Black Spirituality Religion : THE BIBLICAL ROOTS OF RACISM...

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Aqil, May 31, 2003.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    By the time the first English colonists arrived in the New World they had already inherited a host of associations tied to the word “black” which became important as men put language to use in first defining – and later justifying – the status they desired for the non-white.

    Before the close of the 15th century, the words “soiled” and “dirty” first became linked with “black.” By 1536, “black” connoted “dark purposes,” “malignant,” “deadly”; by 1581, “foul,” “iniquitous,” by 1583, “baneful,” “disastrous” and “sinister.”

    Before the end of the 16th century, Englishmen associated “smut” with “to mark or make dirty.” In compound nouns, tags and epithets “black” infused the English consciousness with a multitude of negative connotations:

    In 1532 “blackguard” meant variously “scullions and kitchen knaves,” and “the servants and camp followers of an army”; the devil was established as the “Black Prince” by 1563; by 1590 pagan practices fell under the title of “Black Arts,” a term which derives from the medieval Latin word “nigromantia,” itself a distortion of the Latin word “necromantia.” Hence, for the Elizabethan, “Black Arts” was linked with “magic,” “necromancy,” “death,” “secret,” and “devilish.”

    These associations are derived from the imagery of the Bible, which asserts throughout its 1,100 pages the complicity between blackness and sin, damnation, death, despair, ugliness and evil. In Genesis, the pleasure of the Lord in the act of creation is attributed to the presence of light: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

    Job, in the depths of despair, curses the day of his conception: “Let that day be darkness...Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.” Jeremiah portrays human suffering through the symbolic power of blackness: “For this shall the earth mourn and the heavens above be black.”

    The Bible not only provided a rich harvest of imagery linking the undesirable with the black and dark, but, as well, unwittingly furnished the source for the justification of racism on “religious” grounds. In the 9th chapter of Genesis is recorded the odd story of Noah’s curse on his grandson Canaan, Ham’s son. After having “drank of the vine” and become intoxicated, Noah fell asleep nude in his tent, where the unfortunate Ham happened to see him lying naked. When Noah awoke and realized that Ham had seen him “uncovered,” he swore: “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

    Though the Biblical story, confused and obscure as it is, could easily be used to justify slavery, it makes no reference whatsoever to skin color. Yet, prior to the 17th century the legend had been embellished in numerous ways, the most important associating the “servant of servants” with Ethiopians in particular, and Africans in general. The link between the curse on Ham’s progeny and blackness had been firmly established before the first English settlements were founded in North America.

    A revealing version of the Ham legend, recorded by the adventurer George Best in 1577 while he sailed with Martin Frobisher in search – appropriately enough – of the Northwest Passage, interpreted the Biblical account in terms which presage the qualities of contemporary racism...

    After a rambling “scientific” discourse about the effects of the Sun on the Earth’s climate, Best paused to correct a popular misconception: Many people had been deceived into thinking that “the parching heat of the Sun” explained why Ethiopians “are coal black,” with “hair like wool curled short.” If proximity to the Sun caused these racial features, Best reasoned, why are not other peoples who dwell in the same latitude, such as “those Americans and Indians,” also black and curly-haired, “seeing the Sun is equally distant from them both.” Obviously, one should expect to find a common hue among all peoples living in regions equally distant from the Sun.

    Since Best’s own observations refuted this, he rejected the environmental causation of complexion and turned to a more likely explanation: “The most probable cause of the Ethiopians’ great blackness proceeds from some natural infection. I myself have seen an Ethiopian as black as coal brought to England, who, taking a fair English woman to wife, begot a son in all respects as black as the father was, although England was his native country and an English woman his mother. Whereby it seems this blackness proceeds rather from some natural infection of that man, which was so strong that neither the nature of the climate nor the good complexion of the mother concurring, could anything alter.”

    Having thus established the “cause” of unalterable blackness, it remained only to explain the reason why this ineradicable disease first infected mankind. The solution to this problem was found in the Bible, where, Best claimed, we may not only “examine the origin of these men,” but also discover “how by lineal descent they have continued thus black.”

    According to Best, Noah, shortly after entering the Ark with his three sons and their wives, “straightly commanded his sons and their wives that they should behold the justice and mighty power of God, and while they remained in the Ark, they should use continence and abstain from carnal copulation with their wives.” But Ham, “like our old father Adam while living in his angel-like state, “fell under the influence of our great and continual enemy, the Wicked Spirit.” Believing that “the first child born after the flood should – by right and law of nature – inherit and possess all the dominions of the Earth, he (Ham) used company with his wife, and craftily went about to disinherit the offspring of his other two brethren.”

