The New Negro
It was a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 that legally continued – in an institutionalized manner – the dehumanization, marginalization, hate, and mistreatment of my sisters and brothers in the United States under the white-centered dogma of “separate but equal”. This particular dogma driven by “ignorance” and expressed through oppressive “forms” of hate hosted itself in the homes, churches, schools, food places, recreation places, in the minds and hearts of my white sisters and brothers etc…motivating them to look upon people like me, that is, “colored people” (or nonwhites) with a mentality of superiority. Even more, to be “colored” (as they would call us) meant that we were something less than, that is, “less than human” and not “dignified” enough to be treated like human beings created in “God’s image”. It did not matter if one was a little “lighter”, “darker”, “mixed” because for the most part we all ended up being “negroes” or better yet the “niggers” who were not human but less than human and deserving of a “niggers” lot.
Yes, modern Christians are familiar with the story – and many other stories like it – but in the present within some churchgoing circles perhaps the Church is not remembering the story correctly as she places restrictions upon God’s daughters concerning the way that she should worship and serve God. Perhaps the Church is not familiarizing herself with these stories correctly because in the present she finds herself “institutionalizing” the same decree which led to the injustices against those so-called colored “niggers”. The Church (not all of the Church) finds herself stifling and misconstruing the freeing, liberating, restorative, redemptive and egalitarian message of “good news” brought by God in Christ Jesus and she again ignorantly commits the same error, that is, God’s daughters become the new “niggers”. Perhaps some in the Church need to dethrone themselves from their high-seated positions and listen to a so-called “nigger’s” reading of Scripture…..Perhaps those white men (whoever they are) need to hear St. Paul afresh when he says to the so-called “nigger” that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” The so-called “nigger’s” reading seems to get it right and despite the oppressive forms of ignorance the “nigger” in her reading of Scripture still seems to rise and come to hear and believe a quite different message concerning her identity….A message that takes her from niggerdom and brings her into personhood. I will close with a poem by Maya Angelou entitled “Still I Rise”:
You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may tread me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.