Black History Month

Black History month is here again, and living where I live I get to hear all kinds of statements about this fact. Everything from why isn’t there a white history month, to grumbling about another month filled with Roots reruns and Jesse Jackson tirades. Honestly I do think we could do better, especially in our school systems. I mean honestly the drivel they push down the throats of the kids in the classrooms, no wonder they are apathetic to it. It’s not that they don’t care about the civil liberty marches, or the King and X speeches, but they live in a different world, with new a fierce racial problems, and they want answers for what they face today. King didn’t become the voice of the people by focusing on what was accomplished in the past, he spoke to the people of the day about the future. Yes this is Black History month, but lets use this time to show though the history the way to shape the future of tomorrow.  Lets show of the legacy of the black inventors, the people that gave us elevators, the churn, window cleaner, the ice cream scooper, ice cream, the gas burner, blood banks, 2 cycle gas engines, air conditioning, portable x-ray machines, the golf tee, clothes driers, gas mask, peanut butter, the automatic traffic signal, trolley car, the modern telephone, the third rail, cellular phones, lawn mowers, refrigerators, programmable remote controls, the folding bed, helicopters, and so much, much more. http://swagga.com/inventors.htm and http://www.blackinventor.com/  

Not to mention so much of this was done in periods of time in the US that blacks couldn’t receive any education, and that it was illegal for them to know how to read. I will continue to sing the praises of Cosby until the day the message finally sinks in. Black Americans have a ton to be proud of, in their legacy and their future, but the leaders to take this fight to the next level are missing from the forefront of the battle ground. Instead the battle is being led in a downward spiral by those making millions preaching of the glamorous thug life, the beauty of teenage pregnancy, and the genius of ignorance and no education. Yes there are those out that that are fighting this image, my favorite hip hop group, The Procussions, come to mind in this area, but look at the reality of the situation. The Pussycat Dolls are everything the feminist movement hates, and everything the strip clubs are, and my daughters 1st grade friends can sing every lyric to every song, but can’t find Africa on a globe, in fact they can’t find the US on the globe most of the time. This is just a small point in the grand scheme of things, but the fact remains that there needs to be a voice, and there is a natural voice that should have been on the forefront of this battle, but they refuse to open their mouths, or to move their legs.  

This advocate that refuses to advocate is none other than the church.  The most segregated hour in America is 11 am on Sunday morning. This is wrong, this is sin in its purest form.  

Go into your Church on Sunday and look around. Seriously look at the photos and statues you have, stain glass windows? Look at the faces. What do you see? Blonde haired blue eyed Jesus? White dude giving the sermon on the mount to a white crowd with white disciples? I hate to break it to you, but the reason Ben Stein looks so European is that the Jews fled the middle east and hid and intermarried in Europe for hundreds of years. The Jews of Biblical days were a lot darker, some even black.  So lets take a look at the Black history of the Christian faith, and lets confine ourselves to the Scripture. Yes there is so much more that could be added though historical documents and the achievements of modern day black saints, but for this post, to make it easy to verify, lets stay within the confines of the Bible.  

Let’s start with the New Testament. We know who most of the authors were, and we know their genealogy for the most part, so which of the New Testament books were written by black men?  

Mark, as in the author of the Gospel of Mark, was from Cyrene.  A few of you are nodding your heads, yeah, I know that, you are saying. The rest are saying “So what” And in fact I feel fairly safe in saying very, very few of my readers know the real significance of this fact, although by the context of this posting you are probably getting it.  

Cyrene was located in modern day Libya. But the Arab migration didn’t happen until the 7th to 11th century, thus it’s a very black African race when mentioned in the Bible.  Yes go back and read it again, then go on the internet and verify I am telling the truth, and you will come to back and reread the Gospel of Mark, reading the famous writing of a very significant black author.  How many of us have been guilty of mentally imagining an old white haired European dude writing the Gospel of Mark? How blessed are we to be able to use these writings to show our children the achievements of Africans in the Bible? Mind you there isn’t a single author in the entire Bible that would pass for a white dude, even Paul, despite all the European painting you have seen of him, he was still a Jew.  

