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Isabel de Olvera: I Demand Justice.

In 2019, the United States of America and Ghana commemorated 400 years since Africans were brought to the United States of America in bondage. The NAACP called their commemorative trip Jamestown to Jamestown, beginning with a trip to Jamestown, Virginia and flying over to Jamestown, Accra. Ghana created a whole year of programming named Year of Return which according to Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi boosted Ghana’s economy by $1.9 billion from 200,000 visitors[i] most of whom were members of the African Diaspora. Ghana is now creating an ongoing program, Beyond the Year of Return[ii] to further capitalize on the Diaspora’s tortured need to connect to the Homeland.

On August 19, 1619 a ship pulled into Jamestown, Virginia with twenty Africans. These men and women were sold in the first British human auction in North America. Because America has a very British-centric way of retelling its history, non-British colonial stories are marginalized and framed by tales of wars with Mexicans and Native Americans.

Spain began importing enslaved Africans from the Iberian Peninsula[iii], where they were taken after capture, in 1501. In August 1518, the king of Spain authorized direct shipment of captured Africans to the Americas[iv], putting an end to Spanish human trade holdovers in Europe. This drastically increased the enslaved populations throughout the Americas.

Black women of African descent are documented in Spanish settlements throughout the present-day states of Florida, New Mexico, and California. African men and women had long accompanied European travelers to the Americas on Spanish, Portuguese, and English expeditions[v]. The Spanish city of St. Augustine, Florida is viewed as the first permanent colonial city in what is now the United States of America. It was settled with African and Native slave labor in 1565. However, Santa Fe, New Mexico was established in what was formerly known as New Spain, in 1610. It is now the oldest state capital in the United States[vi].

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In 1600, Isabel de Olvera, a free woman of African and Native descent living in Querétaro, Mexico[vii], joined a relief expedition to the recently colonized province of New Mexico. It is said she was traveling as a servant to Spanish woman. Before leaving, she spoke an affidavit to declare her free status to the mayor of Querétaro, New Spain, don Pedro Lorenzo de Castilla. She had three witnesses standing with her, a free black man, a mestiza woman (mixed race), and a black slave woman and insisted on having a copy to carry with her at all times. Isabel’s statement, intended actions, as well as her witnesses illustrate the broad presence of slavery in North America at that point in time. It also highlights the legal standing of women in Spanish colonies no matter their legal statuses and heritage – 365 years before Black Women got the federal right to vote in the United States. Spaniard’s were moving Africans and their descendants around the America’s more than one hundred years before the United States acknowledges commoditizing and trading human beings within its current borders[viii].

With the cross-cultural and competitive histories of the colonizers, it’s amazing that the expressed sentiments of a Black Woman survives to this day. Isabel’s affidavit, a legal document in the historical archives of two countries – Mexico and the United States, is the oldest recorded example found of a Black Woman speaking up for herself in North America. Though her journey began in Mexico, she deemed the document necessary for her travel to New Mexico. She demanded justice and respect for her existence, singleness, freedom and future. The confidence embedded in her statement remains empowering and inspirational centuries later.  May her character and determination lift our voices and strengthen our resolve.

I am going on the expedition to New Mexico and have some reason to fear that I may be annoyed by some individual since I am a mulatta, and it is proper to protect my rights in such an eventuality by an affidavit showing that I am a free woman, unmarried and the legitimate daughter of Hernando, a Negro, and an Indian named Magdalena . . .. I therefore request your grace to accept this affidavit, which shows that I am free and not bound by marriage or slavery. I request that a properly certified and signed copy be given to me in order to protect my rights, and that it carry full legal authority.  I demand justice.[ix]

~ Isabel de Olvera

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[i] https://travelnoire.com/lyft-driver-tells-story-viral-misunderstanding
[ii] motac.gov.gh/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=124&catid=13&Itemid=163
[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_Spanish_New_World_colonies#:~:text=In%201501%2C%20Spanish%20colonists%20began,and%20perhaps%20were%20even%20Christians.
[iv] https://www.history.com/news/transatlantic-slave-first-ships-details
[v] Nedra K Lee Chronology of Enslaved Women in America. Alford, Deleso A., and Berry, Daina Ramey. Enslaved Women in America: An Encyclopedia. United Kingdom, Greenwood, 2012.
[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe,_New_Mexico
[vii] blackpast.org/african-american-history/de-olvera-isabel/
[viii] https://www.nationalgeographic.org/interactive/slavery-united-states/
[ix] Birzer, D. (2007, January 19) Isabel de Olvera (?-?). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/de-olvera-isabel/

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ACAD – Rejected: Jeremiah 2

God Pleads with Israel to Repent

The word of the Lord came to me, saying: Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord:

I remember the devotion of your youth,
    your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
    in a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the first fruits of his harvest.
All who ate of it were held guilty;
    disaster came upon them,
says the Lord.

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.  Thus says the Lord:

What wrong did your ancestors find in me
    that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
They did not say, “Where is the Lord
    who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
    in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
    in a land that no one passes through,
    where no one lives?”
I brought you into a plentiful land
    to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
    and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
    Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers[a] transgressed against me;
    the prophets prophesied by Baal,
    and went after things that do not profit.

