“In the hallway an Asian American woman locked eyes with me and mouthed: “Thank you.” A black man squeezed my shoulder and muttered: “Girl, if you only knew.” A black woman stopped me, looked around cautiously to make sure no one was within earshot, and then said: “You spoke the truth. I wish I could have shared my story so you’d know how true. But this was not the place.”
This was not the place. Despite the care I take in these sessions to center people of color, to keep them safe, this still was not the place. Once again, what might have been a discussion about the real, quantifiable harm being done to people of color had been subsumed by a discussion about the feelings of white people, the expectations of white people, the needs of white people.
As I stood there, gazing off into the memory of hundreds of stifled conversations about race, I was brought to attention by a white woman. She was not nervously looking around to see who might be listening. She didn’t ask if I had time to talk, though I was standing at the door.“Your session was really nice,” she started. “You said a lot of good things that will be useful to a lot of people.”She paused briefly: “But the thing is, nothing you talked about today is going to help me make more black friends.”
So what do the actual numbers of black slave owners and their slaves tell us? In 1830, the year most carefully studied by Carter G. Woodson, about 13.7 percent (319,599) of the black population was free. Of these, 3,776 free Negroes owned 12,907 slaves, out of a total of 2,009,043 slaves owned in the entire United States, so the numbers of slaves owned by black people over all was quite small by comparison with the number owned by white people. In his essay, ” ‘The Known World’ of Free Black Slaveholders,” Thomas J. Pressly, using Woodson’s statistics, calculated that 54 (or about 1 percent) of these black slave owners in 1830 owned between 20 and 84 slaves; 172 (about 4 percent) owned between 10 to 19 slaves; and 3,550 (about 94 percent) each owned between 1 and 9 slaves. Crucially, 42 percent owned just one slave.
Pressly also shows that the percentage of free black slave owners as the total number of free black heads of families was quite high in several states, namely 43 percent in South Carolina, 40 percent in Louisiana, 26 percent in Mississippi, 25 percent in Alabama and 20 percent in Georgia. So why did these free black people own these slaves?”
“That being said, we need to stop saying “people of color” in instances we mostly (and sometimes only) mean “Black people.”What I’m saying is a bit meta, but the public use of the term POC seems to have become less about solidarity, and more concerned with lessening the negative connotations and implicit anti-Black reactions (fear, scorn, disdain, apathy) to Blackness. In popular discourse, POC is often a shorthand for “this issue affects Black people most directly and disproportionately, but other non-white people are affected too, so we need to include them for people to listen and so people to understand we aren’t talking about race as only Black vs. white.”Saying POC when we mean “Black people” is this concession that there’s a need to describe a marginalized group as “less” Black for in order for people (specifically, but not only, white people) to have empathy for whatever issue being discussed.”
“For Black girls like me the transition out of childhood into a complex and ill-defined “womanhood” happens swiftly and without warning. According to a Georgetown Law study released earlier this year, Black girls are stripped of their innocence as early as the age of 5. The study, called “Girlhood Interrupted,” found that survey participants perceived that Black girls need less nurturing, protection, support, and comfort, and that Black girls are more independent and know more about adult topics, including sex. This phenomenon was dubbed “adultification” by the study authors, and they wrote that it refers to “the extent to which race and gender, taken together, influence our perception of Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers.”And sadly, America’s fraught history with race plays a role in this: The “adultification” of Black children has its roots in slavery, when Black girls and boys were treated like chattel and subjected to cruel treatment, just like their adult counterparts. And in the case of Black girls, it’s further exacerbated by the often early onset of puberty. As the study reported, “on average, African American girls mature physically at a faster rate than [w]hite girls and as a result can be perceived as older.”
Cornel West recently expressed support for the ADOS movement . . . not surprising… Martin Luther King, whom West has written about, was not a Pan-Africanist, but he clearly saw the connection between the African struggle for freedom and the African American struggle for freedom. King said:
The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”
In embracing ADOS, West is embracing the opposite of King’s vision.
This is how cults work.They gradually alter people’s brains, attuning them to a singular voice, and weaponizing them against any dissenting opinions.To their manipulated minds, efforts to reach them with objective truth become acts of aggression against the one they see as divine—and trigger an ever-more passionate affection toward their leader.They will defend (even to relational death with people they once loved) that one person.
America is in a cultic crisis, and Trumpism is the cult.There is no other way to approach these days.
Thanks to Baltimore’s Reality Speaks and Pleasant Hope Baptist Church for hosting this conversation. The full video will be coming soon from the good folks at Reality Speaks but here are excerpted audio clips which include the initial remarks by both Drs. Ray Winbush and [Dr.]Jared Ball ( OUR COMMON GROUND Voices) followed by their responses to questions and comments from the audience.
Subject of Discussion: #ADOS, Co-Founder Yvette Carnell, OUR COMMON GROUND Voice.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II with Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and other moral leaders at the US Capitol building on Jan. 9 2017, following a #MoralMarch and protest against the nomination of former Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.