Now why do we all know that Luke was a Greek, and Simon a Zealot, Paul was a Jew’s Jew, but so few know that Mark was African? Now granted the actual text of the Gospel of Mark was transcribed by who knows who, but the author was Mark, and by his genealogy we can see that Mark was what we consider to be black in today’s vernacular.  

Mark left Jerusalem for his home, and preached in his homelands, Cyrene and Egypt.  Even today the Coptic Church holds Mark as the founder of their Church.  Yes as a Protestant or Catholic we trace ourselves back to Peter and Paul through the church of Rome, Yet historically the Coptic Church is just as important to the Christian faith, and was started by Mark. Now in all of the Sunday schools classes, all of the sermons you have ever heard, how many can say they ever knew that Mark was black? And how important is it as inter racial families to show our children that Jesus was buddies with black men too. And that this particular guy went on to preach and do great things for the kingdom.  

And what about the fact that with Mark establishing the Coptic church he fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy:  

GOD will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they’ll get to know him on that Day. They’ll worship him seriously with sacrifices and burnt offerings. They’ll make vows and keep them. GOD will wound Egypt, first hit and then heal. Egypt will come back to GOD, and GOD will listen to their prayers and heal them, heal them from head to toe. On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they’ll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians! On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people! . . . Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands! . . . Blessed be Israel, my heritage!” (Isaiah 19:21-25 MSG)  

 

Let Egyptian traders bring blue cloth and Cush come running to God, her hands outstretched. Sing, O kings of the earth! Sing praises to the Lord! There he is: Sky-Rider, striding the ancient skies. Listen–he’s calling in thunder, rumbling, rolling thunder. Call out “Bravo!” to God, the High God of Israel. His splendor and strength rise huge as thunderheads. A terrible beauty, O God, streams from your sanctuary. It’s Israel’s strong God! He gives power and might to his people! O you, his people–bless God! (Psalms 68:31-35 MSG) 

 

How awesome must it have been for Mark as he traveled back into the lands that raised our Savior. Remember, Josef and Mary fled to Egypt from Israel and lived in Africa for Jesus’ young life. I don’t think they were sent to Egypt to stand out either, and remember the Arab migration hadn’t happened yet either.  It is the common assumption that Josef was of a more African lineage than Mary, thus probably being much darker, and many have suggested that in modern times they would be considered to be an interracial marriage. Mind you they were both descendants of David, just one line spent a lot more time down in Africa while the other spent it’s time in Israel.  The historic Israel was a lot more racially diverse than today, to marry outside of the faith was forbidden, but race was not the issue.  

Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus’ cross up the hill to Calvary, was as black as they come as well. It was nice to see this portrayed in the “Passion of Christ” One of the most honored positions in the story of Calvary, the man who assisted Christ in carrying the burden, and the pride of that legacy is for those of African decent.  Now Simon wasn’t picked to carry the cross because he was black, he was just the Jew who was there to do the bidding of the Romans, but in the few painting I have seen of Simon of Cyrene, he is still the Eurocentric 15th century European Jew. Why? 

Even in the tribal heritage of the Jewish lineage two of the tribes were mothered by an African. Josef married Asenath, an African, who mothered two of the tribes of Israel. Then in the Exodus from Egypt there was a multitude of Africans that came along, and God embraced them as He embraced all those that choose to follow.  Look at the serious fact here, when the Jews entered Egypt they were around 70 in number. (Exodus 1:5) When they left they were over 2 million. You don’t grow that fast in 430 years and not marry the locals too.  It’s safe to say that the tribes that left Egypt on that glorious Exodus was also a demonstration of the glorious rainbow of melanin as well.  

Now as for one of my favorite subjects, Ethiopia and the Bible. You don’t have to look hard to see that God loves Ethiopia.  

Ethiopia of the Bible included Southern Egypt and modern day Sudan and Somalia.  Referred to at times as the Cushites, or descendants of Cush.  

We have all heard of the Ethiopian Eunuch, baptized by Phillip.  The sad fact is that most think that this is as far as the Bible goes with Ethiopia though.  It’s sad as there are actually books written about, and by Ethiopians.  

