The reality is the ownership of other human beings is not unique to black African Americans. It is part of the history of every race, and there are examples of it even within our own country . . .
Few people realize that the term slave has its origins in the word slav. The Slavs include Russians, Serbians, and others who have long inhabited a large part of Eastern Europe. Many of them were taken as slaves by the Muslims of Spain during the ninth century A.D.
In Arabic, the word for slave is s’qaliba; in Greek, it’s sklavos. You don’t have to be an etymologist to know the origin for these words.
The reality is the ownership of other human beings is not unique to black African Americans. It is part of the history of every race, and there are examples of it even within our own country.
Though some would argue that the indentured servitude of the Irish, for example, was not “slavery,” few would go so far as to suggest they weren’t treated just as poorly under identical circumstances for the same reasons. They were.
According to anecdotal information from the Antebellum period, whenever back-breaking labor was involved in the docks of Baltimore or New Orleans, white immigrants were usually preferred over black men because owners had an “investment” in black slaves that they didn’t want to waste.
So, yeah, white people were often treated as slaves. And not all black people in America were slaves. (Nor should we forget that the Ashanti nation of Africa became one of the wealthiest peoples on earth because of their very lucrative involvement in the slave trade.)
Making the distinction that indentured servants were considered human beings under the law and African slaves were not does not hold water. Both were treated execrably. As with most things, the truth is not nearly as pristine, as some were free and some were not. (https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5386&context=faculty_scholarship)
What is true, however, is that having a particular skin color is not a criteria for determining who was and was not a descendant of the deplorable condition known as “slavery”, i.e. the buying and selling of human beings.
Nor should it be used as an excuse for treating other people poorly. We have become modern “slaves” to a myth that justifies looting, violence and anti-social behavior that is threatening the very fabric of our nation. Don’t believe me? The CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, yesterday said that we shouldn’t focus too much on the physical destruction of property (this, after several of his own stores were demolished!). Instead, we must consider the fee-fees of the rioters. And then he got down on his knees and shined the shoes of some black celebrity he was sitting next to.
This is nothing less than insanity. Real slaves had real masters to whom they had to answer — or suffer physical consequences. Cathy is a slave to a delusion; an unreality. His master is a phantom. Still, he is very much a slave; he is also behaving foolishly.
As Father Joseph Gleason points out below, this doesn’t have to be the case and isn’t the case in the Church. His original article can be found on the Russian Faith website. Please take the time to read it:
Alright. So, we need to talk about race, about judging people merely because of their skin color. I’m an Orthodox priest, and I admit that I’ve been a really slow learner, but with all the recent events, I have finally seen the light. This is a very serious issue, and I now realize that I have not done enough — personally — to fight against it.
Slavery was widespread, until is was abolished in the 1860s. And today, there are millions of people who are descendants of these slaves. Literally millions of them, today, are members of the Orthodox Church.
We also need to remember, in history, how many Saints of the Orthodox Church have been slaves. These are godly Christian people who endured the abuse and humiliation of slavery, suffering for years under the lashes of hard taskmasters. Yet they did not condemn. They did not complain. They faithfully and humbly followed Christ, not expecting to receive their reward here on earth, knowing that their full reward would only be received later, at the Resurrection.
These Orthodox Saints who were slaves, and also the millions of Orthodox Christians today who are descendants of slaves, are our brothers and sisters. They are part of the Body of Christ. So we have to stop treating them like second-class citizens!
Now, just to be clear, just to make sure I am not misunderstood, it is important for me to point this out: The people I am talking about are white.
You see, slavery was abolished in Russia in the 1860s, four years before it was abolished in America. And prior to that time, literally millions of innocent, white, Christian Russians were subjected to being serfs — slaves.
I have a Russian friend named Irina, who lives in America, and she is the direct descendant of a slave. She said her great-grandmother was valued just slightly less than a young goat. Can you even imagine how humiliating it would be, to know that people valued a goat more highly than they valued your own grandmother? How painful would that be, if you had to deal with that as a part of your own family history?
There are literally millions of people living in Russia today, who are descendants of slaves, just like Irina. We need to show them respect, for even today, they are demonstrating incredible levels of honor, strength, and faith.
- They are building churches, not burning them.
- They are starting businesses, not vandalizing them.