    The consequence of this “act of disobedience” was that God command “a son should be born whose name was ‘Cush,’ who not only him, but all his posterity after him should be so black and loathsome that it might remain a spectacle of disobedience to all the world. And of this black and cursed Cush came all these black Moors which are in Africa.”

    After the waters of the flood had subsided, and Noah’s children separated, Ham and “his black son Cush” went to dwell in Africa, “a cursed, dry, sandy and unfruitful land, fit for such a generation to inhabit.” Lest any of his readers had missed the point, Best repeated that “the cause of the Ethiopians’ blackness is the curse and natural infection of the blood, and not the temperature of the climate.”

    This astonishing mosaic of 16th-century racist fantasy, widely distributed and read as part of the famous collection of travel narratives Hakluyt's Voyages, and published independently in 1578 under the title of George Best’s Discourse, provides an outstanding (but hardly unique) example of the multitude of ways in which Elizabethan attitudes linked blackness with evil. Before Best is finished dunning his “infection theory,” he has associated “the great blackness of Ethiopia” with:

    [1] a curse by God, [2] servitude, [3] the indelible badge of sin, [4] punishment, [5] lack of restraint over sexual impulse, [6] defiance of paternal authority, [7] violation of filial ties, [8] infection and incurable disease, [9] a fallen state below that of Adam, [10] the devil, [11] greed for property and power, [12] lust, [13] connivance, and [14] geographical segregation on “unfruitful ground.”

    No wonder when Dr. Benjamin Rush, a humanitarian and opponent of slavery, wrote about the African’s skin color, his essay, published in America in 1794, was titled, "Observations Intended to Favor a Supposition That the Black Color of the Negro is Derived From Leprosy." He was merely giving a name to what George Best had already discovered: that blackness was a disease in the eyes of the white man.

    These few examples of Elizabethan attitudes, perceptions and fantasies could be greatly expanded upon, but those presented above are sufficient enough to indicate that the psychic and emotional climate in which the Englishman encountered the African in the 17th century was so polluted with a deadly combination of associations, images and preconceptions, that social equality, humane treatment, and respect for cultural difference were far beyond the pale for the mass of Englishmen.

    As C. Vann Woodward has written: “Long before Jamestown was founded the English had associated slavery with blackness, heathens, captivity and Biblical injunction.” When the inevitable contact between the races occurred, Englishmen were unconsciously prepared to project the content of centuries of hostile fantasies onto the people of Africa, of which white Americans are just beginning to comprehend...
     
  2. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Blackness is a disease in the eyes of the white man...

    and the Bible tells me so... :(
     
  3. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    in those eyes blackness unfolded unto the darken colour skin
    to be of sin and forth laid a map of hate & Racism .................
    this was very insightful
    wow!!!
     
  4. j'hiah

    j'hiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    So what :lol: :rolleyes: . The receptiveness from most black people is how beautiful they are in God's eyes and not "the white man's" eyes where you emphasize.
    Here is what the Bible really tells you about blackness (darkness) in 2nd Chronicles 5-6 "Then said Solomon, The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick darkness". Maybe you missed that one.
    ln Psalms 97:2, the Bible tells you that "Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.".
    Try Psalms 18: 11-12 where Darkness and Light are intertwined in meaning and description. Darkness is not literally used at all at degrading the race of black people. ln the Bible, darkness does not imply "my skin is my sin"; if that were the case, try 2nd Kings 27:5-6 where Naaman was leprous, sick and "...white as snow. lf "the white man" (as you say) or any man is trying to "white-wash" the Bible or if our people are being misled by their devious interpretations, refer them to Exodus 2:19 where Moses is undeniabley a black Egyptian. Guide them to the Book of Acts where Paul is assumably an Egyptian (who is black). Explain to them the black and royal genealogy of Jesus more than you would the racists who failed at undermining. They (those who are racists) can't win!! Teach them the words and their meanings if you can.
    The Bible from the dust of the ground to the triple darkness (where God dwells) is full of black, royal people but most of all, full of God's Love through the Son through whom is Life and Redemption. Aqil, may these be your paths of enlightenment for our brothers and sisters so they wont believe the lies.

    black is beautifull and so is God's Word!!
     
  5. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Jehiah, here is the text that contains the statement you are referring to:

    Having thus established the “cause” of unalterable blackness, it remained only for Best to explain the reason why this ineradicable disease first infected mankind. The solution to this problem was found in the Bible, where, Best claimed, we may not only “examine the origin of these men,” but also discover “how by lineal descent they have continued thus black.”

