time NOT taking in the pride that our Black community is used to displaying. God says to boast in nothing but Him. I love that I was born Black, even if I didn't grow up around Black people. I was born as I am for a reason and I will no longer feel like a victim but a daughter of God with a purpose.
Today, slavery has taken a major turn for the worse, if such a thing could get worse. Today, millions are secretly enslaved by means of kidnapping, parents sending their kids away, child labor and the sex industry. Men, women and children are being enslaved all over the world by people who crave control. It's such a sad thing, and truthfully it's not something we can just burst through the door and rescue everyone with. As the media talks about it, it gets worse. And its so secretive and surrounds us but we don't even know its there. How many items do you own that may have been made by a child slave somewhere in the world? Consumers and Corporate America are just as responsible as the slave drivers, for purchasing blindly. I hope that we at Purdue can start something to help God's people. I could not imagine living everyday of my life, working past exhaustion, being raped or cleaning someone's how for nothing. Nothing. We must do something.
God wants us to come back to Him. When we leave death in exchange for life, we can one day be able to fight temptation whether it be sex or control or both. Jesus wants us to take Him over everything else we want. Then, and only then, will there be no more slavery. When sin is gone, so will slavery be. And if that means the world ends before it arrives, then I just pray that we can all be a part of His kingdom, where sin & pain will be no more.
Until we meet again!