The road ends, but the journey continues...

Giving Voice: people, don't stop tryin' to make a difference.


This link goes to a short excerpt of an NBC interview (it’s only 2 minutes, please click and ponder) with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967…still strikingly relevant to these times…(full interview here).

Quote symbol“White America must see that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face…America freed the slaves in 1883 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land or nothing in reality…to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of free land in the West and Midwest. Which meant there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base. And yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa – who came here involuntarily and in chains, and had worked for free here in chains for 244 years – any kind of economic base…”
Dr. Martin Luther King

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
John 8: 32

22 Comments

  1. Jim

    I would like to offer a perspective on this, if you would bear with me a few moments. I’m a white male, married to a Navajo lady for the past 38 years. I live in Denetah, “Navajoland”, what everyone else knows at the Four Corners of New Mexico. In my county, racially it’s divided essentially into thirds: white, about 33%, Hispanic, about 33%, and Native American (mostly Navajo), the rest. There are nearly no African Americans, nearly no Asians, nearly no Muslims, not enough Jews to even form a synagogue. It’s an area larger than several eastern states combined. So as you can see, discussions of race and racism take on an entirely different dynamic here than in other areas of the country. Our– my– experiences are very different than what I see in the media, social or otherwise.
    I read Dr. King’s remarks with interest; I had never thought of the black experience quite that way (being the only ethnic group brought here as slaves). It cast a new light on the subject. And then– I realized, while true that African Americans were unique in being brought here for that purpose, the existence of slavery is not confined to that community– even in North America. As it turns out, for a thousand years, Native American tribes enslaved captives from other tribes, sometimes treating them as adopted family, sometimes treating them very badly. The Sioux conquered and enslaved the Mandan and Hidatsa, as well as many Crow– this in the 19th century. And then, there was the situation in the Southwest, where Hispanic communities widely enslaved Native tribal members. During the 1840s and 1850s, at least half of the Navajo tribe was living in slavery. (My father-in-law’s clan name translates as “Red House”[rather than Red HOGAN], thus indicating a Spanish dwelling where they were most likely enslaved.) Of course, that was a two-sided coin, for the Navajo extensively raided Hispanic towns and occasionally captured inhabitants. These events were concurrent with the last days of slavery in America, so the memories are equivalent in the cultural memory of Native Americans.
    My exposure to these undercurrents began when I moved to Farmington in 1984, and it was a quick education. I learned to my dismay that there were racist attitudes on all sides around me– not pervasive, but certainly extant. I was appalled to learn a few new terms (e.g. “prairie n***ers” to describe natives). I was myself accused of being racist, because I assisted a white customer who just happened to be next in line (I informed the native lady that I didn’t appreciate the accusation and that I was married to a Navajo, which shut her up). I have been told that I needed to get off of “our” land by a Navajo coworker. My wife and her sister (they are 1/2 by blood) have heard natives tell their kids “Stay away from those WHITE people”. And then there is the odd policy with companies doing business on the reservation known as Navajo Preference, wherein if a sufficiently-qualified tribal member applies for a job, they will be selected over a more-qualified non-tribal member. Though I don’t like it, I can understand it, but this has now become interpreted by certain companies to mean, they will not hire a white person for positions on the reservation, period. No, I am not making that up. Mind you, these are the only good-paying jobs around.
    So, what am I saying with all of this? That I’m a victim? Look at me, the poor discriminated white male, I can’t find a job?
    No.
    I am saying a lot of things, but as a historian (BA) who takes the long view of events when everyone around me is taking the immediate view, let me distill down to a few observations.
    •First: that people have always been terrible to each other. Go back far enough and you will see that nearly every people group has been victimized, and that most of them have also done some victimizing themselves. Without the active working of the Spirit of God in their hearts, people basically suck.
    •Second: that in the contemporary time, things are a LOT better than they used to be, in terms of racial attitudes.
    •Third, that there are exceptions to the second observation, and unfortunately those exceptions tend to stand out.
    •Fourth, the racist “exceptions” are just that; they are NOT the norm. (And I will admit that it is the times when I have been badly treated that I remember best.) We must rise above that tendency to let our bitterness define us.
    •Fifth, that racism exists within nearly every cultural group. I’ve observed it in every single group that I interact with– white, black, native, Hispanic, Arab, (East) Indian. No single ethnicity has a monopoly on it.
    Oh, and George Floyd was totally murdered. No doubt about it.
    Final thought: There are more people bound in slavery right now than any other time in history, in the sex-trafficking market. Maybe after we’re done burning down each other’s neighborhoods, we should do something about THAT problem.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Jim! I’m glad I received this before I started my site transfer…Excellent comments. I’ve copy and pasted them into a Word doc just in case something goes wrong with the transfer…to maybe follow up with a related post on my new site. Will email you more.
      peace always