    According to Best, Noah, shortly after entering the Ark with his three sons and their wives, “straightly commanded his sons and their wives that they should behold the justice and mighty power of God, and while they remained in the Ark, they should use continence and abstain from carnal copulation with their wives.” But Ham, “like our old father Adam while living in his angel-like state, “fell under the influence of our great and continual enemy, the Wicked Spirit.” Believing that “the first child born after the flood should – by right and law of nature – inherit and possess all the dominions of the Earth, he (Ham) used company with his wife, and craftily went about to disinherit the offspring of his other two brethren.”

    The consequence of this “act of disobedience” was that God command “a son should be born whose name was ‘Cush,’ who not only him, but all his posterity after him should be so black and loathsome that it might remain a spectacle of disobedience to all the world. And of this black and cursed Cush came all these black Moors which are in Africa.”

    After the waters of the flood had subsided, and Noah’s children separated, Ham and “his black son Cush” went to dwell in Africa, “a cursed, dry, sandy and unfruitful land, fit for such a generation to inhabit.”


    Lest any of his readers had missed the point, Best repeated that “the cause of the Ethiopians’ blackness is the curse and natural infection of the blood, and not the temperature of the climate.”

    This astonishing mosaic of 16th-century racist fantasy, widely distributed and read as part of the famous collection of travel narratives "Hakluyt's Voyages," and published independently in 1578 under the title of "George Best’s Discourse," provides an outstanding example of the multitude of ways in which Elizabethan attitudes linked blackness with evil. Before Best is finished dunning his “infection theory,” he has associated “the great blackness of Ethiopia” with:

    [1] a curse by God, [2] servitude, [3] the indelible badge of sin, [4] punishment, [5] lack of restraint over sexual impulse, [6] defiance of paternal authority, [7] violation of filial ties, [8] infection and incurable disease, [9] a fallen state below that of Adam, [10] the devil, [11] greed for property and power, [12] lust, [13] connivance, and [14] geographical segregation on “unfruitful ground.”

    No wonder when Dr. Benjamin Rush, a humanitarian and opponent of slavery, wrote about the African’s skin color, his essay, published in America in 1794, was titled, "Observations Intended to Favor a Supposition That the Black Color of the Negro is Derived From Leprosy." He was merely giving a name to what George Best had already discovered: that blackness was a disease in the eyes of the white man...


    Thanx for the Biblical references...
     
  6. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I wasn't looking for it...however, we know that God dwelt in darkness..."from the darkness came the Light."

    Here is the verse in its entirety:

    "The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne."

    And your point?

    You're right, Jehiah. In the Bible light and darkness are translated as knowledge and ignorance...
     
  7. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    And Jehiah, when I said, "and the Bible tells me so" I was referring to the 9th chapter of Genesis. Quoting from my thread:

    "The Bible not only provided a rich harvest of imagery linking the undesirable with the black and dark, but, as well, unwittingly furnished the source for the justification of racism on 'religious' grounds...

    In the 9th chapter of Genesis is recorded the odd story of Noah’s curse on his grandson Canaan, Ham’s son. After having 'drank of the vine' and become intoxicated, Noah fell asleep nude in his tent, where the unfortunate Ham happened to see him lying naked. When Noah awoke and realized that Ham had seen him 'uncovered,' he swore: 'Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren...'"
     
  8. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The “curse of Ham” is probably the most common racist argument made from the Bible. Slaveholders and some missionaries taught that Noah's sons Shem, Ham and Japheth represent Asians, Blacks, and Caucasians respectively.

    The reasoning presumes that Jesus was Caucasian, though this is incredible since people in the Near East aren’t white. According to Genesis 9:18 Ham was Black. It says that he was the ancestor of the Canaanites, whom God said to annihilate. This obviously leads to genocide, slavery and outright exploitation.

    Noah cursed Canaan, Ham’s son, for his perversity, which continued in the Canaanite people. And - the false argument goes - Blacks are still cursed, which explains their poverty and struggles. The visible mark of the curse is dark skin.

    This false argument has been leveled against Black people by white racists and religious bigots. In the south the “curse of Ham” argument is still widespread...
     
  9. AACOOLDRE

    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    "They (those who are racists) can't win!! Teach them the words and their meanings if you can". This should be the standard quote being used by many. The Bible was written in symbolic lanquage. The negative things about black/darkness wasn't refering to skin color of human beings.
     
  10. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    You're right dre...

    Though the Biblical story, confused and obscure as it is, could easily be used to justify slavery, it makes no reference whatsoever to skin color. Yet, prior to the 17th century the legend had been embellished in numerous ways, the most important associating the “servant of servants” with Ethiopians in particular, and Africans in general. The link between the curse on Ham’s progeny and blackness had been firmly established before the first English settlements were founded in North America...
     
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