I had such a laugh this morning thinking about this so I thought I should share it with you while it is still fresh on my mind. By the way the words Suppose God is Black are not mine. They were actually the words of President John F. Kennedy: the 35th president of the United States of America in office from 1961 to 1963 when he was assassinated. I found this out at the Rise and Fall of Apartheid :Photography and the Bureaucracy of Every day Life. A photographic exhibition open at Museum Africa in Johannesburg South Africa. JFK said those words Suppose God is Black in reference to Apartheid Rule in South Africa during his visit in June 1966. No wonder. I got to thinking about this in more detail as I walked through walls and walls of black bodies fervently seeking emancipation and freedom. I went to the museum to see the exhibition knowing that it is mostly unpleasant, many of the images on exhibit I had seen numerous times before, however I was determined to come out of it stronger than I was when I First went in. And Suppose God is Black was the first thing I came across : Thank you JFK.
BUT SUPPOSE GOD IS A BLACK WOMAN?
This thought arose as I studied the image (see above) of a white woman walking by the beach front, causally, while her black dog trailed behind her. A few feet behind the white woman and the dog is a black woman – her maid. The Dog was doing what dogs do…shitting all over the place and the black maid was doing what black maids do, picking up the shit the dog had left behind. Now you may wonder how this is a) Funny or b) Godly. But the more I thought about it the more it made sense. First can you think of one single person who has cleaned-up your shit no matter how badly it stunk, wiped your puke, cleaned your nose, and took care of all your disgusting (let’s be honest) bodily functions and still thought you are the most amazing, beautiful, precious thing on earth?. Someone who loved you so much they could eat you, cuddle you and will do anything to protect you, love you and make sure you’re happy after all of that? Yes you thought right it is your mother. (I use this term inclusively of all kinds of mother(s)/mothering yes, men/fathers who do this are included too) But mostly it’s mother’s who do all the dirty work, the unpleasant stuff. So take this analogy and think about it in the South African context (or any the colonial context for that matter). Who does all the dirty work? Who cleans up after you, makes sure your dog’s shit is picked up, your house is clean, you have clean clothes, your children are well raised and taken care of? A black Woman. If you’re not doing it yourself, a black woman is doing it for you. So still, how does that make a black woman God you ask? Don’t white women do this too? Sure white women do, do that too… but if I were looking for answers I’d go to the person who looks after everybody including white women. That person in my context is a black woman.
Still confused? okay let me simplify it. Though not all of us are religious, many of us believe that there is something or someone greater than all of us and we give that person or thing the name God, an omnipresent powerful force beyond our human understanding. Of course if you’re an atheist then this would not apply to you. But enough people in the world believe that there is a God somewhere out there or inside you and everywhere.
So when, we, those who believe in the God figure pray. What are we doing most of the time? Dictating tasks /orders we would like him to do for us in that day. The list is endless…
please make him give me the promotion
give me some money from petty cash
i know i was late but can you make them understand why
buy me that dress
do you love me?
okay please get me that car
make Thomas love me
clean my house
cook for me
make my children happy
buy me a new cellphone
make me famous
make me rich
oh you forgot i asked you for a man ten years ago
where is he…
why aren’t you listening to me?
why did you give her that job and not me?
she’s evil, drinks and sleeps around
I am good.
I pray everyday
why aren’t you doing what i want?
i’m right and he is wrong
so I’ll be doing you a favour if I kill him
talk to me
why are you so quiet..
please don’t make it rain tomorrow!
i love you
please make all my dreams come true.
Well… think about it. When you “pray” to God, what do you normally want him/her to do? Solve your problems. You pray to God because things aren’t going so well, you can’t do it, can’t cope, not bothered whatever the case may be – but you need stuff to get fixed. Bottom line.
However real or imaginary this God figure is, we understand at the most basic level that he/she is there for us: at our service so to speak. They are there to serve us, make us happy, get us everything we want and could ever dream of. So if we treat God like this in our secret place, in our closed hearts, how much so another human being? So we treat maids in the same way, but with even more disdain because we think they are worth- less. So it is with the black woman/maid. She must be a miracle worker, solve all our problems make our lives easier, for free or if we insist at a nominal fee. But even then we’re free to choose how much we give her, because clearly God needs or wants for nothing.
So ergo my theory on why a black woman, can be God. Because whether we smile at him and speak to her in scorn, we’re asking both of them for the same thing, we want God and the Black Woman, to do something, for our benefit and our benefit only most of the time. The answer to all our daily ” can’t deal with this – don’t know what to do with this ” messy problems. We need them to intervene in our lives and make everything okay. Fix it! There’s nothing right or wrong about our intentions but whether we pray fervently at church on our knees, or standing in the kitchen barking orders for someone to do something for us, we are always in need of something or someone, if we think God won’t do it, at least I can tell a black woman to do it by whatever means necessary whether they want to do it or not, we think. I pay you to do it, so you must do or I’ll kill you.
At least God has a break. Black women on the other hand are constantly listening to silent and loud prayers from everyone. They can make your home look like paradise in a second, but you still don’t think they are good enough for you. You treat your Dog better than the Black woman.
But the good thing about a black woman is, even though she is as powerful as God, even though she can abuse that power which you give her thinking you’re doing her favour. She chooses again and again, not to. She unlike many of us knows who God is. Which makes her the closest thing to unconditional love you can ever experience. She doesn’t like “we” all do, think that it is her who makes things happen by the strength of her own might. She knows where her power comes from. She loves and respects herself and everyone, regardless of how they treat her. She is not without mistakes, weaknesses in character, her vulnerability is the source of her her strength a strength which comes from a sacred place, a sacred union with source, our creator far outweighs her deficiencies.
She Loves more than life itself. No matter how unpleasant or belittling an experience can be. She knows where her worth comes from, and it’s not in your words, or pitiful actions or the money you pay her. She knows who God is, that’s why she can and always does, serve you regardless of what you say or do to make her less than who she really is. Doesn’t the Sun? It shines for all of us everyday, whether we deserve it or not. The Sun does not depend on our goodness or evilness to shine. It shines everyday. Regardless. Shine Black Woman.