  2. Merril D. Smith

    Slavery has cast a long, terrible shadow over our history, and we’re still dealing with the fallout. Too many people are ignorant of history (and civics). I am pleased to see some dialogs taking place, and also to the retelling of the Tulsa Massacre and attention paid to Juneteenth.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Agreed. I was especially surprised at the number of people unaware of Juneteenth as a basic holiday (widely publicised decades ago!), even if not knowing its origins/significance.

  3. Andy

    We are looking at our own part in the slave trade over here,
    Statues are being taken down of notable figures who had links to it, but here the people took it into their own hands during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Having been told in the past to go through official channels, here they hauled it down and pitched it into the ideal channel, where the trader’s ships would have docked in the past.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52954994/slave-trader-statue-torn-down-in-bristol-anti-racism-protest

  4. Ally Bean

    I wonder if we’re living through a time in which we will finally see the balance that needs to happen in our society IF we are to move forward to a better, more equitable, world. I want that to happen, I pray that happens, and I try each day to make it so in my own small ways. Great post.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, true, Ms Bean. If we do what we know/can do – it all counts. I know I say that a lot on comments, but I think we need the reminder.

  5. Mary

    Good post, Laura! And nice to hear from you.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Zippy. Had to come up for air from all the techie stuff…plugging along!

  6. tierneycreates

    Yes this is something that differs African Americans with slavery roots from Immigrants (from any country). Our ancestors did not chose to come here for a better life, they were made to come here. And even when slavery ended oppression and racism continued. Yes things are much better now and I love the saying in the Black community: “I am my Ancestors’ wildest dreams” but because our older generations due to racism or oppression did not have a chance to establish economic roots, their are generations born into poverty. I was born into a middle class household and come from a long line of educators so I was very lucky that I knew to make the best of my life, even if I’ve had figuratively “doors slammed in my face” growing up in the 70s and 80s, etc. Racism continues subtly – like how many times a White woman has moved her purse when I came near in the store. I want to say: “I don’t need anything from your purse, as a matter of fact I could probably afford buy 100x what is your purse” but I just roll my eyes and walk on. It does not matter that I have my graduate degree and I am successful in my career, when I am outside my circle of those who know me I am many times treated like another person of color to be suspicious of. It is the subtle racism that many Black Americans are tired of – always looked at like we are less.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Amen & Amen.
      Thank you, Tierney for taking the time to personalize this post with your life-comments.

  7. Jill

    Thank you for sharing these important words, Laura.

  8. Jane Chesebrough

    I appreciate this post and am taking time to understand systemic racism in our country. We got a long way to go but I am willing and ready.

    • laura bruno lilly

      …a sincere affirmation, to be sure…

  9. Roseanne

    Hi Laura! Wonderful post. I have been pondering a lot lately. Especially about why slavery began in the first place. Why did something think it was okay to “own” a person??? It breaks my heart that 50 years later we still haven’t moved beyond and say enough is more than enough. Hopefully, this is that point. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      “Enough is more than enough.” Yes, Roseanne.

  10. Graciela Cunningham

    Thank you for this post.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You are more than welcome. Thank you for stopping by and pondering.

  11. L. Marie

    So powerful!!! Thank you for this, Laura! So much truth. I’ve been struggling to know what to post. So I’m grateful to you for this.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I understand completely about struggling with what to post during these times. Sometimes, when we’re too close to a situation/feeling it’s best to sit back, lean into it and let the Lord&yourself work it through. Life takes time and our internet culture doesn’t nurture that truth…
      Thank you for showing up here, L.Marie.
      hugs and prayers

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