I’m touring schools here in Lafayette Louisiana and having an incredible experience. Something happened yesterday that made me pause and give an issue some thought. A young girl of about 11 years old asked me, “Have you ever been a slave?”
Now on the surface you might think the question lacks a knowledge of historical chronology but when she posed it, I quickly saw it as an opportunity. I took her inquiry as an opportunity to address a very delicate social/economic and political issue related to race.
I explained to the young girl that “technically” slavery here in North America ended in 1865, long before I was born. I then segued into an explanation of how past history affects those of us alive today by letting her, and the other 200 children present, know that I had not escaped its’ touch.
The audience looked confused. I described how there are two forms of slavery, one physical, one mental. While I had never suffered the physical cruelties of my ancestors who were enslaved, I was surely victimized psychological and spiritual by it.
Without going into much detail, the point I was able to make is that the chains of slavery may have fallen from the wrist, ankles, waist and necks of our ancestors but we are still affected today by the vestiges of what was known as “The Peculiar Institution.”
I spoke to them of the difficulty of breaking the mental chains that bound me in my youth.
As young as these children were it was reassuring to witness their affirming nods and bright understanding eyes.
I would love to go into more detail on this issue because I think there is so much more understanding needed across all socio/cultural lines of this society.
I’ve gotta get to another school. Maybe I’ll set aside some time later to write more on this topic.
Thanks for reading.