Summer 1851. Jacob Vanderpool was exiled from the Oregon Territory under an exclusion law that banned people of African descent from living within its borders. To this day, he remains the only person in the United States to ever have been tried, convicted, and punished solely for the “crime” of being Black.
More than a century and a half later, Sarah L. Sanderson made the shocking discovery that she was related to not just one but two of the White men who played a role in Jacob’s exile. This discovery started an investigative journey to confront her ancestors’ overt racism and her own unconscious biases, and find a way forward with repentance and humility.
Brave, compassionate, and filled with transformative realizations, this stunning work of research and reflection is an invitation into the holy work of self-examination and repentance to guide you to better understand, care, and love the people and places we call home.
One of next year’s best books.
Should there be space for voices that cry out to repent and repair? Absolutely.
After reading The Place We Make, I believe Sarah L. Sanderson is one of those voices.
Sarah has done a beautiful job in weaving painful historical moments, and her faith in a way that invites you in and causes you to think.
The current American zeitgeist would have us believe that we are self-made individuals free of past influences—good or bad. But as Sarah demonstrates through her own story written in beautiful prose, we do not live in an historical vacuum. On the contrary, the specters of American history will only be laid to rest when we acknowledge their presence in the past and present. A white utopia isn’t a utopia for anyone else. This is a must read.