Friday, November 30, 2018

Jesus was Black in my Church

Peace familia,

I have been sitting on this Blog for a few weeks. I pause to write everyday but I have not been putting out a lot of my writing for a variety of reasons, one being what blogging has become today. 
I have three pieces that you will be seeing in the upcoming weeks that I think are important to share. This one specifically was very revealing even to me while I was doing the presentation with Baba Tony. Looking back at my upbringing and speaking of this space with so much joy stood out in a new way. The title and the piece, speak to how we address the contradictions in our daily lives as people of African descent who seek liberation. It highlights how we face those contradictions while moving forward and growing. The title came from saying it out loud for the first time. Enjoy!

In light and love,

Jesus was Black in my Church

I recently did a presentation with Baba Tony Menelik on Yoruba Spiritual Practice and Restorative Justice at the Rise Up! Spirituality, Faith & Social Justice conference at William James College. We spoke about the connection that activist gain in seeking something deeper on their journey of internal and external liberation and how Ifa/Yoruba Philosophy allows that connection to deepen. We did not do the typical presentation format. Instead, we had a dialogue as we do daily, on making sense of these times of struggle and how to remain grounded through our spiritual practice.  

While presenting, I shared my catholic upbringing and how comforting it was. That changed when I am came to the US were Catholicism is race based which meant white. It moved from a white perspective that made me feel excluded and lost when I stepped into the church on campus and in the community. In sharing out loud, I spoke of how deeply rooted in Blackness my community, my church, St. Joseph in Colon, Panama was and still is today.

Colon was and still is identified from a place of Blackness in the overall narrative of the country. It was cool with us growing up. There was a sense of pride that I moved with and still do, as a Colonense. Why? One, because Panama is rich in many ways because of what Colon brings to the table. Two, because many of the Black Panamanians who reached a high level of success had and have roots in Colon. We are the shit! 

In the center of this uplifting, righteous Blackness is St. Joseph Church. The best choir, the coolest folks and the Soulful priest that I grew up with, Father Ingram. What!!!! The man could preach and sing. In this church the statue of Jesus at the altar was Black or to be specific a brown wooded, cool looking guy. 

Imagine that and then imagine a church full of men and women whose crowns touched the ceiling. So, yes, Jesus was Black in my Church!

I could go deeper in this blog but for now I am staying at the joy of this revelation. I am also choosing to celebrate how images of Black Love runs deep within. 

In speaking on this at the presentation with Baba Tony an aha moment showed up from this deep soul place. I now have the words and the visual to understand why in knowing so much truth about the role of church in the oppression of people of African descent, I am still able to go home in my child like joy and have spirit lifted every time I enter St. Joseph Church. Why? Because everything about that space was Black Spiritual Love. Everything said, you are blessed and you are Black. 

Giving thanks for the gift of this space and the continued clarity that shows up on this journey. Much love and admiration for all the people of St. Joseph Church.


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