Gracious, eternal, and all wise God; Thou who formed what is out of nothing and called us into being to serve You — You, O Lord, who weigh every nation in the balance of Your own standards:
Today, we acknowledge how great Thou art, the marvelous mystery of Your mercy and the excellence of Your name. Because Your Holy Spirit brings all things to remembrance, breathe on us now, that we might remember how gracious You have been to this nation we call America.
As a nation, we have our faith and frailties, strengths and shortcomings, yet You have allowed grace to be shed upon us. When we have honored Your ways and when we have fallen short, You have been a merciful God. Remind us that the history of this nation is more about Your grace than about our greatness. When we are not where we should be, let us hear and follow what You said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will I forgive their sin, and will I heal their land.”
In our land we need healing. For a land so blessed by grace, there is too much poverty, too much sickness, too many children dying, and too much war. We need a healing. A tax bill that guts government to give a windfall to the wealthiest when income inequality is greater than it has been since the Gilded Age is more than bad policy; it is a symptom of spiritual sickness and a moral malady. We need a healing in America.
In Your word You have said that those who rule the nation must be just, and if we are to please You, we must learn to do justice, care for the fatherless, support the widow, loose the bands of wickedness, pay people what they deserve, care for the sick, the homeless, and the hungry. If we are to please You, we must hope to hear you say, “For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
Trouble the soul of this nation as in the days of Amos so that no one is at ease in Zion. Use our prophetic words and our prophetic actions to remind those in the seats of power that they are not God. Trouble this nation with the voice of concern and the voice of compassion. Make us mindful of the thousands without paths to the pursuit of happiness.
Shake the foundations of our conscience until we cannot help but change our course. Move on us to study war no more. Cause us to live our lives to serve others. Teach us that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness requires justice and hope and help and caring. Expand our morality beyond the narrowness of personal piety into the broadness of public policy. Give us the strength to challenge racism, poverty, unchecked militarism, and ecological devastation.
Empower us with Your Spirit that we might be a nation unto God, not unto fear; show us again that America is only here by your grace.
Show us that grace carries responsibility — that a nation under grace must lead the world, not merely police the world. A nation under grace must care, must remember her past so that she will not be arrogant in her present. A nation under grace must bring the world together and not tear it apart. A nation under grace cannot refer to people as aliens when we all were created with one blood. A nation under grace cannot leave cities decaying and flood victims barely surviving. Grace demands something better than that. So Lord, as you stirred up dry bones in the valley, stir up hope, and stir up righteousness.
Restore the Prophets and the prophetic voices to the land. Revive the spirit of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm, Corretta, Harriet, Rosa, Cinque, Douglass, Dubois, Sojourner, Jordan, Wilkins and Bethune. Call us and challenge us again. Teach even this nation that with all our power and all our resources, we will still have to stand before Your judgment one day. Give us leaders who understand that the purpose of power and influence is to help someone. Grant us a citizenry determined to be yoked together in common humanity. Let us know the only way to a more perfect union is for our laws and policies to reflect Your kind of love.
Let faith be a conviction, not a convenience. Help us, O God, to smooth out every wrinkle in the flag of our common life until we are one nation under God, with one justice system for all, with living wages for all, with quality education for all.
Finally, O Lord, we pray that the mind of the Psalmist will be ours:
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.
Come and see the works of God: He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in Him.
He ruleth by His power for ever; His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves (Ps 66).
We thank You, O God, that Your eyes still behold the nation. We thank You that You still see injustice, You still see poverty. And because You can still see it, these things don’t have the last word. We thank You God that you still see America. You still see our leadership. You know how to bring down the high and lift up the humble. O God, we bless Your name, we lift up every voice, we declare and rejoice that You are still the God of our weary years, the God who is able to bring life out of death. Help us to know as our foreparents sang,
Time is filled with swift transition, naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hope on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
In the name of the Father who sticketh closer than a brother, watches us like a mother, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. AMEN.
Where does it hurt? That’s a question the civil rights icon Ruby Sales learned to ask during the days of that movement. It’s a question we scarcely know how to ask in public life now, but it gets at human dynamics that we are living and reckoning with. At a convening of 20 theologians seeking to re-imagine the public good of theology for this century, Ruby Sales unsettles some of what we think we know about the force of religion in civil rights history, and names a “spiritual crisis of white America” as a calling of this time.
RUBY SALES is the founder and director of the Spirit House Project. She is one of 50 African Americans to be spotlighted in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
“WHERE DOES IT HURT?”: A NATIONAL INQUIRYAnger, name-calling, and division seem to be deepening in American and global life. They are public faces of human pain and fear. But they are not the whole story of our time. As part of The Civil Conversations Project, we’re launching a national inquiry, “Where Does It Hurt?” Please join with us and take part in a new conversation in our radio and digital spaces.