Sunday, October 23, 2005
Slavery in Detroit
Went to Detroit yesterday (Saturday) to meet with Aurora Harris . Noelle sat in the front seat with me and we talked and played tapes (I don't have a CD player yet) on the way up. Amazing woman that Aurora! We got there so late though. Aurora is a phemoninal poet and social activist. She is beautiful and driven and very accomplished. We are hoping we can connect with her on our poetry/technology program. She and Noelle seemed to really hit it off. Noelle and I were both very juiced up after talking and planning with Aurora. Aurora works with her partner Chazz Miller. He is director and she is co-director of Public Art Workz . Aurora does so many things she must have a twin.
Also saw the Charles M. Wright African American History Museum . Noelle cried her way through the life size replica of the bottom of a slave ship with slaves in shackles lined up and crammed together like livestock in a shoot on their way to slaughter. We saw a slave being branded like a cow. We saw a slave woman on a ship strung upside down about to be whipped by a laughing white man.
If slaves got sick the slavers could still be paid if they threw them over board but could not get paid for delivering sick, diseased slaves. We read that in shackles slaves couldn't move and had to throw up, urinate, defecate in the ship's belly and lie in it. It said that the ships stank so badly that one could smell the ships from miles away and that once a slave ship always a slave ship because that is all those ships would be good for there after.
We saw the Elmina slave castle which still stands in Ghana on the coast. I remembered being there and this group asking me to take a photo of them as they stood on the drawbridge. Their faces were a mix of oblivous joy from some, anger from others, sadness from yet other quarters of the group and then there were people who knew they should be angry and so tried to look appropriately. The group was a church group I believe made up of both Black and White folk.
I wondered what the white people going through the exhibition in Detroit thought. Previlaged white kids completing homework assignments held their papers up on the walls taking notes. A middle aged white woman met my eyes but quickly averted hers. I smiled a little trying to make her feel at ease and trying to give here the benefit of the doubt for at least being there.
Most of the white folk I talk with about this, no matter how liberal, rebelliously contend with that guilty paternal attitude that they have... you know the one I'm talking about, "I never owned any slaves!" They are so willing and able to over look the fact that they benefit from it and do nothing to change the status quo and would probably fight tooth and nail if there was ever a serious challenge to their melanin deficient previlage. As it is their passive agressiveness strike many mighty blows. Especially in the 216.
Took Fred up too. He had a good time and rarely thought of "bitch". My words not his. I'm sorry for thinking that and I thought if I just said it I would get it out of my system. The more I pay attention to her though the more she is like Lydia, whom I hate. I haven't prayed for her, that is Ethel, recently and when I don't pray for her and remember I am/we are no better I let myself get angry.
O.K. of course that didn't get it out of my system. I will pray for her. Father in the name of Jesus put your protective sprit around her right now. Through your Holy Spirit soften her heart and mine too. Surround her with your servants to be her guide to you. Forgive me that I couldn't /didn't over the years pray for her as much as I could have. Love her as much as I could have. Forgive her in light of the things you have forgiven me of... that are much worse than what I know of her. You are willing that none be destroyed. Help me to accomplish your will in me and through me. Forgive me In the name of Jesus amen. . I know I have to face my heart and God's word concerning Lydia... sooner rather than later.
Detroit also has artist activist Tyree Guyton and the Heidelberg Project . <-click there and see for yourself.