- They are upholding law and order, not making a mockery of it.
- Instead of rioting, they are praying.
- Instead of complaining, they are giving thanks.
- Instead of marching through cities in protests, they are marching around monasteries in cross processions.
- Instead looking for people they can blame, they are looking for people they can help.
- Instead of demanding payments for the past, they are working to build a better future.
- Instead of arrogantly asking other people to get down on their knees and bow down to them, they are the ones bowing their knees to Christ, repenting of their own sins, and following His example.
And the Orthodox Saints who were slaves! There’s St. Andrew of Constantinople, St. Emilianos of Bulgaria, St. Moses the Hungarian, St. Callistus, St. Boniface . . . All of them were slaves.
And St. Patrick!
That’s right . . . the saint loved by Irishmen around the world . . . Every time St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, you are celebrating and honoring a white man who spent years of his life as a slave.
These are the people we honor. These are the people we look up to. They were Christians, they were slaves, and they were white.
So please explain to me, why should I be ashamed of the color of my skin? Why should I apologize for so-called “white privilege”?
- Was it white privilege that drove millions of Russians into serfdom and slavery for hundreds of years?
- Was it white privilege that enslaved the Irish?
- Was it white privilege that made Will Smith one of America’s most highly paid actors today?
- If you look at the twenty highest paid professional athletes in the world, the majority of them are black. Is that because of white privilege?
- According to the U.S. Department of Justice, blacks commit violent crimes against whites, far more often than whites commit such crimes against blacks. Is this an example of white privilege?
12% of the American population is black. 11% of Congress is black. 11% of the Supreme Court is black. And during the 41 years of my life so far, 19% of those years have had a black American President. Is this evidence of white privilege?
Was it white privilege that got Ilhan Omar into Congress, Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court, and twice got Barack Obama elected as President of the United States?
Was it white privilege that sold blacks into slavery in the first place? No it wasn’t! In Africa, blacks were kidnapping other blacks, and then selling them into slavery.
And which is worse, purchasing, or being the dealer? being a buyer, or being the one who kidnapped them in the first place?
In the drug world, which is worse, a user, or a drug dealer? Being a user is bad, and can get you into trouble. But being a drug dealer is much more serious, and results in a longer prison sentence. So when it comes to slavery, why are we only focusing on the users, while we let the dealers go scott free?
And this — this is one of the many ways you can tell that BLM, as a movement, is either ignorant, or hypocritical. Why aren’t they asking blacks in Africa to get down on their knees, and apologize for their ancestors kidnapping people and selling them into slavery?
Either they are ignorant and don’t know history, or else they do know history, and they are just hypocrites who are covering it up. Which is it?
Because it’s a plain fact — BLM is not demanding anything of blacks in Africa. BLM isn’t telling Africans to get down on their knees, and they aren’t telling them to apologize. The only people they terrorize are whites, and the only reason they do it is because of the color of our skin.
Now, if they start being more consistent, then I may take them a little more seriously. If they start asking African blacks to get on their knees and apologize, then they won’t look so hypocritical when they ask whites to do the same thing.
Just like I said earlier, these Orthodox Saints who were slaves, and also the millions of Orthodox Christians today who are descendants of slaves, are our brothers and sisters. They are part of the Body of Christ. So we have to stop treating them like second-class citizens!
None of the blacks in America today have ever been slaves, and none of the whites in America today have ever owned one. My ancestors lived in Kansas and Michigan, and they never owned slaves. A number of blacks in America are not descended from slaves, because they came to America within the past few decades, long after slavery was abolished. And many whites in America are the descendants of slaves, because many of the whites in America are Slavic immigrants, from Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and other bordering countries. So are we going to take all of these facts into account, and make it a fair playing field? Or are we just going to keep hating people because they are white, judging them merely because of the color of their skin?
You have nothing to be ashamed of. You have the skin color God gave you. Be grateful! Do not apologize to anyone for your skin color. Do not get on your knees because of your skin color.
Be thankful for the great legacy that has been left over the past 2000 years, by numerous fellow Christians. Millions of them were whites who endured slavery themselves. And many of them even became Saints.
Stand tall, hold your head high, be thankful for this positive legacy, and do not be ashamed.
Because you have nothing to be ashamed of.
You have nothing to apologize for.
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