“The Problem of Our Shame:On the Crisis of Black and Haitian Professionals, Academics, and Intellectuals in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora”

“The Problem of Our Shame:On the Crisis of Black and Haitian Professionals, Academics, and Intellectuals in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora”

Black intellectuals both in the United States and Haiti are alienated from the people they claim to represent. They’re unable to relate to the black masses nor do they have the will to power to empathize with their pain and ameliorate the black condition in both societies.

There exists a wide gap between Black and Haitian professionals, academics, and public intellectuals and the Haitian people–the Haitian masses, the Black masses, the common people, the illiterate, those who work low-paying jobs, etc.–who live in the Haitian Diaspora in the United States of America and Haiti, correspondingly.

The wall of alienation is a psychological fence that separates the Haitian intellectual from the rest of the Haitian masses. The Haitian intellectual intentionally alienates himself or herself from the common people by reason, lifestyle, taste, intellectual pedigree, cultural pride, tradition, and other preferences in life. They’re also alienated from each other by class, color, and economic distinctions. Elitism–cultural, intellectual, and ideological– is equally an enduring mark of Haitian intellectualism and professionalism, resulting in a disengaged intellectual culture, disconnected intellectual class, and underrepresented peoples in the Haitian society–both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. This separation and walls of prejudice and increasing alienation grow higher and disastrously affect every sphere of social dynamics and human interactions between the two groups.

There has to be a better or healthy way for Black and Haitian professionals, academics, and public intellectuals to engage the Haitian people and the black masses constructively without promoting a relationship of paternalism and dependence. What’s desperately needed in our society is the cultivation of a relationship that champions mutual reciprocity, respect, and interdependence.

What’s the meaning or use of your influential academic books and dazzling rhetoric, whose primary subject is black people and your Haitian people, if you’re distancing yourself from them and remain unmoved by their dehumanization, suffering, and pain. Such action will foster a politics of alienation and humiliation, and a relationship of superiority and inferiority–between “You” and “Them” (“The Other”).

Regrettably, the life of the black intellectual (i.e.Haitian intellectual) and black professional suffers from three great mischiefs or shortcomings: elitism, alienation, and disengagement.

* On a personal note: I always try to remember where I came from. I’m a son of two Haitian peasants whose parents and grandparents were also peasants. My father did not have a college degree. My mother did not graduate from high school. They worked the land in Haiti and in the U.S.A. all kinds of dirty jobs to put food on the table and send all of their seven children to school and college. I am one of their lucky sons who was the first one in the family to get a PhD. In fact, I graduated with 3 Masters degrees and 2 PhDs.

In 1979, my father came to the United States on a “boat” to seek for a better life for his family. He would spend almost twenty years of his life working two jobs–working as a construction worker, meat cutter at Publix, parking attendant, etc… in order to support and give us a better life than he had in Haiti. He was an honest and disciplined man who believed in the integrity of work and the dignity of every individual. Likewise, my mother is the most incredible person I’ve ever known. She worked her entire life to support us and provide for her children. She treats everyone with kindness, respect, care, and understanding. Both my father and mother never perceive themselves to be higher than their friends, neighbors, the people they meet in their everyday transactions or activities, or even those who were poorer than them.

What I learn from them is that no matter who I have become today, (1) I should always remember that my origins and roots are from the masses and the underclass, and that (2) I need to treat people with kindness, respect, care, and understanding. They have also taught me that (3) to neglect the masses, the poor, underprivileged families, and the least among us is to forget my origins and humble beginnings. (4) I have also learned from them that not to regard myself as a superior individual than anyone else around me– despite my successes and academic credentials. Finally, my parents have taught me that (5) knowledge comes with accountability; opportunity comes with sacrifice; and success leads to a life of giving and service.

The souls and resources of the Haitian people and peasants are not for sale. We would rather die in dignity and honor like our valiant African ancestors who sacrificed their lives, not their dignity, for our freedom and independence. If we must die today, let us die with grace like men and women of value. To be Haitian means to unashamedly proclaim our humanity and dignity in the face of aggressive imperialism, neocolonization, white supremacy,  and all forces of oppression and subjugation in the twenty-first century.

We will not be shamed and disrespected. Our glory is our dignity and humanity. Our shame is the refusal to stand in solidarity with the Haitian masses and illiterate peasants and our reluctance to affirm unapologetically our common values and shared history of suffering and humiliation. Our shame is also our cowardness to resist the oppressors of our people and to say no to alienation, elitism, and disengagement.

