Devotion: The Yoke of Invisible Slavery

Devotion: The Yoke of Invisible Slavery

Scripture Reference

John 8:31-38 NLT

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

Slavery is a terminology that creates discomfort in conversations because it represents one of the worst atrocities a human life can undergo. It is easier to deny or be hush about it. Openly acknowledging that the human mind is capable of manufacturing an ideology to oppress and detain, mistreat and dehumanize another human being can be difficult for the mind to wrap around. Yet Jesus was not afraid to address slavery head on.

Jesus reveals the type of mentality we should have towards sin which is detest, avoid and conquer it. Sin is a master that loves slaves. There is nothing good that comes out of it. It will seduce, manipulate, use, and deplete you. And just when you think you are done, it will create a small sense of relief to trick you into thinking you are okay, only for you to succumb to another cycle that keeps going on and on.

It is easy to look at slavery from the perspective of what you know from history. However, there is a yoke of slavery that lurks every day in your life and that yoke is sin. Jesus desires for you to be free and live with no fear.

Have you been battling something that keeps making you sin over and over again? Are you accustomed to it to the point of not desiring to seek freedom? You have to win in the mind and believe that you can be free and stay free. It is not by your might, but through Jesus Christ.

You deserve to see what a life of freedom looks and feels like. There is no human you will ever meet who loves and prays for slavery. So why should you accept sin as your master when you have the option of freedom? Jesus is able free you and shares tools through His Word on how to stay free. Release yourself from the yoke of sin, and step into the freedom that God desires for you.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

I want to be free, I desire to live a life of freedom. Give me a mindset that does not desire to sin, but desires to obey you willingly. Inspire me to believe that I can be whole and live a life that is pleasing you. Surround me with people who love freedom in you, and hold me accountable to live a life that establishes a legacy that I was your child, and I lived a life of wholeness, purity and divine freedom. I desire this blessing,

 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

How 18th-century Quakers led a boycott of sugar to protest against slavery

How 18th-century Quakers led a boycott of sugar to protest against slavery

English Quakers on a Barbados plantation. Image courtesy of New York Public Library
Julie L. Holcomb, Baylor University

Buying items that are fair trade, organic, locally made or cruelty-free are some of the ways in which consumers today seek to align their economic habits with their spiritual and ethical views. For 18th-century Quakers, it led them to abstain from sugar and other goods produced by enslaved people.

Quaker Benjamin Lay, a former sailor who had settled in Philadelphia in 1731 after living in the British sugar colony of Barbados, is known to have smashed his wife’s china in 1742 during the annual gathering of Quakers in the city. Although Lay’s actions were described by one newspaper as a “publick Testimony against the Vanity of Tea-drinking,” Lay also protested the consumption of slave-grown sugar, which was produced under horrific conditions in sugar colonies like Barbados.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, only a few Quakers protested African slavery. Indeed, individual Quakers who did protest, like Lay, were often disowned for their actions because their activism disrupted the unity of the Quaker community. Beginning in the 1750s, Quakers’ support for slavery and the products of slave labor started to erode, as reformers like Quaker John Woolman urged their co-religionists in the North American Colonies and England to bring about change.

In the 1780s, British and American Quakers launched an extensive and unprecedented propaganda campaign against slavery and slave-labor products. Their goal of creating a broad nondenominational antislavery movement culminated in a boycott of slave-grown sugar in 1791 supported by nearly a half-million Britons.

How did the movement against slave-grown sugar go from the actions of a few to a protest of the masses? As a scholar of Quakers and the antislavery movement, I argue in my book “Moral Commerce: Quakers and the Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy” that the boycott of slave-grown sugar originated in the actions of ordinary Quakers seeking to draw closer to God by aligning their Christian principles with their economic practices.

The golden rule

Quakerism originated in the political turmoil of the English civil war and the disruption of monarchical rule in the mid-17th century. In the 1640s, George Fox, the son of a weaver, began an extended period of spiritual wandering, which led him to conclude the answers he sought came not from church teaching or the Scriptures but rather from his direct experience of God.

In his travels, Fox encountered others who also sought a more direct experience of God. With the support of Margaret Fell, the wife of a wealthy and prominent judge, Fox organized his followers into the Society of Friends in 1652. Quaker itinerant ministers embarked on an ambitious program of mission work traveling throughout England, the North American Colonies and the Caribbean.

The restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 and the passage of the Quaker Act in 1662 brought religious persecution, physical punishment and imprisonment but did not dampen the religious enthusiasm of Quakers like Fox and Fell.

Quakers believe that God speaks to individuals personally and directly through the “inward light” – that the light of Christ exists within all individuals, even those who have not been exposed to Christianity. As Quaker historian and theologian Ben Pink Dandelion notes, “This intimacy with Christ, this relationship of direct revelation, is alone foundational and definitional of [Quakerism]. … Quakerism has had its identity constructed around this experience and insight.”

This experience of intimacy with Christ led Friends to develop distinct spiritual beliefs and practices, such as an emphasis on the golden rule – “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” – as a fundamental guiding principle.

Quakers were to avoid violence and war-making and to reject social customs that reinforced superficial distinctions of social class. Quakers were to adopt “plain dress, plain speech and plain living” and to tell the truth at all times. These beliefs and practices allow Quakers to emphasize the experience of God and to reject the temptations of worldly pleasures.

Stolen goods

In slave traders’ and slave holders’ minds, racial inferiority justified the enslavement of Africans. By the 18th century, the slave trade and the use of slave labor were integral parts of the global economy.

Many Quakers owned slaves and participated in the slave trade. For them, the slave trade and slavery were simply standard business practice: “God-fearing men going about their godless business,” as historian James Walvin observed.

Still, Quakers were far from united in their views about slavery. Beginning in the late 17th century, individual Quakers began to question the practice. Under slavery, Africans were captured, forced to work and subjected to violent punishment, even death, all contrary to Quakers’ belief in the golden rule and nonviolence.

Individual Quakers began to speak out, often linking the enslavement of Africans to the consumption of consumer goods.

John Hepburn, a Quaker from Middletown, New Jersey, was one of the first Quakers to protest against slavery. In 1714, he published “The American Defence of the Christian Golden Rule,” which cataloged, as no other Quaker had done, the evils of slavery.

Although the publication of Hepburn’s book coincided with statements issued by the London Yearly Meeting, the primary Quaker body in this period, warning of the effects of luxury goods on Quakers’ relationship with God, “The American Defence” did not result in any significant outcry among Quakers against slavery.

A portrait of man with a white beard, wearing a hat and a long coat.
Portrait of Benjamin Lay. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society

Quaker Benjamin Lay also published his thoughts about slavery. He also refused to dine with slaveholders, to be served by slaves or to eat sugar. Lay also dressed in coarse clothes. When smashing his wife’s dishware, he claimed that fine clothes and china were luxury goods that separated Quakers from God. Lay’s actions proved too much for Philadelphia Quakers, who disowned him in the late 1730s.

Quaker antislavery and sugar

Like Lay, Woolman too was shocked when he saw the conditions of enslaved people. For Woolman, the slave trade, the enslavement of Africans and the use of the products of their labor, such as sugar, were the most visible signs of the growth of an oppressive, global economy driven by greed, an evil that threatened the spiritual welfare of all. Consumed most often in tea, sugar symbolized for Woolman the corrupting influence of consumer goods. Soon after his travels through the South, Woolman, who was a merchant, stopped selling and consuming sugar and sugar products such as rum and molasses.

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The sweetness of sugar hid the violence of its production. Caribbean sugar plantations were infamous for their high rate of mortality and deficiencies in diet, shelter and clothing. The working conditions were brutal, and tropical disease contributed to a death toll that was 50% higher on sugar plantations than on coffee plantations.

Until his death in 1772, Woolman worked within the structure of the Society of Friends, urging Quakers to abstain from slave-grown sugar and other slave-labor products. In his writings, Woolman envisioned a just and simple economy that benefited everyone, freeing men and women to “walk in that pure light in which all their works are wrought in God.” If Quakers allowed their spiritual beliefs to guide their economic habits, Woolman believed, the “true harmony of life” could be restored to all.

Eighteenth-century Quakers’ attempts to align religious beliefs and economic habits continued into the 19th century. Woolman, in particular, influenced many who believed it possible to create a moral economy. His journal, published in 1774, is an important text about religiously informed consumer habits.

