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.
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
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.