Therefore once more I accuse you,
says the Lord,
    and I accuse your children’s children.
Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
    send to Kedar and examine with care;
    see if there has ever been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
    even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
    for something that does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
    they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
    and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water.

Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?
    Why then has he become plunder?
The lions have roared against him,
    they have roared loudly.
They have made his land a waste;
    his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.
Moreover, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have broken the crown of your head.
Have you not brought this upon yourself
    by forsaking the Lord your God,
    while he led you in the way?
What then do you gain by going to Egypt,
    to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,
    to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
Your wickedness will punish you,
    and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
    for you to forsake the Lord your God;
    the fear of me is not in you,
says the Lord God of hosts.

For long ago you broke your yoke
    and burst your bonds,
    and you said, “I will not serve!”
On every high hill
    and under every green tree
    you sprawled and played the whore.
Yet I planted you as a choice vine,
    from the purest stock.
How then did you turn degenerate
    and become a wild vine?
Though you wash yourself with lye
    and use much soap,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,
says the Lord God.
How can you say, “I am not defiled,
    I have not gone after the Baals”?
Look at your way in the valley;
    know what you have done—
a restive young camel interlacing her tracks,
    a wild ass at home in the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
    Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
    in her month they will find her.
Keep your feet from going unshod
    and your throat from thirst.
But you said, “It is hopeless,
    for I have loved strangers,
    and after them I will go.”

As a thief is shamed when caught,
    so the house of Israel shall be shamed—
they, their kings, their officials,
    their priests, and their prophets,
who say to a tree, “You are my father,”
    and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”
For they have turned their backs to me,
    and not their faces.
But in the time of their trouble they say,
    “Come and save us!”
But where are your gods
    that you made for yourself?
Let them come, if they can save you,
    in your time of trouble;
for you have as many gods
    as you have towns, O Judah.

Why do you complain against me?
    You have all rebelled against me,
says the Lord.
In vain I have struck down your children;
    they accepted no correction.
Your own sword devoured your prophets
    like a ravening lion.
And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord![b]
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
    or a land of thick darkness?
Why then do my people say, “We are free,
    we will come to you no more”?
Can a girl forget her ornaments,
    or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number.

How well you direct your course
    to seek lovers!
So that even to wicked women
    you have taught your ways.
Also on your skirts is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
though you did not catch them breaking in.
    Yet in spite of all these things[c]
you say, “I am innocent;
    surely his anger has turned from me.”
Now I am bringing you to judgment
    for saying, “I have not sinned.”
How lightly you gad about,
    changing your ways!
You shall be put to shame by Egypt
    as you were put to shame by Assyria.
From there also you will come away
    with your hands on your head;
for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
    and you will not prosper through them.


Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 2:8 Heb shepherds
  2. Jeremiah 2:31 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. Jeremiah 2:34 Meaning of Heb uncertain


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quote: Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There’s no short cut. We don’t need more talk. ….

But, it would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do… to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudices that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change. That’s how we lose our way again. …

Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.  That my liberty depends on you being free, too. That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice. Or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. How to break the cycle. A roadway for a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind, but more importantly an open heart.

~ President Barack Obama, from Eulogy for Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Charleston, NC, June 26, 2015

Obama on justice


Read President Obama’s full remarks here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/26/remarks-president-eulogy-honorable-reverend-clementa-pinckney

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Listening to Still, Small Voices

Still, Small Voices was the title and content of my pastor’s sermon on December 14, 2014, delivered a week after I posted my fury over lack of indictments for the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Let Ferguson – and the United States – burn!

I have long believed that either my pastors are paying attention to what I write and respond via their sermons or God is answering me directly through them. I truly believe the latter. 😉 Honestly, when I began listening to this sermon that Sunday morning, I was still burning in anger and frustration. I literally put my hand up and said, “I’m not even trying to hear you! There’s nothing still and small about me right now! My rage is too loud!”

But even as my hand was raised to push the message away, I apologized immediately for my rejection of it. So after sprouting my anger, I opened my ears and prepared to receive the message that was for me.

I didn’t take notes then, but I listened.

God is good. He maintains His hold on those who belong to Him.

I accepted His gentle rebuke just as I accepted my anger, outrage and frustration. I know everything in my life works to my good and my life works to glorify God.

Trust that there is a purpose for whatever passion threatens to consume you. Submit your passions to God and He will mold you into the instrument He needs for such a time as this.

Know you are blessed as you walk in your purpose and your passion.

To God be the glory,

LaShawnda

SERMON: STILL, SMALL VOICES by Pastor Carter Conlon

Quote: In a place of graciousness

Therefore the Lord will wait so that He may be gracious to you, therefore, He will be exhalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice. and blessed are all those who wait for Him.

When you finally discover that you have no strength inside of yourself, that your own palns, mannerisms are not going to work for you in this hour. I will wait for you until you’ve exhausted all your efforts – even righteous efforts – and I will be gracious to you there. In a place of graciousness – a place where the strong and the weak negotiate; and the poor and needed are shown kindness. When you finally run out of gas, I’ll come to you and I’ll speak to you. I’ll speak to you in soft, quiet confident way that will settle your heart and give you the strength to go forward. There is such incredible power in a small, still voice.

~ Pastor Carter Conlon.

Amen. And thank you, Pastor Carter, for being an instrument and a messenger.

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Preamble

PREAMBLE

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Read the Articles here: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/