A Psalm to my Ancestors – Rev. Kwame Pitts; Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, South Holland, IL

ThomasLinda sittingInvariably, in the lives of virtually every Christian of African descent, there comes a time where you have to reflect upon the ways that white supremacy have made their mark on you – all the more so if you are a pastor. In our second post celebrating African Descent History month, this week’s author, Rev. Kwame Pitts (LSTC, 2015), shares some of her own powerful journey in her inimitable poetic style – and how she mines the richness and vitality of her African spiritual roots in her work as a Christian and Lutheran pastor. Read, comment, and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”


“By re-recognizing a pagan understanding of our origins and the dynamics of culture, cultivation and worship and by returning to a connection with our roots and origins, we might begin to reestablish a sacred immediacy as the foundation for an equitable, universal, and human global society, one with its feet on the ground and its head challengingly but no less compassionately in the heavens.” (York, 2003).

16559121_10210608159293156_7099126_n.jpg
Olofi – Creator-God

This, more or less is confessional,

This is not your typical,

“Let me share with you,

Why I am proud to be Black.”

This, is not your typical theological insightful blog post,

More confessional,

Because for the life of me,

Not sure why,

The Creator has me simultaneously

Dancing down dual pathways

Last January, as a part of African Descent Month, Chicago Theological Seminary hosted a lecture, film showing, and worship surrounding the Yoruba culture and religion. The highlight for me personally was the lecture given by Dr. Tracey Hucks on the subject of Yoruba Religion and its intersectionality with African American culture and experience. In her book Yoruba Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism, she states “The religious nationalism of African American Yoruba would proclaim a new epistemology of the sacred and provide an important reflection upon the past.” (Hucks, 2012)

We,

As people of African Descent

Are willing

And eager

To claim

Who We Are

To claim

Africa

Her Culture

Her Resources

Her Resiliency

Her Power

But we shy away at how She connects

Welcomes in

The Divine!

197389_orig.jpg
Yoruba women.

We,

As African Americans

Have had to be creative,

Fashioning from the unmalleable life we were handed

Something new here

Born from the ashes of violence,

Occupying our sacred bodies

From the erasure of our sacred tongue

From the silencing

Of our Rites,

Our rituals

Our communing in the midst

Of spiritual mysteries

We,

A maligned

Abused

Subjugated people

16507483_10210608189093901_181591855_n.jpg

Radically

Painstakingly

Began to transform

Our narrative

In hostile lands

To try to siphon off the poison of the status quo

The dominant white culture

The oppressor,

So we,

As African Americans

Could reclaim our humanity.

But,

The lies remained.

tumblr_n7i5h3Iz6l1s6k24uo5_250.png
“This has become a battle between good and evil; Satan has a question.” from “X” , directed by Spike Lee – click here to watch.

 

The questions that Malcolm X addresses in this scene is whether the original disciples were Black

Whether Jesus was Black.

How often have we,

As people of Color,

Been surrounded with portraits

Pictures

Paintings

Seeing God as white,

And coming to the conclusion

That is why God has not heard our cries

Our pain

And has abandoned us

Because God obviously did not look like us.

These are Lies.

Fed through the lens of Christianity,

Twisted

In the hands

Of the

Oppressor.

16507764_10210608160013174_622846065_n.jpg
Mama Dantor

But the Creator has not abandoned us,

Never has.

Because we are Children of Nature,

Children of the Light

The Creator of All

Has given us…

Now,

This is where many of you will disagree with me.

I am not asking you to abandon the faith of those beloved mothers and fathers

I am asking you to dig into your roots

Honor

Recognize

The Creator by Ancient Names

Olofi

Obatala

Oldumare

I am asking you to listen to the drums…

And when you hear them

Will you respond?

“The African understanding of the supreme deity as Creator and preserve of all that is implies divine order and harmony both in and among the realms of spirit, nature and history. In the realm of spirit that hierarchical relationship among the supreme deity, the subdivinities, and the ancestral spirits is the paramount exemplar order and harmony, and African peoples seek to emulate it in their familial and tribal communities.” (Douglas, 2005).

And yet, our ancient ways of celebrating and worshiping God have been demonized.

If we are to celebrate African Descent History month, we must lift up all

Because the institutionalization

Of white American Christianity

Has unfortunately

Stalled

The

Revolution

Attempting to snuff out the LIGHT

Of a People.

“The West’s progressive turning away from functioning spiritual values; its total disregard for the environment and the protection of natural resources; the violence of inner citites with their problems of poverty, drugs, and crime; spiraling unemployment and economic disarray; and growing intolerance towards people of color and the values of other cultures…will eventually bring about a terrible self-destruction.” (Somé , 1994).

16559422_10210608169813419_1920782979_n.png

There is the confession

Of fear.

I fear for us,

The Children of Light,

Children of Nature

Whom they

Are trying to erase our presence

And therefore I am at this crossroads,

Where

I am dancing along two paths.

