maybe i’m just a mean old heifer.

i don’t know. basically, yesterday, my intern (he’s 16) asked me if i understood what mos def was talking about in his songs. that is, asked, “you hear the messages in his music, talking about the third eye and all that?” i blinked. i replied, “yes, i hear him. & i don’t think what he’s saying is wrong, necessarily.” intern then says, “it’s a shame that he thinks that way,” or something like that. i had to take a deep breath, then politely inform youngin that no matter how much you listen to someone’s music, you’re only gonna begin to align your personal beliefs with what’s expressed in their music if you feel you should. i give my brain more credit than that. i also had to let intern know that it’s not ever okay to assume that (a) someone is a particular religion, (b) that they wanna have religion-based conversations with you, or (c) that anyone withn hearing range wants to be party to such a discussion. we work in city government. that’s a really bad idea. i also had to let him know, that whatever a person believes (or doesn’t believe) about god, it’s not any other human being’s business. period. he got kinda quiet. then said “i didn’t wanna get up in your business, i was just sayin . . . he shouldn’t think that way.” i didn’t waste time asking why. because i choose not to have that kind of talk with ppl at my job — i barely talk to ppl outside of work about my faith tradition or anything religion-related. i just reminded him that assumptions aren’t okay. i left it at that.

i know this child to be very much into church, into being a ‘warrior for christ,’ as i’ve heard him say. (that shit makes me cringe, just for the record) i know that he reminds me of myself when i was about 12. i thought i had to be extra preachy gospelly . . . that i had to tell the world about jesus & tell ppl they’re wrong for being non-christians. of course, as i got older, i realized that i love secular music. i also realized that i didn’t necessarily think jesus was my savior. i had questions that were not being answered by anything i read in the bible, nor did i have questions that were being answered by my elders. i also found that i disliked the idea that i had to maintain some standard of purity in my life, lest my humanity allow me to fall prey to the tools / whims of satan . . . who really was just a disgruntled former angel in the first place. there were too many holes. too many things that made no sense to me. so i kinda sat back & watched. i let everyone who identified as a christian show me how they were far from emulators of jesus christ himself. i shrugged, shook it off, & kept moving.
i dunno, my whoooooooole entire family (save my grandfather, one uncle & maybe one or two relatives by marriage) lean on jesus extra hard. that’s cool, if it works for them. i think my baby sister might be one of us witchy yoruba santeria lucumi vodou candomblé goddess worshiper types. but i dunno for sure. my overwhelming feeling is that black folks allow whether or not someone is a christian be their deciding factor in regard to whether or not that person is acceptable.
there’s a fatal flaw in that: there are folks who you may attend church with, who still don’t have the same values you do, for whatever reason(s). i come from a family that values dialog but is still at times very authoritarian. my mother taught my two sisters & me to be as critically-thinking as possible. that didn’t go terribly well with my grandmother, grandfather & two uncles. but they all managed to get the hell over it at some point — they created little encyclopedia-reading monsters who never stopped wondering/ creating/ thinking. & it became okay. nerdiness is woven into the fabric of my family, & along with that comes talking & introduction of new ideas. my extended family identifies as christian, but what about the nurturing of growth/ encouragement of education that i experienced at home? if it doesn’t apply to them does that automatically make them bad/ wrong?
but i’m getting off topic. my basic idea about exclusively using your religion as a measuring stick for others — especially & including those who identify within the same religion — is that your measuring stick is the result of your interpretation almost exclusively. that’s not accurate. furthermore, variables are unavoidable. people vary. period. that’s a dangerous thing. it’s like fitting a square peg into a very round hole.
i hope intern learns as he gets older that that kinda shit isn’t okay. he may not — he comes from a position of privilege within the social circles where he exists. patriarchy rules supreme in his world (the worst thing i’ve ever heard come out of this child’s mouth is that no woman should ever break up w/ her high school sweetheart just because she doesn’t wanna have a long distance relationship), & it guarantees his comfort. so, i don’t know. he has no idea what this wide world holds for him as a black male in america.
i hope he he learns, though. gently, easily, gradually. because the next person may not even entertain the idea of being sweet or diplomatic. i know what it is to have everything you believe in snatched out from under you. but then again, he may need that . . .

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dark Daughta
    Sep 08, 2007 @ 17:29:00

    He will need it. It’s probably the only thing that will shake the roots of his understanding and offer him a fighting chance of fully educating himself about who he is and about what exactly it means to be a Black male, in or outside Black community. Thanks for this. I think I got a little triggered as I’ve often met just this sort of person at community events. They hold to the whole love the sinner, hate the sin doctrine which means that they will smile at me, but get really angry when I would read from my writings. So sad. From where they’re standing, I’m the odd one. :)

    Reply

  2. sweetness
    Sep 08, 2007 @ 20:38:00

    wow. yeah…

    i used to feel kinda left out when my friends would talk about church and all the friends they had there and the activities, etc…

    but as i’ve gotten older, i’ve realized that in many ways the lack of that sort of indoctrination has served me far better. my fall off the wagon was not nearly as far or as hard.

    Reply

  3. [Kriz Vakti. .. Sin Içime.. ]
    Sep 09, 2007 @ 09:07:00

    oww hello
    your blog is very good.
    my blog is http://www.canimaciyo.blogspot.com

    Reply

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