Last night the city of Charleston issued a formal apology for its role in the slave trade. Among its many horrors was the forced separation of innocent children from their parents at every stage of this process from the beginning of the Middle Passage to their sale at auction blocks across what became the United States of America. All of this was perfectly legal and sanctioned by the Church.
The resolution reads in part:
WHEREAS, the institution of slavery did not just involve physical confinement and mistreatment; it also sought to suppress, if not destroy, the cultural, religious and social values of Africans by stripping Africans of their ancestral names and customs, humiliating and brutalizing them through sexual exploitation, and selling African relatives apart from one another without regard to the connection of family, a human condition universal among all peoples of the world[.]
None of this happened in a vacuum. It was made possible, in part, by the dehumanization of a specific group of people, who were believed to be inferior to white people. The cries of children ripped away from their parents counted for nothing in a culture and society rooted in white supremacy.
Have we learned nothing?