In the 1790s and again in the 1820s, British consumers, Quaker and non-Quaker alike, organized popular boycotts of slave-grown sugar. Although the boycott of sugar and other products of slave labor did not bring about the abolition of slavery on its own, the boycott did raise awareness of the connections between an individual’s relationship with God and the choices they made in the marketplace.


This article is part of a series examining sugar’s effects on human health and culture. Click here to read the articles on TheConversation.com.The Conversation

Julie L. Holcomb, Associate Professor of Museum Studies, Baylor University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

An Innovative and Interactive Way to Learn Black History

An Innovative and Interactive Way to Learn Black History

Black History 365 includes originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. This snippet of video is from a webcast about the project.


Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., remembers the shame he felt back in elementary school when his teacher announced to the class that they were going to learn about Black history and then started with slavery. He said he wanted to hide under the table. But later when he returned home that night, he also remembers the impact his parents had on his spirit when they explained that African Americans are descendants of ancient kings and queens. Dr. Milton and his partner, Dr. Joel Freeman, want other children to have that same impactful, eye-opening experience about Black history and that’s why they created the Black History 365 education curriculum.

“We want to give the students this whole experience about the Moors, the hunting, fishing, gathering, agriculture, all these different aspects how the civilizations began throughout ancient Africa,” said Dr. Freeman, who has included his personal photo collection of artifacts from Africa in the curriculum. “So, there’s images from the collection, where I’ve had people of African descent say, ‘Wow, I almost feel like I’m in that picture. I see my ancestors. I see myself there.’”

Both Milton and Freeman have strong educational and professional bonafides to take on a mission of bringing Black history to life in an innovative and technological way that will capture the heart and spirit of a new generation. Milton served as a school superintendent for twelve years in the states of New York, Michigan, and Illinois, and he taught at several universities across the United States. He’s also published several books addressing issues related to Black parents, schools, and education. Freeman served as player development mentor and character coach for the Washington Bullets/Wizards For 20 NBA seasons. He has also worked with the Association of International Schools for Africa (AISA), traveling extensively throughout the continent of Africa and conducting a number of training events for educators, government, and business leaders. Genuine documents and artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s personal collection have been showcased in exhibitions at the United Nations, White House, and Clinton Presidential Library.

“I met Joel when I was a superintendent back in Springfield, Illinois,” said Milton, adding that a friend of his insisted that he’d have a lot to talk about with the historian, who he called a “brother, but not a brother.” Milton was perplexed. “He’s a white guy? I said, okay, a white guy with Black history. No problem. So Joel and I met each other and the rest is history. He was one of the first persons that I called to start this project,” said Milton.


A Peek Inside Black History 365


When you first see the Black History 365 curriculum book, it looks like any other textbook. But take a peek inside and that’s where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s collection are sprinkled throughout the beautifully designed schoolbook, which begins with a chapter on Ancient Africa and ends with George Floyd. Students can scan QR codes with their smart phones that lead to originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. Cates has a doctorate in education and through his own educational program called Bridging Da Gap, he has produced more than 600 songs for K-12 grade levels. The music is meant to engage listeners, but the QR codes also link to relevant people and places related to the subject matter. The eBook version of the book will have music and videos embedded right in it, no WIFI needed. An app is in development, too, as a way to integrate current events.

“Everyone around the country who downloads the app will get a spritz of information every morning. And then it creates this technological ecosystem where a teacher can start a class with that,” said Dr. Freeman. “Hey guys, what did you think about what you saw this morning…at the dinner table…in the grocery store? Whatever it might be, it can be sparked with these conversations.”

That said, the opportunity to bring in conversations is already a staple in the book. The “Elephant Experience” is a sidebar area to the core content of the text. It represents an opportunity to talk about hot topics that are often not so easy to discuss. In other words, the “elephant in the room.” The co-founders wanted to provide a resource that would invite students, educators, parents, and anyone else who engages with the material to become critical thinkers, compassionate listeners, fact-based and respectful communicators, and action-oriented people with solutions.

“One of the things we wanted to do with this elephant experience is deal with topics like three fifths of the human being and reparations. What about tearing down statues? And are we in a post-racial society since we had a Black president for two terms? Did Africans sell Africans into slavery? Topics that people butt heads about or talk past each other or just unfriend each other on Facebook,” said Dr. Freeman.