There are t-shirts being sold on the internet that say-

“I am my Ancestor’s dream”

Let’s not allow these dreams to fade,

And die.

Ase.


13938421_10208977974099545_5282319197550592525_n.jpgThe Rev. Kwame Pitts, a LSTC alum (M.Div, 2015) dances with the both/and: Serving her Call to be a prophetic Witness of the Gospel as a Rostered and Ordained Pastor in the ELCA; causing chaos whether it is through voting rights (#ELCAVOTES) or contemplating how everyone should be visible in the institution of the Church, especially as the status quo attempts to quell the presence of many voices (#decolonizeLutheranism). When not challenging the institution of Christianity, she has entered the fray of theology/academica once more (S.T.M) in the fertile ground of Chicago Theological Seminary as well as deepening her ties to her Ancestors and exploring the empowering life found in Ifa and Vodoun as resource and a source of liberation theology for the here and now.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “A Psalm to my Ancestors – Rev. Kwame Pitts; Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, South Holland, IL

  1. TrybalDaughter

    Reblogged this on Transforming Change; The Beginning or The End? and commented:
    Pierre Bourdieu interprets and defines of habitus eludes to “a deeply buried structure that shapes peoples dispositions to act in such ways that they wind up accepting the dominance of others or of the system”. This clearly plays out especially through faith and spirituality, in that most colonized/formerly enslaved peoples in North America have taken on what is considered truth that was forcibly fed to them from white Christian slave owners to white Christian colonizers and missionaries. James Baldwin eludes to culture as “not a community basket weaving project, nor yet an act of God; being nothing more or less than the recorded and visible effects on a body of people of the vicissutes which they have been forced to deal with” and this is key to beginning the conversation of resistance.

    Incorporating our organic way of celebrating and worshiping the Creator IS the beginning of liberation and resistance.

    Sharing my words and thoughts, as I offered through Dr. Linda Thomas’s blog: We Talk, We Listen.

    Like

  2. Pingback: A Psalm to my Ancestors – Rev. Kwame Pitts; Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, South Holland, IL – Transforming Change; The Beginning or The End?

  3. Jess Peacock

    This is a powerful piece and continues me down a thought I’ve been entertaining since our BLM class on Friday. That thought being, is Christianity still for white people (or has it ever been)? Scripture continually highlights the voice from below, the voice of the oppressed, the voice that has been marginalized by empire and oppression. In addition, liberation theologians such as Gutierrez and Cone understand that God takes sides, and that God is unequivocally on the side of the oppressed. That said, white people have always been the oppressor, always the source of empire, always the ones in control. As such, can God be for white people per se? Can Christianity be a faith system that can or should speak to white people? This is not to say that white people can’t participate in Christianity, it is to say that Christianity simply is not a religion FOR white people, who have done more damage than good to the faith by whitewashing biblical stories, theology, and, ultimately, the Divine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karl Anliker

    This weekend at Trinity Church of Christ the Anthem declared “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Beautiful” drawing from Song of Solomon 1:5 declaring God’s people Black AND Beautiful. Rev. Dr. Otis called for this to be an anthem for all young people and a song that could transform the perceptions of black bodies. It’s as if the music from this weekend is pressing behind these poetic words from Rev. Kwame Pitts. Rev. Dr. Otis spoke of how the words from the Song of Solomon had been twisted in the hands of the white oppressor to be black BUT beautiful or black YET beautiful. The lens of Christianity and indeed the very scriptures have and are being twisted in the hands of the oppressor. However, I give thanks to God for the voices raised in clear articulation of the authentic Gospel! Thank you Rev. Kwame Pitts for your artful and piercing words which hold all those who proclaim, depict, and write about God accountable.

    Like

  5. Deborah Taylor

    I agree with Jess, “Can God be for white people? As a back woman and Christian; I know that we are children of God and the Holy Spirit leads and guides us. Romans 8:14-15: states, “ For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you receive brought about your adoption to sonship.” Through “sonship” God has made us entitled and equal partner in all that is offered to others.
    Our Ancestors survived in a cruel and hostile world. We are also, living in that same world as much as others think we are not. We live in this world now accompanied by our Ancestors, that live on inside us and give us their Spirit to continue not to be afraid, stand up for our rights, have no fear as we stand before God and love one another. These are moral rules and the rules of God. White privilege has allowed white people to disavow these rules and trample on others. Black Lives Matter.

    Like

  6. Megan Clausen

    Reverend Kwame- Your powerful, vulnerable, beautiful witness has expanded my world view once more. My images of the creator are broadened and deepened. I too, was at Trinity UCC, like Karl, and heard Dr. Moss’s powerful sermon about black people proclaiming that they are unashamedly black and unapologetically beautiful. To hear these two powerful, beautiful pieces together was a gift to me and now hold me even more accountable to breaking down systems of white oppression of black bodies as part of Christian witness.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s