Slave Ships

I was reduced to tears yesterday at the local museum. Wasn’t expecting that one. We’ve been there fifty times but I’m always going at the boys’ pace. Really fast. I can get them to pause at certain things but otherwise we’re racing through, and that’s fine. Is there a better place to spend an afternoon? (My sister would say YES.)

Dave was with us so I was able to spend a minute at the Africa exhibit for the first time. I noticed a map of pre-and post-colonial Africa, and how European invaders divided the tribes into countries and left a path of destruction so horrific that the country is still reeling from it today. When I went around the corner I saw a picture of a slave ship – specifications written up with a cross-section of the ship, showing how many slaves it could pack into the boat for maximum profit. It was used to sell the boats to prospective customers. I felt nauseous.

I started to tear up when I realized the magnitude of the slave trade. It wasn’t just some bad guys and the black market. For the first time it hit me how massive it was. It was a full-fledged industry, world-wide, with businessmen giving presentations over how many humans could be stolen, bought, sold, destroyed.

My mind went to President Obama. It still seems unreal to me. Our President is African. (-American. Yes he is American and I don’t need to see his birth certificate, thankyouverymuch.) It’s like a dream. I admit we’ve come a long way in 300 years. But still I feel the need to pray that he will succeed. (Isn’t having to qualify his citizenship proof enough that there is a problem here?)

I told the boys that even in a small museum like ours, every time I go I learn something new. Yesterday’s news was that I don’t have a hummingbird nest in our nature box, I have an oriole nest. And birds and dinosaurs with bird-like hips do not have common descendants, but similar evolutionary paths. And Dave was giving me a mini-American history lesson the whole time as we discussed John Adams.

But I think this week, it is the lesson of the Africa exhibit that will stay with me.

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