Lessons from U.S. Slavery

Growing up in the South decades ago and watching Alex Haley’s Roots, I came away with an understanding of Slavery that was not abstract or theoretical, but real. As a person who was called the n-word on a few occasions by those of a different background who I thought were friends, I understood that some tensions have a long life indeed. Later, I became aware of media and historical representations of the North as liberators. At the time, the North, as a region, seemed so distant from the crass activity of debasement and seemed evolved when it came to the matter of the worth of others.

Eventually, I became aware of more details about the Civil War and saw the North as true liberators of a people truly disenfranchised. As a very young person I viewed people of the North/East and West as more welcoming in their hearts of people of a different background. The cause of tolerance and acceptance seemed to echo more loudly from those regions of the country. The distinction between the regions was a settled matter for me for many years.

A few years ago, I began to have doubts about that generalization. You live longer and, if you are lucky, you realize things are not always as they are written or portrayed through media. By that time, I had more insight into people, institutions, society, and life. I began to have a different sense about the Civil War and Slavery. An article on msn helped to clarify burgeoning thoughts.

The article, Rhode Island Church Taking Unusual Step to Illuminate Its Slavery Role, talks about the huge role the North played in perpetuating Slavery. It aligns with thoughts I’ve had about the situation and is the basis for peeling back the superficial layers in the discussion about it.

Slavery was not about Whites being superior to Blacks. Slavery was not about the growth of the Southern economy versus an industrialized North. Slavery was not about the Confederacy. All of that is evil including the rationalization about how it grew America.

Rather the whole issue boils down to one thing. The love of money, success, and power.

Slavery and the institutional racism was all about justifying the devaluing of other people in order to gain at their expense. Putting material things, fear of loss (various insecurities and vulnerabilities), and lesser causes ahead of other people.

The North wanted money, struggled to survive in the early years of the Colonies and justified slavery. As the North succeeded from that practice, it was convenient to cleanly isolate the ugliest parts of it to the far South and simply reap the fruits. The Civil War wasn’t the cause of freeing people but a disagreement over money. The removal of Slavery was the punishment. Note that slavery exists in other forms, some psychological, and now encompasses all people.

I am a Christian. I do believe Jesus Christ is consubstantial with the Father. That turns some people off and like most people who profess faith, I am among the most imperfect of practitioners. I definitely screw up from time to time. Belief is not a guarantee of action or motive. Despite that, thousands of years ago, He walked among people and shared a view of life that is the ultimate testament of the truest and highest inward nobility people can attain. You do not have to be born of or descended from a great family or have titles to be truly noble. Slavery was a failure to acknowledge that and only the reality of America as a Christian nation abridged the long duration of this practice in its worse forms.

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