Joel & I spent the first few days of March in Savannah, Ga. He had a conference for at-risk-youth workers, and I was tagging along in hopes of warmer weather and a chance for new scenery and the opportunity to read and write uninterrupted.
The outskirts of Savannah don’t seem to have changed too much from my childhood. It still looks deeply impoverished and racially segregated. As I explored the city in the days to come, I found that to be true: race and money being the dividing line. It was an interesting backdrop to have as I read Beloved by Toni Morrison and simultaneously walked through a study on God’s heart for the poor.
Spent the evening reading – especially poignant and moving after having just walked along the port of the river where the slaving ships used to come to unload and sell their cargo. It is so eerie to stand there and imagine the line of humans, chained, the whole length of the pier, awaiting their price. I also passed by nearly a dozen statues erected in honor of white men who were acclaimed “leaders of the free world” and just one in tribute to the African Americans who spent generations enslaved and were now finally tasting freedom, truly. And beneath that statue, though 1/8 the size of the other statues, was a plea for money to pay the debt the African American Society of Georgia still owed for it. It just saddened me.
Beloved is an excellent book, though graphic and hard to stomach from time to time. But still. It certainly does not seem far removed from the truth. And it seeks to shed light on not only the pain of slavery, but the difficulty to ever really be free after having lived as another man’s possession for so long.
Another day: read for a bit in the morning, then went antiquing. It was a short lived endeavor. Completely disgusted by the amount of “antique” signs and posters and postcards depicting a black person with a dumb expression on his/her face with the words “darkie” and other less publishable references. Or antiques with large signs over them, letting you know that they are “SLAVE MADE !!!!!”… the South is seriously about 60 years behind on the civil rights movement. It feels as though it never even happened. And slave made? Are they totally unaware that we are amidst a world-wide campaign to end human trafficking and to promote fair trade products? After the third antique shop, I made the short walk back to the hotel, where I lost my breakfast.
I planned to write on what I am learning about poverty now, but feel too overwhelmed by thoughts on race and slavery. I will save that for another day. I’ve almost completed the study and perhaps it will be better to wait until its finished.