As a Black man, stories like this are painful but necessary to watch and witness. The murder, rape, and kidnap of ten of millions of people from Africa, coupled with the untold millions who did not survive the journey of horrors across the Atlantic, added to the centuries of abuse, exploitation, and dehumanization suffered by those fortunate enough to survive into slavery in the Western Hemisphere should never be forgotten.
If I forget the bondage out of which God has delivered us, then I'll never be able to fully appreciate God's faithfulness as a deliverer. Just as God instructed the children of Israel to remind themselves of God's deliverance from their bondage, I need to have some stones of remembrance as object lessons for my children to properly know God and His nature.
Additionally, there are some challenges and difficulties that my community faces that find their roots in the abuses of slavery. Today, when victims of sexual abuse or the horrors of combat seek healing, they go through processes of therapeutic debriefing in order to move past the lingering effects of those painful experiences. There are hundreds of years of unspeakable pain and abuse that have gone largely un-acknowledged in the Black community, and I believe that social inertia causes that pain and abuse to continue to manifest itself in various ways. We have to remember, and we have to mourn, as a part of God's healing process if we are to move past some of these pathologies that plague our community. May we discover, as many have experienced, that the way out indeed is back through.
As an American, I view myself as a custodian of our government and our institutions. As I ponder the many abuses and horrors of slavery, I don't look at White people with thoughts of hatred, or blame, or revenge. In the largest sense, slavery was able to exist and flourish for so long in our history because it was sanctioned by our government, which profited greatly from that great evil. In our earliest of days, if the founders of our government and its institutions had truly believed in the principles that they fought so valiantly to secure for themselves, our experiences with slavery and racism as a nation would have been drastically different. Today we are the custodians of our government and its institutions, and we need to be ever reminded of what happens when we put profit and expedience over the interests of human beings.
When individuals find themselves in the position of having offended others, the Bible tells us that there is spiritual liberty found in expeditiously approaching that brother or sister in humility, apologizing for the offense, and seeking to right the wrong. I believe that this Biblical principle has implications for institutions and societies as well, and we, the custodians of this great nation, will either be found responsible for the pursuit of spiritual liberty or culpable for the manifestations of our spiritual bondage.
Although I do identify myself as an African American man, my primary identity is that of being a Christian. I share far more in common with my brothers and sisters in Christ, both now and in eternity, than I do with those with whom I share mere ethnic or national identity. As we look at slavery and its aftermath, we have to admit that the body of Christ largely dropped the ball in representing Christ well. In fact, the body of Christ had to engage in at least two spiritually numbing exercises in order to cope with the inherent crises that arises when God's character is so violated.
First, we had to convince ourselves that this group of people are somehow less than human. One does not have to search far in the history of American Christianity to find great debates over whether Black people have souls. We can see the residual effects of the belief that other people groups are less than human throughout our society today.
Secondly, we have failed to believe Jesus as He tells us in Matthew 25 that "whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." We, as American Christians, have engaged in the spiritual goat-like tendency of arrogantly believing that God views us exceptionally as if we have earned God's favor by just being who we are. The reality, according to Scripture, is that we are saved by grace through faith, which is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast. Out of that faith fueled relationship with our Heavenly Father, we discover that our thoughts and actions increasingly resemble Christ's as we walk with Him and talk with Him and experience Him telling us that we are His own. It is indicative of a spiritual crises indeed when we feed on Christ and His Word, yet fail to grow towards Him in action. Either there's something wrong with the Nourishment, or there's something wrong with us.
These are just a few thoughts from one cat who doesn't have it all together, but feels deeply about this movie and its subject matter. Feel free to agree, or disagree, but do yourself a favor and go see this film.