I was walking into work this morning. Behind me to my left were two white men, mid 40’s or 50’s. One rolling a suitcase with his overnight bag resting on top. The other walking beside him carrying nothing. Their conversation went something like this:
Suitcase guy: “My wife and I had driven to a conference to see a part of the country we hadn’t seen before, Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia. I had to wonder how those women that worked in those gas stations that have the booth, how their lives looked like.”
Empty-handed guy: <Sound of acknowledgment>
Suitcase guy: “I guess they’re happy, but they were obviously lower middle class. Most of them weren’t white either. they were mostly black or Hispanic women and some black men”.
Empty-handed guy: <Another sound of acknowledgment followed by some statement that I didn’t quite get about the statement Suitcase guy just made>
Suitcase guy: “I haven’t given it that much thought since it’s different in Michigan”, was the last thing I heard before our paths diverged.
As far as I’m concerned, the only difference between Michigan and Ohio, who share a common border, are their football teams (Buckeyes rule … I know because I went to The Ohio State University many years ago). The people are pretty much the same across the state line … if you discount things like color, money, politics, factories, farming, drinkable water … (rolling my eyes as I type).
As I prepare for my UCC SC2ER training tonight, I think about the beginning of civilization and our common African ancestry. I think about the riches of Biblical Kush (today’s Ethiopia), which could have encompassed “the modern territory of the [entire] continent of Africa” (Adamo, 2001, p. 34), and their Greco-Roman neighbors across the Mediterranean. And I wonder what if? What if this much larger Africa had been able to retain its gold, copper, timber and other tangible it possessed pre-Colonialism (Miller, 1885)? What if, instead of European Colonialism, the United States had African Colonization? How would that same conversation play out?
Suitcase guy: “Oh, I haven’t given it that much thought, since they were only white people”.
You and I could have easily been the enslaved field workers forced from our land, beaten, sold, abused, murdered, raped, tortured and still falsely accused and falsely imprisoned today. We could have been treated like we have treated others.
So how does it look to you now … across the great divide?
Adamo, D. T. (2001). Africa and the Africans in the Old Testament. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Miller, D. (1995). 2000 years of indigenous mining and metallurgy in southern Africa – A review. South African Journal of Geology, 98(2).