The Black History 365 project has expanded beyond the talents of Dr. Milton, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Cates. The team now includes 30 additional expert educators, trainers, and instructors. Learn more at BlackHistory365education.com.

An Innovative and Interactive Way to Learn Black History

An Innovative and Interactive Way to Learn Black History

Black History 365 includes originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. This snippet of video is from a webcast about the project.


Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., remembers the shame he felt back in elementary school when his teacher announced to the class that they were going to learn about Black history and then started with slavery. He said he wanted to hide under the table. But later when he returned home that night, he also remembers the impact his parents had on his spirit when they explained that African Americans are descendants of ancient kings and queens. Dr. Milton and his partner, Dr. Joel Freeman, want other children to have that same impactful, eye-opening experience about Black history and that’s why they created the Black History 365 education curriculum.

“We want to give the students this whole experience about the Moors, the hunting, fishing, gathering, agriculture, all these different aspects how the civilizations began throughout ancient Africa,” said Dr. Freeman, who has included his personal photo collection of artifacts from Africa in the curriculum. “So, there’s images from the collection, where I’ve had people of African descent say, ‘Wow, I almost feel like I’m in that picture. I see my ancestors. I see myself there.’”

Both Milton and Freeman have strong educational and professional bonafides to take on a mission of bringing Black history to life in an innovative and technological way that will capture the heart and spirit of a new generation. Milton served as a school superintendent for twelve years in the states of New York, Michigan, and Illinois, and he taught at several universities across the United States. He’s also published several books addressing issues related to Black parents, schools, and education. Freeman served as player development mentor and character coach for the Washington Bullets/Wizards For 20 NBA seasons. He has also worked with the Association of International Schools for Africa (AISA), traveling extensively throughout the continent of Africa and conducting a number of training events for educators, government, and business leaders. Genuine documents and artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s personal collection have been showcased in exhibitions at the United Nations, White House, and Clinton Presidential Library.

“I met Joel when I was a superintendent back in Springfield, Illinois,” said Milton, adding that a friend of his insisted that he’d have a lot to talk about with the historian, who he called a “brother, but not a brother.” Milton was perplexed. “He’s a white guy? I said, okay, a white guy with Black history. No problem. So Joel and I met each other and the rest is history. He was one of the first persons that I called to start this project,” said Milton.


A Peek Inside Black History 365


When you first see the Black History 365 history curriculum book, it looks like any other textbook. But take a peek inside and that’s where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s collection are sprinkled throughout the beautifully designed schoolbook, which begins with a chapter on Ancient Africa and ends with George Floyd. Students can scan QR codes with their smart phones that lead to originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. Cates has a doctorate in education and through his own educational program called Bridging Da Gap, he has produced more than 600 songs for K-12 grade levels. The music is meant to engage listeners, but the QR codes also link to relevant people and places related to the subject matter. The eBook version of the book will have music and videos embedded right in it, no WIFI needed. An app is in development, too, as a way to integrate current events.

“Everyone around the country who downloads the app will get a spritz of information every morning. And then it creates this technological ecosystem where a teacher can start a class with that,” said Dr. Freeman. “Hey guys, what did you think about what you saw this morning…at the dinner table…in the grocery store? Whatever it might be, it can be sparked with these conversations.”

That said, the opportunity to bring in conversations is already a staple in the book. The “Elephant Experience” is a sidebar area to the core content of the text. It represents an opportunity to talk about hot topics that are often not so easy to discuss. In other words, the “elephant in the room.” The co-founders wanted to provide a resource that would invite students, educators, parents, and anyone else who engages with the material to become critical thinkers, compassionate listeners, fact-based and respectful communicators, and action-oriented people with solutions.

“One of the things we wanted to do with this elephant experience is deal with topics like three fifths of the human being and reparations. What about tearing down statues? And are we in a post-racial society since we had a Black president for two terms? Did Africans sell Africans into slavery? Topics that people butt heads about or talk past each other or just unfriend each other on Facebook,” said Dr. Freeman.

