Something about two jays crossing a silver sky this morning got me thinking about July*, one of my enslaved characters. How she might think about suffering: one minute bearable, the next not. The jays squawked to each other in their language of season. Their language of season does not get weighed down by human travail. A measurement of light, is all. A call to a mate. “I’m here! I’m here!” They are high enough up that they look small and the vibrant blue of their bodies and wings is barely visible. But, I hear them. I hear them. And I take heart, for in their conversation, I hear references to spring.
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* The enslaved were often named after days of the week or months of the year. This was not an objectification that came with being commodities, as one might think at first blush, but rather, an African custom. “July” actually was a man’s name and is one of the few names of record from the time period. In the fall of 1739, a male bondman named July hid “his” family during the Stono Slave Rebellion, thus saving their lives. He was later rewarded with his freedom, a hat, a pair of breeches, and shoes. Since there is so little recorded history about the enslaved, fidelity to the record in the small matter of names feels important. For now, though, I am attached to one of the bondwomen being called ‘July’.
love this Cold Blue!
I know nothing of slavery except what I’ve read in books and in newspapers… why oh why do we humans make this conceit of otherness that we can do that to each other?
Yesterday was silver and platinum. Today is yellow gold. More than two years of steady research about American slavery has been a transformative process for me… it is difficult to try and wrap one’s mind around… “conceit of otherness” is a great phrase. A lot packed in it.
Taking heart in conversation about the “conceit of otherness”.
Slavery is a door into the dark unconscious, where tribal instincts rule. We must bring those feelings up into the light for examination and revision with a sense of compassion for the deep fears and loneliness from which they spring.”Us” and “them” gives us a sense of belonging and a place to put (project) all the garbage. We will never escape the heinous behavior that results without a larger sense of “us” …a healing of the wound of separation.