I’ve been much quieter here than I had intended when I began this journey several months ago, and I apologize for that. My husband and I have been fighting a battle with infertility, and that battle took most of my energy. Now, I’m still pretty low energy, but it’s for a glorious reason – I am pregnant.
So for now, my activities are a bit curtailed and involve a lot more things close to home and close to my couch. I miss research trips and speaking, but I’m trying to take advantage of this quiet time to learn more, to educate myself, to let myself be broken open over the history and legacy of slavery.
How I’ve Been Learning
Today, then, I want to share three experiences that have taught me a great deal in these quiet days.
- First, I attended the opening of the new exhibit at Montpelier Plantation, “The Mere Distinction of Colour.” This exhibit focuses on the stories and experiences of people who were enslaved at President James Madison’s family plantation, and it is truly beautiful. The exhibit includes stories of descendants, artifacts from where enslaved people lived and worked, and a great deal of research about the individuals and families that were enslaved. It’s WELL WORTH a visit to Virginia to see it.
- Secondly, I watched the powerful documentary Traces of the Trade, which tells the story of 10 members of the DeWolfe family, the largest slave trading family in U.S. history, as they trace the route of their family’s business in buying and selling human beings. The film is powerfully-honest, and not everyone in the film is “enlightened” all the time – but I particularly appreciated seeing each individual’s journey. Plus, Tom DeWolf, the executive director of Coming to the Table, is one of the travelers, and I take great joy in knowing that this experience was a great part of his important work of healing the legacy of slavery.
- Finally, I am absolutely committed to W. Kamau Bell’s AMAZING CNN series United Shades of America. In the series, Bell visits places in the U.S. that he doesn’t understand or wants to know more about – from the KKK (a BRAVE act for an African American man) to gentrifying Portland to, most recently, Puerto Rico. He asks hard questions and listens so well to everyone he speaks with, and since he’s a stand-up comedian, he brings truth to light with humor.
Sometimes, our days of activism and direct action have to be limited, and sometimes, that’s a very good thing because it means we do our own work in ourselves, which – of course – has to be the first work anyway.
Have you seen any of these? If so, what are your thoughts about the work that they do?
I’m finishing up a book with two other authors about racism in the Christian church, and I’m very excited about the possibility that a publisher will pick that up. I’ll share more as soon as I can.