I attended a museum recently that prompted me to contemplation, “Am I enslaved?” The answer was quick in coming, “Yes.” Naturally I am not the only one who is enslaved but perhaps the ways in which we qualify for slavery are overlooked. This experience unfolding in this public museum as I studied original slave documents on display for me was very touching, very telling moving me to tears.
African Americans have been enslaved. We, me, our ancestors, come from a long line of slavery. The bondage did not cease with the Emancipation Proclamation, as many individuals from all races are more than aware of. My visit to the Museum of the African Diaspora spoke to me in so many ways. I have considered myself “other” for some time. My heritage dates back to Germany as well as Africa and I have felt validated to embrace all of who I am. The white and the black not just the color of my skin. However, something about looking at the slave documents was so moving that it made me desire to embrace my roots more. Does that mean that I shun the rest of my roots? Does that make the history of my African roots in regards to slavery any more prominent to my grandmother’s experience as a German girl or young lady who resided in a concentration camp? I do not think so but for some reason I felt guilty for considering myself “other.” Then it crystalized. I am enslaved.
Society has molded our perceptions and identified us in categories that no longer fit the diversity of our beings. Yet somehow we still allow these perceptions to conform our ideals and in turn we conform to them. How many of us live on a daily basis in bondage to a stereotype? At the end of the day that is what I realized. That unconsciously I have succumbed myself to the stereotype that because the color of my skin is brown that I must classify myself as “black” despite factual information that classifies me as “other.” It is a sad reality that builds a narrative, which speaks to the after shocks of slavery and segregation. One is made to feel “proud” to be black. We are to embrace this part of us bringing history to the forefront and participating in traditions that were established long before us. Those who seem to not take pride in their color tend to be ostracized and made fun of by their own “people” as though they are not real, thus not “genuine.” Many of us have forgotten why. Why things like food, family, dance, and spirituality are so rooted in the African culture. Then the same people have forgotten why people of color chose to embrace ALL parts of who they are whether white or black. Today few African Americans are just “black.” We typically are mixed of other races whether they are known or unknown it is a rarity for an African American to be all black. An African from Africa is another point of discussion. Notwithstanding we (humans as a whole) are still enslaved.
Slavery does not have to signify race. It can signify being enslaved to our thoughts, our emotions, and our circumstances. I am sad at the realization of how I do not live freely as I should as a human but also as a Christian. There are things that I am battling that make me feel that when I fail in this specific area it is as though I have sucked back into the slavery. We should take the time to assess ourselves to decipher what we are enslaved to? Whether it is anger, grudges, disrespect, denial or all of the above and more we can approach these strongholds that promotes growth which slavery stunts. We do not have to succumb to fear or negative thoughts. I encourage everyone to rise above what we are enslaved to by being honest and by exerting a strong desire to rectify said bondage. This world has come to far, our ancestors have fought too hard for us in a free world to be in slavery. I say that delicately knowing that my readers may be in an environment, a country where they are in actuality not “Free.” I would like to give my heart out to you with love, warm thoughts, and encouragements and in the same stroke I would like to remind you that freedom is not always found in circumstances it is first found in the heart and then the mind.
Thank you for reading.
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