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Brief Thought 0n Steps toward Racial Unity and Reconciliation in Contemporary American Churches and society

Brief Thought on Steps toward Racial Unity and Reconciliation in Contemporary American Churches and society

A lot of people in the Church want to talk about racial unity and reconciliation in American (Evangelical) Churches, but they do not want to talk about the sins of racism and racial injustice and the historical causes leading to racial disunity and ethnic division in contemporary American churches and society.

How could American Churches and Christians be cured from the racial wound if they avoid the diagnosis and the painful history of race?

How could American Churches and Christians be healed from the great legacy of racial rift if they avoid discussing the historical pain and effects of racism?

Racial unity and reconciliation in contemporary American Churches and Evangelicalism is a critical and urgent project that requires a thorough investigation on how the historical causes and sins of racial injustice have pervaded every aspect of the Christian life and altered social dynamics and human relationships in the American society.

The Christian ministry of racial reconciliation and unity acknowledges how the practice of racism in our churches and society has contributed to human death, suffering, social alienation, dissociation, xenophobia, and the degradation of human dignity and the image of God in man and woman in our society and churches.

Genuine racial reconciliation ministry also looks at how race and racism in America and American churches have impacted the spheres of family, romance, economics, market, education, employment, leadership in society, leadership in the church, pastoral ministry, seminary education, residential zone, friendship, etc.

If contemporary American churches and Christians truly desire racial unity in their midst, they must embody and live the Gospel and should be ready to address these sensitive matters and the most challenging issues of our historical past. The Christian church in America will be healed from the poison of racism if American Christians are willing (1) to confront their own contribution to the problem of race and (2) to acknowledge the pain of the victims of racial oppression and violence, make reparations for historical wrongdoings, repent of their sins, and finally, genuinely seek and practice racial unity and reconciliation in their churches and in society.

 

Naomi Shihab Nye On Kindness

Naomi Shihab Nye

“Kindness”

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

source:https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/kindness

What does it Mean to say Black Lives Matters? A Biblical Perspective

What does it Mean to say Black Lives Matters? A Biblical Perspective

Allow me to reiterate this thesis statement: Violence or retaliation is not the answer to the racial crisis we’re now facing in this country.As Apostle Paul commands us Christians,”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

We have to learn to sit together, listen to each other, and find a solution to heal this national wound and transcend this national crisis.Simutaneously, we should continue praying for peace, understanding, and reconciliation in this country.

While we should sympathize with the people of France and Turkey at the moment, let’s not turn away from this predicament of human life, and the culture of violence and death in our country. If we remain silent, as we have always been and some of us still are, we will lose more lives and ultimately destroy this country. To destroy this country is to bring destruction upon ourselves. We must tackle the root of America’s culture of violence and death before we can have a genuine conversation about the value of (human) life and racial justice in this country.

The Christian Church in America has a tremendous role to play in the transformation of this culture of death and violence that dishonors God’s image in man and the sanctity of life to a culture that values human life and promotes human dignity. In the same line of thought, we need to cultivate a culture of positive values and be virtuous in our practical dealings with each other. Evangelical Christians  must engage the realm of the human intellect and the sphere of human reason to the glorious praise of the Triune and Eternal God. Correspondingly, we must also challenge the disastrous and unhealthy practices of American Evangelical Christianity in both civil and political societies that slander God’s reputation and his glorious name, as well as hinder the public witness of the Gospel.  American Christianity is a bourgeois faith. Bourgois Christianity is a dangerous religion that produces a culture of isolation and alienation. Bourgeois Christianity is selfish, arrogant, and not salvific. Bourgeois Christianity must die and be replaced by the Christianity of the cross and self-giving. Until we learn to foster a robust and consistent theology of life that is sourced in the doctrine of God and God’s majestic holiness and unconditional love for all people, Christian engagement with culture and in the public sphere will be unproductive and futile.

