Friday, June 4, 2010

New Ears, New Eyes

Tonight I went to the grocery store for a few things. There was a light-skinned Daddy with a dark brown-skinned son. As I watched the child swinging on the cart, and the father beside him laughing, I thought, "That will be us." This man and son caught my eye because of their differing skin tones. Very light and very dark. As I slid into the driver's seat, I wondered if I would have noticed these two if our family was not on this journey. Remembering the laughter, I was thankful for the visual memory.

Last night, another phrase caught my ear. An older man was asking for some parental help, but the term he foolishly chose to use was asking for some "slave labor." My ears perked up, and my stomach turned. Did he really just say what I think he said?  He didn't mean it to be offensive. Honestly, I don't think he thought anything about his comment. But I did.

I've experienced the holding rooms in Ghana, Africa where the slaves were kept for weeks before being sold. The line on the wall from the human waste was nearly five feet above the floor. One 12" x 12" window provided light and air for nearly 200 people while they were kept in this dungeon. Men, women, and even children were auctioned off to the highest bidder to leave the life they knew. Only to be sold again after arriving in their destined port. Losing their life in Africa to become property - chattel -  in another country. (America was not alone in slave ownership! Many countries kept this practice!)  What a horrific piece of our past!

"Slave-labor" is an offensive term if you know the history.  The word choice is repulsive whatever your skin color.

The phrase stung as I heard it last night. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I've had such a strong reaction to such terms in the past.  My sensitivity is rising.  Is it because I will soon be the mother to a beautiful African child? One with dark skin? One whose ancestors may have been slaves themselves?  A child whose heritage will entwine with ours when we become a family?

My eyes are opening with awareness. My ears give attention fully. My mind is processing responses differently. My heart is opening with understanding more than ever before.

"See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you."  Isaiah 42:9
Blogger Templates

Blogger Templates

1 comment:

linds said...

I believe that our college mission team visited those same slave castles in Ghana. We were there for 6 weeks. Visiting them made things seem very real for me. I will pray for your journey ... one thing some of my AA friends told me (before I was ever married) was to be a VOICE. When you hear people saying racist or ignorant comments to speak up for our brothers and sisters instead of remaining quiet. I am so thankful for their words because it has really been quite eye opening and helpful. I am sure that you will notice even more stares and comments once you bring your child home ... but keep truckin on girl because being part of the change in the world is a beautiful thing. :0)