No place in America shows as many cultural differences as in the religious services of a “Black” church and a “white” church. In America, the church is actually two different things because one of those buildings is filled with a bunch of Muslims and they don’t even know it. Very little is known about Africa from the descendants of Africa in America and it is easy to be ashamed of everything African. America had three television networks that were all programmed by white men, as was every magazine and any other source of information, from history books to movies. The parts that showed Africa was like watching a documentary that was filmed by someone who hated the subject. It was years before I realized that I saw the world through “white men’s eyes” that programmed everything I saw and it affected the way I thought about Africa and the part of me that is African.
There was the idea that Africa was either a wasteland of savage people dancing around a fire or people in a famine so desperate that the “world” had to feed them, but it wasn’t until I began to read the narratives of people who invested in the truth, such as Mark Twain’s “King Leopold’s Soliloquy” and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Crime Of The Congo,” that I began to understand that Africa was the most brutally pillaged misunderstood country ever. Their descendants suffered from an invention that left them disenfranchised in America.
According to the research of Theodore W. Allen in “The Invention of the White Race,” when the first Africans arrived in 1619 there were no “white” people. It took about sixty years for “white” people to be created by the ruling class as a way of social control, in response to the labor unrest of Bacon’s Rebellion when Jamestown was burned to the ground. In other countries, people were known by their tribe, region, country of origin, faith, or socioeconomic status. People who were born in France are French, people born in Ireland are Irish, and so on and so forth. However, in America, a new identity was formed. English, Scottish, Irish, French, and other European colonists were lumped into one new class, “white,” and as a result, the people of African origin were defined as Black, showing the very fact that even your religion becomes a form of assimilation, even if the ways of your ancestors are still exuded.
The way history is told has the ability to shape how generations see things, The people of the Mayflower are often referenced as coming to the “New World” for religious freedom, but that wasn’t the case. In England, there was only one church in the 17th century, the Church of England. In order to flee prosecution from the CoE, the pilgrims fled to Holland around 1607/1608. The pilgrims had a major problem being with the Dutch, considering them very strange and too liberal. They believed the longer they stayed there, the more their children would assimilate to their customs, completely eradicating their way of life. The Pilgrims left Holland, a place where they were free to practice their religion, searching instead for a “New World” where their religion could dominate. Soon, religion was used as a weapon to justify slavery.
To understand the role of enslavement in the Americas, it’s important to first understand how far back the history of slavery goes. Throughout history, those conquered in wars have been taken as slaves, as was the case on almost every continent, such as in pre-colonial Latin America when the Aztecs and Mayas enslaved captives from wars. As Spain and Portugal began their conquest of Latin America, they began to set up the same system of enslavement of native people, but on a much larger scale. Raphael Lemkin, the person who invented the term genocide, described slavery as “the most effective and thorough method of destroying culture, of desocializing human beings.”
In 1614 an English explorer named Thomas Hunt captured natives from the Patuxet village of New England that he lured by the promise of trade, transporting them to Spain. Once in the city of Malaga, the captives were sold to monks, who educated and tried to evangelize them. One of the captives spent four years in Spain and eventually made his way to England. Seeking to make a fortune in the “New World,” the former captive was able to make his way to Newfoundland. In 1619, he was finally able to sail down the coast of New England and upon finding the site of his former village, he came upon the brutal realization that his entire tribe had been decimated and he was the only remaining member of his people. Another native of that same time who was also fluent in English was Samoset.
Shortly afterward, when The Mayflower pilgrims came into contact with the natives, they were able to meet the former captive who knew English and was able to show them the necessary ways to survive. This former captive’s name is Tisquantum, but most history books refer to him as Squanto. The reason the Mayflower pilgrims were able to survive was because of a former slave from a completely decimated people.