As we have mentioned in our previous writings, Christianity has the adequate resources to help heal the national wound, improve conversations on race relations and racial injustice,  and contribute to a more promising and constructive American life and humanism in this society. The Christianity we need in America is a transformative evangelical faith that is not afraid to affirm its past sins, its contribution to human suffering and pain, and the destruction of many individuals and families, in our culture. Evangelical Christianity must produce a new kind of species and a transformed community of faith that is  capable of sympathizing with the pain and wound of the victims of racism, racial injustice and inequality, and any type of human-inflicted oppression. Toward the process of racial reconciliation and harmony, American Evangelicals must be intentional in their doings and be ready to mourn and lament, and turn toward God for repentance and cultural renewal.

We have to allow the Word of God penetrate our hearts and pierce through our deepest cultural prejudices , our hidden sins, and human insensibilities–toward a holistic transformation of our hearts and minds, and daily living. It is only through the power of the Gospel of grace that produces sustaining life and hope we can have a change of conscience that honors Christ in our practical living and everday dealing with people.One of the greatest sins of American Evangelicalism today is that many of us know God with our hearts and not with our minds. God wants to be known both with the heart and the mind, and has willed that our knowledge of him should inform our Christian living and relationship with people.

Postcript

In the opening words of a recent sermon entitled, ” A Biblical Response to Race,” Pastor Tony Evans explains why abortion is wrong and correspondingly why racial injustice is unbiblical. His thesis is grounded on the doctrine of God and the doctrine of creation.  Here’s one of the most balanced, powerful, and articulate statements that I have ever heard on the justification of the sanctify of life, and the thesis that all life matters and therefore, black lives matter, rooted in a deep biblical theology that all people are created in the Image of God:

“All life is created in the image of God; therefore, all lives matter. however, underneath the banner that God is created all people in his image, there are equities that must be addressed. For example, the life of the unborn matters; and so, there’s the emphasis on injustice in the womb. But that injustice in the womb must be under the umbrella that is life and because all lives matter that life matters. Black lives matter as a subset of all lives matter, so any injustices to a particular group must be addressed specific to that group but under the banner that all life is created in the image of God.” Pastor Tony Evans

Do not Rob the Poor: Do Justice!

Do not Rob the Poor: Do Justice!
I’m currently working through the book of Isaiah for my devotional reading. Please allow me to share with you a provocative passage that I read this morning from Isaiah chapter 10. I will close with a brief comment.
 
1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
 
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
 
2 to turn aside the needy from justice
 
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
 
that widows may be their spoil,
 
and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
 
3 What will you do on the day of punishment,
 
in the ruin that will come from afar?
 
To whom will you flee for help,
 
and where will you leave your wealth? (Isaiah 10:1-3)
While this passage makes a clarion call to anyone to do justice, it is directed explicitly to those in power and authority, and the individuals with societal influence who use their influence and power to write off justice and promote what is deemed unjust, God-dishonoring, and evil before the Lord. The underlying truth about this passage is that God despises these people and will judge them for the miscarriage of justice and the failure to protect the weak and the oppressed. Furthermore, my summary of this passage is articulated in six points below:
1. Do to support those who rob the poor and exploit the immigrant, undocumented workers, etc. to make a profit and increase their wealth!
2. Do not associate with those who oppress the poor, the widow, and the fatherless.
3. Be on the side of the oppressed and those do not have a voice or whose voices have been silent.
4. Always be on the side of justice by walking in solidarity with the oppressed and the least among us.
5. Defend the rights (i.e. Human rights, civil rights, the right to live and exist) of those whose rights have been taken away and those whose rights have been undermined in society.
6. People who refuse to do these things or any of these things will experience God’s imminent eschatological judgment and his great day of wrath.
 
*  Our present time is characterized by an increase desire and search for wealth, power, and economic stability, as well as prominence, popularity, and high social standing. Unfortunately, many people, corporations, institutions, both private and public, will do whatever it takes–even stepping on people’s toes or employers will exploit their employers or vice versa–to get to the top. By contrary, the disciples of Christ in today’s society are called to live differently and justly in these dangerous times than those who are not following Christ and resisting justice and love.   God’s wisdom contradicts human wisdom, and his ways transcend ours. God has called the community of faith, his people, to be on the side of justice and to work robustly, consistently, and practically to affirm the value of underprivileged individuals and people–by defending their rights and take a stand against those who are mistreating, exploiting, and dehumanizing them. Failure to practice any of these things will bring dishonor to God and stimulate his wrath and judgment. He has called his people, the people of God to embrace a higher ethical and value system and to an alternative lifestyle that are contrary to worldly demands but consistent with his character and his desire for justice, righteousness, and human flourishing.