Last night I had a ton of homework in my US History class. I’d waited too long to get started on the mountain of assignments due, but I didn’t want to rush. I’m enjoying this class so much so I just took my time knowing that I will get points taken off for turning it in past the 8:59pm deadline. An unexpected thing happened during one of my assignments. Since I am in US History of course one of the portions of study will be the slave trade during the colonial times. I had to watch a video that referenced an account of a man who was taken from his homeland at 12 and taken aboard a slave ship. The horrors described were too much for me although I got through it. But then I had to fill out this sheet to help me with a quiz that I had to take. The sheet was called Slave Trade Database Quiz/Questions/Queries. Basically this sheet gave you a list of scenarios regarding slave vessels and voyages and you had to look up the answer using the database. One of the questions said to look up how many slave voyages were listed for the years 1514-1607, which I did. The list was long and the first one listed was a voyage from 1539 that started in Sengambia and offshore Atlantic and disembarked the slaves in Puerto Rico. I learned last night that there were numerous slave voyages to Puerto Rico. If I delved further in I’m sure I would come up with a staggering amount of men, women and children taken from Africa to Puerto Rico. The numbers of these slave vessels was staggering.
I broke down crying. My husband was at work and I was just here looking at this database and looking at the color of my skin and thinking of my grandparents on my dad’s side and how beautiful their skin color was and how sweet the texture of their hair was. My grandmother had the loveliest caramel color, coarse curly black hair and light green eyes. My grandfather had slightly lighter skin and straighter hair but very strong features.
I don’t know why this fact of slave trade to Puerto Rico and the blood that courses through my veins along with my mom’s Mexican side from Uruapan, Michoacán, hit me with such force. Maybe its the echoes of the past and things that make me angry or make me cringe today. I had to remind myself that the things my ancestors must have endured was not just tragedy. There’s this thing in me that drives me and has these ties to the past. I love how pops of color, the corals and the aquas, call to me and remind me of Puerto Rico as I love the vibrant colors of the serapes from Mexico.
I finally connected the dots. I am always fighting against being dominated in any way or against any perceived threat that my rights are being taken away from me. Staring at the slave trade database I realized that my history is connected to it and my very present self is too. I spoke with Mario while we was on his way home, and we talked about how we are now just slaves to God out of love for Him. I was still upset with the cruelty of humanity and how it played out in my families in Puerto Rico and Mexico. And Mario had to remind me that this is what defines us today – Jesus’ blood. Even though the world or even our own mind wants to make us slaves we can push back and be slaves only to our Creator that made us to love and overcome and run free.
I don’t know where to go with this latest information about Puerto Rico is going to take me. I definitely want to know more, but I want to appreciate that the echoes of the past are just that, echoes. I want to mourn the past but then take the good, the gifts and have them be used in my life for the great adventure God has set me on.
Whatever your echoes are and mine are, we are created in His image and He loves us. That’s our very present reality.
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
With all my heart, Sonia
Gil y Julia, Abuelo y Abuela in Puerto Rico