We are pious and forgiving…
I am of the opinion that Black folks are the most pious and forgiving people in the world.
I say that because I used to look at Brooklyn, New York, as a place with more Black churches per square mile than any place that I have visited.
Recently, I have been seeing the same phenomenon in Montreal and in Trinidad where there are more Black churches with all sorts of names other than the Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches that I grew up seeing in Trinidad and when I arrived in North America more than 40 years ago.
Needless to say, we are a God-fearing community.
At the same time, I am looking at this church-going and God-fearing community and I see all the ills and injustices that have been imposed upon us over time. Who knows the exact millions of Africans who were removed from their homeland? Who knows the conditions under which they were transported from Africa and forced into chattel slavery? Who knows the conditions under which they existed as slaves?
And then, there is the on-going poverty, racism, discrimination, injustice and degradation of our human existence that we have continued to survive with over the last hundreds or thousands of years.
For me the optics are not good at all. And when we have had these injustices imposed upon us we are very quick to forgive. Most recently in South Carolina when a young white man killed nine innocent people in a church, the first notions that came out of the mouth of Black folks was about “forgiveness.” Even before we took the time to get angry or have the young man dealt with in the criminal justice system.
Our convictions also extend to the fact that even when a catastrophe strikes it is because we need to pray harder. This was the case when the earthquake struck Haiti and killed over 200,000; instinctively many Haitians felt that it was because they came up short with prayers and the earthquake was perhaps a reminder from God.
Maybe it’s because I do not understand.
As a boy, less than ten years old, I remember sitting with my mother while she did her household chores and asking about these injustices and the role of the Heavenly Father in all of this. Her response was never satisfying, but it was always the same: God is not like man, He does not give us more than we can bear, and when judgement day comes, He will take charge of the situation and purge the earth of all evil and the good folks would go to live in a new kingdom free of sickness and evil.
Fifty something years later and being a father now myself, I am still not satisfied with that answer because there is no way that (as a father) I would allow anyone to hurt my children and wait for a later date to act.
Call me inpatient.
In my quest for understanding, I have also spoken with several religious leaders who all tell me that it is about having faith. But up to this point it all sounds like “blind faith” to me because our overall situation, in spite of our piousness, seems to be more and more of the same.
Perhaps I just need to pray some more.