Black people in America, are victims, yet, survivors of ecclesiastical, psychological, historical, cultural, political, legislative, socioeconomic deprivation, and disenfranchisement. Early in the 18th century white culture in American branded the black body and mind with the hot iron of chattel slavery. South Carolina slave owners were permitted in accord with state statues to “castrate any enslaved African American who sought freedom by running away.” European clergy stood in solidarity with politicians and legislators in their approval of the inhuman treatment of the black man.
Baptists and Anglican clergy issued the following statement: Masters acting according to the law in castrating his slave, hath not committed any crime. Likewise, New Jersey implemented castration laws in 1706. The law read, “it is lawful to buy them, tis lawful to keep them in order, and under government; and for self-preservation, punish them to prevent further mischief that may ensue by their running away and rebelling against their master.”
An even more vivid example of the victimization of Black life in America as to do with the nephews of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. His nephews Lilburn and Isham Lewis “slowly chopped up the body of a live slave as a lesson to deter other chattel from running away. One of the nephews hacked off the feet, paused to lecture the other slaves in attendance, continued by chopping off the legs below the knees, cast these into a ferocious fire, and proceeded slowly with intermittent lectures while the victim howled in pain, with finally nothing remaining except the bodiless head, which was likewise tossed in the flames.”
And while reflection on the history of Black people in America is stained with their blood, the blood of Black people runs deep in the soil of the world. All over the world Black people are being victimized; they are victimized because of the color of their skin. The Atlantic Slave Trade in partnership with Colonialism created and even now facilitates branding the existence of Black people with the mark of exclusion.
There is a relationship between ideologies of slavery, and people of African decent, which must be acknowledged, analyzed and interpreted through historical critical lenses. The greed and inhumanity of white supremacy boar tentacles; tentacles that infected African kings and leaders with cravings for the material world.
Zora Neale Hurston, in her book Barracoon, quoting Cudjo, documents a first person account of slave trading. “De king of Dahomey (region in Nigeria), you know, he got very rich ketchin slaves.” Cudjo goes on to say, “no man kin be so strong like de woman soldiers for de Dahomey. So hey cut off de head. Some day snatch di jaw-bone while de people ain dead.” Oh Lor, Lor, Lor!”
The experience of Cudjo in Barracoon, reflects a time in world history that that gave rise to the dehumanizing of Black humanity. Thomas Jefferson; 3rd president to the United States bought and sold slaves and was a partner in creating legislation that classified Black people as less that fully human. While the African world participated in the slave trade; it was the White European who enforced anti-black ideologies that subjugated and marginalized Black people the world over.
Slavery is not exclusive to the Atlantic Slave Trade, as the Egyptians held the ancient Hebrews in slavery hundreds of years. Exodus 3:7-9 says, “The Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” And once emancipated from Egyptian slavery, the Old Testament sanctions, and issues provisions guiding slave owners in their treatment of slaves. Exodus 21:2 says, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you six years.” And Deuteronomy 15:12 says, “If a fellow Hebrew, a man or woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. And when you release him do not send him away empty-handed.”
One of the differences between biblical slavery, and the Atlantic Slave Trade is the latter targeted Black people. The Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism, and post modern vestiges of white supremacy were driven by aspirations for control and power. The desire for more money, land, material wealth, and power fueled white supremacy. These are the very things Satan tempted Jesus with. The difference being Jesus resisted Satan, and Satan left him alone.
When we shift the reflection and open ourselves to theological perspectives. We can ask the question. What are the outcomes of Satan’s motivations? Satan is set on the destruction of humanity. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion look for someone to devour.”
Satan’s goal is to have Whites, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and native Americans roam about the earth devouring one another, or existing in mindless patterns of self-destruction culminating in modern day racism, discrimination, hate and oppression.
Slavery and the destruction of Black life in American was motivated by Satan. Laws made and enforced by ideologies of white supremacy attempted to strip Black people of their humanity. It did not work, is not working and will not work; it is vanity.
The source of our humanity is God; for as creatures God breathed into us, spoke words to us, and unlike other creatures; we became human beings. The existence of humanity is evident in our ability to respond to God, and no human institution can take that away from any human being.
In conclusion, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God breather into our nostrils the breath of life and we became living beings. It was God who gave us life, who gave us humanity. And in the special revelation of Jesus Christ, God affirms our humanity.
If the historical Jesus Christ was a Black Man, (One of the earliest known portraits of Jesus is found in the Catacomb of Dormitilla in Rome. This 2nd century portrayal is that of a very dark skinned man with black hair) and his appearance is unacceptable to White Christians; it is in this we see the power of racism, and it’s enmity toward God.
Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our freedom in Christ Jesus compels us to live circumspect of external ideologies of white supremacy, and listen to the Spirit of God that speaks to our hearts and minds. For, the God we know in Jesus Christ commands us “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Reverend Stephen C. Small/Trueword Ministries