“Christianity and the Predicament of Black and Haitian People”
This famous Haitian theologian and public intellectual in the video (Click on the link below to watch) states that “Si vous êtes noir vous vous définissiez come chrétien, c’est une insulte à vos ancêtres.” In English, it means, “If you are black you define yourself as a Christian, it is an insult to your ancestors.” The ideology behind this statement is that Christianity is associated with slavery; blackness is against Christianity; and that Black people should embrace the spirituality of their ancestors, which the speaker calls “Vodou.” Based on the speaker’s reasoning,
1. A Jew should not associate with a German because Hitler and his German terrorists murdered about 6 million Jews, some of whom were that person’s (Jewish) ancestors?
2. A black man should not marry a white woman because the ancestors of the white woman enslaved the ancestors of the black person?
3. An Igbo should not marry a Yoruba because the Igbos murdered the ancestors of the Igbo people?
Sometimes, I just don’t understand the argument some people make to restrict people’s religious freedom and affiliation. 🧐 🧐 🧐
Arguably, this is an error of philosophical or logical fallacy. First of all, we are dealing with two different categories: religion and ethnicity/race. There’s not and should not be a necessary association between the two. For example, as a black person, I have the freedom or choice to embrace Christianity, Islam, Vodou, Hinduism, etc. As a person of African descent, I also have the freedom not to affiliate with any religion or religious tradition. As a black human being, I still have the freedom to reject theism and embrace atheism. In other words, my racial category or identity does not determine my religious identity or association. The freedom of choice is not dependent upon one’s race and ancestral identity.
In the time of slavery, some slave masters and certain Christians used Christianity to support the enslavement of African people in slave societies in the Americas. Christianity was used as an instrument to exploit, abuse, and dehumanize the African population. However, it is a logical fallacy to equate Christianity with slavery. This is a false equivalence. While many enslaved Africans were forced to receive Christianity and Christian baptism, many slaves converted to Christianity voluntarily and without any coercion. Some of the slaves who willingly embraced Christianity as their new faith were born in the American continent; others who came to the Americas were already practicing Christians in Africa.
While the deliberate exploitation of Christianity as a tool may have contributed to the predicament of some black people in the world, Christianity is not responsible for the plot of Black people in the world. Human suffering, not just black suffering, has various sources and causes.
Those who call themselves leaders and intellectuals in black communities should put a break to the victimization narrative. This rhetorical discourse has not been working effectively in Black communities and it has not changed people’s living conditions.
I remain optimistic that there are other constructive ways and methods black leaders and intellectuals could deploy to empower the people, inspire young people to be responsible citizens and committed to a cause, and to teach them to be agents of transformation in their respective communities.