Serial, unpermitted marches; a die-in on a major bridge; even overnight encampment at City Hall did not get #BlackLivesMatter concerns into meetings with the Mayor/ Police Commissioner in Portland, Oregon. Instead of allowing public testimony on a secretly negotiated police contract, the City repeatedly ordered police suppression. One bone was broken; throngs were subjected to chemical weapons, nearly a dozen were arrested on 13 October 2016.
BitterSweet: Linked Through Slavery is trying an alternative form of posting. For the first time, we offer a compilation of five people’s responses to a single question. We hope you enjoy the post, give it comments, and feel inspired to respond to the next question. Note: The authors’ names are shown as they requested.
Question: Why is it important to write and talk about the US history of slavery today?
It is necessary to talk about the history of US slavery today, because without truth there can be little or no reconciliation. Some of us learned that from people in South Africa.
It helps all of us, on both sides of the color line, to talk about the truth of slavery, as experienced by the enslaved, and as experienced by the slaveholders. By taking personal responsibility for our own feelings, and sharing them, by talking and perhaps by also writing about them, we are helping to create a healing of this deep wound that still lingers in this country. By listening to each other we increase the healing. And we don’t generalize or stereotype; we speak from our own truth, one by one.
The Storytellers of BitterSweet have wide-ranging conversations and share stories on many topics, and we imagine that our readers and guest contributors will expand the exchange with new topics and themes. Our stories touch on all periods in U.S. history, from the arrival of Europeans and then of enslaved Africans in North America in the colonial period, right up to the present, and take place in regions all over the country and the globe. The characters we write about come from many walks of life, in stories of work, family life, creative endeavor and spiritual tradition. The legacy of the relationships of bondage and vastly unequal power emerges regularly and has moved many of us to take action toward justice, healing, truth-telling and peace-making. Together and separately, we are on journeys of research, learning, connection and transformation, full of surprises, joys, frustrations, fears, uncertainties and fulfillment.