Skip to main content

Reply to "MY Way or Hell!"

As always an intriguing and thoughtful post. It has got me thinking again about the substance of African American religiosity as different/distinct from African traditional religion.

You very eloquently state that for you "the bible for me is the story of the hebrew water god and as such has nothing to do with me as I am a Nago man from the OYO (yoruba) people of Ile Ife, Nigeria." But as Brother Jim is so found of recounting, those of us in the Diaspora often have no way of particularizing our ancestry to such an extent, we are of undetermined African ancestry.

Indeed, in the work of noted African American historian of religion, Charles Long, African Americans have experienced a "second creation." We are in some respects the incarnation of Africa, indigenous America, as well as the Europe. If as one author suggests that a persons God(s) should as the sweat that oozes from their pores, how do African Americans find (their)God.

It seems to me that there are several options, each frought with difficulty:
1. They, as you suggest, adopt the religious practices and beliefs of someone else. This could be one of any number of African, European, Asian, or Indigenous.

2. They create their own religion. There are those who say that this is exactly what enslaved Africans have done and continue to do and that one of the manifestations of this is the Black Church, which although it bares resemblance to Western Christianity, is just as indebted to the West African traditions, and quite possibly indigenous communities. Thus, it cannot, or should not be assumed that master and slave are praying to the same God or share the same faith.

3. Finally, there are those such as my advisor who feels that African Americans should strive to reject theism in all its forms and embrace what he refers to as African American humanism which involves the search for complex subjectivity. In other words, all we have is us, and it is up to us to define ourselves and to make a place for ourselves in the world without appeals to some transcendent reality.

Thoughts - Comments?