BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Dear white Jesus,
As a young girl my mother and father baptized me in a Roman Catholic church. My mom always talked about you, consistently reminding all her children of your grace, tolerance and love for the world and all its people. There were many days I called on you for help and mercy. Sometimes for selfish reasons and other times for understanding or on behalf of my fellow man. I never questioned your presence or wisdom. The bible guided my family through many tough times in life. It didn’t take away the severe poverty I grew up with in Suriname but somehow, we made it with help from others. We had land to grow food, chickens to raise, family and community. And, you reaped all the praise for every bit of good that fell on us. “Thank God,” was a common phrase we all used. We accepted our unequal place in the world as our cross to bear. I never questioned it. I simply accepted it like my mother and grandmother did. We are black people. And not just any type of black people. We are tribal black people from the Ashanti and Akan tribes in Africa that have come around to accept our field negro way of life despite our royal beginnings. We thanked you, nonetheless. We praised you in spite of it all.
The love of two vastly different people led to my being. I was essentially plucked from the fate bestowed on my tribal people by being born to a black Pamaka mother and a white Okie father. I didn’t just look different; I was given a different life than the one many of my people live. I became a house negro. Not by choice, but rather by unjust and brutal circumstances all black people in the world know. Slavery shaped us. Not just culturally but in every human way possible. We fought each other, and we fought hard to right all the wrongs committed against us by Europeans. We struggled and died brutal deaths in mass numbers around the world just to gain a small foothold in the common ideals of humanity. From Africa, the West Indies, South America, to the Caribbean islands and America, we fought hard for our salvation and bits of freedom. And, again, you were given all the glory for the strength to defeat our enemies.
After 246 years of slave labor in America, that built the most powerful country and democracy the world has ever known, we find ourselves still fighting the same ol’ fight we’ve fought for centuries. I’m exhausted. Having to carry the weight of our ancestors’ struggle, we’re all undoubtedly exhausted. And yet, there’s still no rest for the weary. So, how much longer “God”? How many more of us have to be brutally struck down by hateful racist white people? How many more must be sacrificed to finally bring about the justice and equality any human being deserves? We love our children and want to see them grow. But they can’t because of the indiscriminate hate that comes with the birth of brown babies. We love our mothers but can’t experience their complete love and support as they too are met with violence inflicted on their aging bodies from being mercilessly thrown to the ground by white police officers in Baltimore. We love our fathers, but they can’t protect us from the early graves they meet after being shot in the back when they run from the police in North Carolina. We love our black teachers but can’t gain the wisdom of their teachings or the sweetness of their gentle souls as they are met with hails of bullets while peacefully sitting in their car in Minnesota. We love our black doctors but can’t get their healing as they are brutally detained and mistreated for wanting to help the homeless in Florida. We love our friends but can’t play with them in parks when they meet an officer’s callous bullet for playing with a toy gun in Ohio. We can’t talk on the phone with our young teenagers after their deadly confrontation in their own neighborhood with cowardly bullies aiming guns in Florida. And it’s clear, we can’t run for exercise in Georgia without being lynched by a racist mob who simply traded in their Klan sheets for police uniforms.
So, I want to know, dear white Jesus and your father God, how much longer must we fight? How much longer will you allow us to suffer in this world? You see, you can’t be the same God for us, and for those who hate and brutalize us. There’s no way we’re all praying to you. And so, there must be another God that sees us all. I refuse to believe a God that is supposedly all knowing and good, would allow his brown skinned people to suffer so much.
“God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11). All are equal before Him. Ephesians 6:9 says, “There is no favoritism with him.” And Colossians 3:25 teaches God’s fairness in judgment, “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
I need to know that your teachings are worthy of my following because of the heavy cross black people have had to bear. So, I’m calling your true name. I’m calling you to reveal yourself to the world. Because I demand justice, once and for all. Because enough is enough. I will not take another step blinded by the bible’s myth of your love, mercy and glory. I will not be lulled to remain stupid with songs, dances or hymns calling and praising you. I reject all that you stand for and allow to happen to black people on earth.
And so, in my hour of bitter anger and deep sorrow over the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by a racist mob that are being protected by the local police and politicians, I am reaching all the way back to the first God. The King of All Gods, Amen-Ra.
I am reaching back to all the ancestors, from Africa to Suriname and everywhere black people have roamed, fought and suffered, to beg for strength, justice and healing in this hour of my pain. It is incredibly hard to watch Ahmaud Arbery’s brutal and senseless killing. But like me, we must all bear witness of his death because it tells the never-ending and tragic story of black lives in America. Arbery’s callous killing must be met with swift justice, not just here on earth but throughout the universal holy spaces where our ancestors rest and watch over us. We need healing King of all Gods. But most importantly, we need justice and finally, peace. Once and for all. In Amen-Ra I pray.