Now what I want you to do is to read the Song of Solomon. A group of poetry and songs written to his favorite lover and wife. Have you gotten to the ebony skin yet? What about the African lyrics of gazelles? Yes, you are reading the love letter to the famous Queen of Sheba, the matriarch of the Ethiopian dynasty.  Valentines is coming up, so many of you will hear the obligatory sermon out of the Song of Solomon, so as you sit there listening, now you know that you are listening to the description of a real African Queen, and Ethiopian at that.  

The author of Zephaniah was at least ½ Ethiopian, as we know his father was Ethiopian, and there is no info on his mother, so he could potentially be an full Ethiopian author.  Now granted the minor prophets are vastly overlooked in the modern evangelical church. But he is still there even if not used as the proof text for this Sunday’s sermon.  As you read this book you will find Ethiopia mentioned, but not in a good way as Ethiopia had aligned themselves with Egypt and attacked Israel with one of the largest armies to ever attack Israel, and they were defeated.  

Joab’s runner (2 Samuel 18:21-32) was Ethiopian as well.  Perhaps not a glamorous as a position, but even in the days of old, before the Boston marathon, you just couldn’t beat the Ethiopian runners.  

Moses married an Ethiopian, his second wife, after his first wife died. In fact when Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses for marrying this Ethiopian Miriam was struck with leprosy. (Numbers 12:1-15) They had no children together, as Moses entire lineage came from his first wife, but she was eventually accepted as part of the tribe of Jew.  

So look around your church again, look at the images of the scenes so dear to our faith, and look at the faces. Why?  

Yes, look at the history of the church, this is the history of a multitude of races, yet we present it in a Eurocentric fashion.  Yes, we show a white Jesus with white disciples, and we wonder why our churches stay segregated. And yes there are black churches that have pulled a 180 and show black Jesus with black disciples, and that isn’t the answer either. I understand the desire to portray the messiah in your own skin suit, but the facts remain, Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was a Jew that was able to hide in Egypt pre the Arab migration. And the fact remains that 11 am is still the most segregated hour in America. 

If I am going to raise my kids to be proud of who they are I have to be able to show them what to be proud of in their history. Trust me, they get enough of the European history in school that spending one month a year really digging into black history isn’t going to hurt a thing. And if I want my kids to be able to take ownership of this relationship called Christianity, I need to be able to point to the black pillars of the Christian faith as well. If I allow the myth of Christianity being the “white mans religion” to propagate and dig in deeper, then how can I expect my black children to embrace it? 

I know there is no “the answer” to the problem. But there is YOUR answer to the problem. So what is it, what are YOU doing about it? Let’s dialogue on this subject. What are you doing to end the myth of the blonde haired, blue eyed Bible?

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8 Responses to “Black History Month”

  1. Wow! I just got educated. I did not know that Mark and Simon among others were black. You have given me alot to think about. I hate the fact that there is so much segregation in the church. As a mother, what can I do to tell my children about this other than to just tell them about certian people in the Bible being black? Any suggestions? I mean, we don’t really have pics or books with pics of people from the Bible, except for maybe one or two that just show Jesus. Give me some ideas.

    The one stand we have taken in our everyday life is that (silly as this sounds) I will not let Zoe have a majority of white Barbies, etc… I make sure they are culturally diverse. Even the white ones I make sure all look different and not just blonde/blue. I want her to know that you can have any skin or hair color and be beautiful. We even have a GRandma and a GRandpa Barbies as well. You should see the grey hair and polyester pants! LOL!

  2. Thanks Avery,

    I appreciate you sharing this with your readers. I did know much of the information you shared but I learned a couple of new things too. Knowledge is power.

  3. Avery, very educational and informative! Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I’ve been a seldom-poster-frequent-lurker of you and Heather for quite some time now. This post is very well written, I’m going to link to it on my blog.

  4. Wow cool…I had no idea that Mark was black!

    Do you have any suggestions on how to learn the Amharic alphabet? Did you use a book, or computer program, or did someone tutor you? I’m kind of intimidated by the amount of letters, so aany advice would ve very much appreciated 🙂

  5. fabulous!

  6. Thanks for taking the time!

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  8. lineageguide…

    […]Black History Month « the discombobulated chronicle of an eccentric sojourner[…]…

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