A couple weeks ago, Henry and I traveled to New Orleans for a few days of vacation. I hadn’t been there since a college band tour, and Henry had only driven through. We stayed in the French Quarter, enjoyed a lot of delicious local food, and explored the parts of town we could access via trolleys and our own two feet.
One day, we took a trolley to the French Market, a sprawling area filled with shops and outdoor vendors. We found some cool local gifts for upcoming grandchildren’s birthdays and took a lot of photographs (some of which I will share this week on Instagram). I also noticed and photographed this sign, which caught my attention because of what seemed like an antiracist message: “We all are still slaves.”
Once I got home, I took a closer look at the photo and read the entire message in detail, then researched the artist. It turns out he’s a white guy. As I read it, I realized his message about slavery is not specifically addressing racism, but something broader.
He challenges all who read his sign to “open your mind to what is going on around you.” He doesn’t get specific, but states, “If you don’t grow every day you are dead.” That certainly resonates with me, as someone who meets regularly in spiritual guidance with people seeking to attentively grow their spiritual lives.
He goes on to say that those who don’t see, don’t open their minds, had “better do what they told you!” I wonder what life experiences have led him to believe that those whose minds are closed are “puppets.” His idea of slavery seems to be related more to being a cog in the capitalist machine (which I’ve previously pondered myself).
Hopefully the photo above is clear enough for you to read the entire sign yourself. What message do you see there? In what ways are you still a slave? How might you “open your mind to what is going on around you”?