Today is the anniversary of the arrival of the Dutch ship that brought the first African slaves to America.
Most likely, I had an ancestor on that ship. I know my ancestors were Dutch and worked for the Dutch Trading Company. I love learning about my Dutch heritage, my family heritage in general. I don’t love this though. It sits heavy on my heart.
My ancestors were not southern. They did not own slaves for their plantations. I feel like they were worse. They sold human beings. By bringing this first ship to the “new world” they forever altered the course of not just this country but many African countries.
They abandoned their humanity when they chose to dehumanize others.
I’m sorry for what they did. No, I wasn’t alive then. I didn’t do it. But my family line benefitted from that ship and all of the others that followed. And I’m sorry for that.
I believe in the concept of corporate sin, the sin of systems and people who benefit from and do not work to change those systems. I believe I am guilty of these sins. Most of you know that I have struggled with my faith over the last few years. I have struggled with the church and fundamentalism and all sorts of issues. I have also questioned sin, what it is and how it can be dealt with.
I never questioned repentance, because the need to make amends is deeply imbedded in my spirit. I feel the weight of my own personal wrong actions and the weight of the injustice this world bathes in every day, whether we are discussing racist systems or world hunger.
It is so heavy.
Recently, I set a book aside and paused a podcast. My soul was screaming for a break from this year’s theme (2017: Peace and Justice). I just wanted to not carry this burden for a while, to set it down and read something fun and listen to something light-hearted and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I did take that break to some extent, and the entire time, I was aware that it is my privilege that allowed me to take a break from these things. People of Color cannot take a break from racial injustice. LGBTQ+ people cannot take a break from being judged and treated badly. I can take a break because I am straight and white.
Instead of relieving the pressure, my so-called-break convicted me to my core.
Jesus, help me use my privilege to work justice for your people, ALL OF YOUR PEOPLE, and your world. Help me to pass a different legacy to my children and all of the descendants who follow me. And when I am wrong, when I cling to my own privilege, to the systems that benefit me while hurting others, give me humility and give me grace.