The Black History 365 project has expanded beyond the talents of Dr. Milton, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Cates. The team now includes 30 additional expert educators, trainers, and instructors. Eager readers will have to wait until August to receive the curriculum, but you can pre-order it for $175 at BlackHistory365education.com.

Juneteenth: Freedom’s promise is still denied to thousands of blacks unable to make bail

Juneteenth: Freedom’s promise is still denied to thousands of blacks unable to make bail

Video Courtesy of The Root


June 19 marks Juneteenth, a celebration of the de facto end of slavery in the United States.

For hundreds of thousands of African-Americans stuck in pretrial detention – accused but not convicted of a crime, and unable to leave because of bail – that promise remains unfulfilled. And coming immediately before Father’s Day, it’s also a reminder of the loss associated with the forced separation of families.

On a very personal level, I know how this separation feels. Every Father’s Day since 2011, I’ve been reminded of the unexpected death of my dad at the age of 48. But also on a professional level, as a criminologist who has been researching mass incarceration for the past decade, I understand the disproportionate impact it’s had on African-Americans, destabilizing black families in the process.

Blacks behind bars

Juneteenth is a celebration of African-Americans’ triumph over slavery and access to freedom in the U.S., which occurred in Galveston, Texas, in June of 1865, over two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

While Juneteenth is a momentous day in U.S. history, it is important to appreciate that the civil rights and liberties promised to African-Americans have yet to be fully realized. As legal scholar Michelle Alexander forcefully explains, this is a consequence of Jim Crow laws and the proliferation of incarceration that began in the 1970s, including the increase of people placed in pretrial detention and other criminal justice policies.

There are 2.3 million people currently incarcerated in American prisons and jails – including those not convicted of any crime. Black people comprise 40 percent of them, even though they represent just 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Protesters march through Harlem in the March for Justice. Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX

Not yet guilty but not free

More troubling is the number of incarcerated individuals currently held in jail for crimes of which they have not yet been convicted.

The Prison Policy Initiative, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on mass incarceration, has reported that over a half million citizens are languishing in pretrial detention. And like most criminal justice outcomes, the burden of this disproportionately falls on minorities, especially black men and women.

In local jails alone, over 300,000 people are awaiting trial for property, drug or public order crimes. And again, these disproportionately black defendants are confined and separated from their families, friends and jobs simply because they lack the means to post cash bail – the only reason they can’t get out.

Toll on families

It should be no surprise, then, that 1 in 9 black children now has a parent behind bars, compared with the national rate of 1 in 28.

And many of these children are at an increased likelihood of experiencing physical and mental health issues, academic struggles and a range of other behavioral problems. Children of incarcerated mothers are also at heightened odds of ending up in foster care and being exposed to other traumas.

Being the partner of an incarcerated individual is another often stressful experience that also falls disproportionately on black citizens, particularly women.

Some good news

The good news is that such injustices are receiving growing attention nationwide.

Just City, a nonprofit organization working to reduce the harms of the criminal justice system, has campaigned to raise funds and promote awareness of its Memphis Community Bail Fund project for Father’s Day – in part because nearly half a million of the black men behind bars are dads.

The aim of the project is to provide both financial and legal support for defendants lacking resources to independently secure their pretrial release, with the goal of the campaign being the release of jailed fathers so that they could be with their kids for the holiday.

Bail funds similar to Just City’s have proliferated throughout the U.S.

On one hand, the multiplication of these organizations is encouraging and reason for optimism. On the other, their growth is another reminder that many of the freedoms celebrated on Juneteenth remain unrealized.

A long road continues

In cities like Detroit, where 1 in 7 adult males is under some form of correctional control in some communities, it is a monumental task to make sense of the short- and long-term impacts of incarceration for black families.

Children suffer. Parents struggle. Relationships deteriorate. And as a result, so too do so many African-American communities. Lost wages matter to families, but they also matter to communities. The lower tax base that results makes it more difficult for struggling public institutions, like schools, to progress. And with such a large share of individuals removed from some communities due to incarceration, and branded as felons upon their release, these communities lose potential voters and the political capital they carry. They are too often disenfranchised and stripped of their full power and potential.

Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of black Americans and the long, hard road they were forced to traverse to gain that freedom. But as criminologists like me have maintained time and again, the U.S. criminal justice system remains biased, albeit implicitly, against them.The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.