The Wendy Williams show is one of my guilty pleasures. Although her worldview is secular and unashamedly superficial, she is a thoughtful woman who promotes black culture so I find myself getting sucked in...everyday. Wendy was DJ in the 1990's, so she lived the golden age of American hip-hop and R&B. I’m usually drawn in by her insights on music and pop culture. However, a recent show she featured a black woman with a PhD in organic chemistry who partnered with Head and Shoulders to create a new product line for black hair called Royal Oils. I am always looking for new products for my own Afro that include less chemicals, so I was fascinated a chemist produced such a product. But of course the most thought-provoking part is the title of the new line.
Royal Oils can be interpreted many different ways. Africa was a continent that had many great monarchs in antiquity, and still boasts of royalty today.
The royalty of Africa inspires my Catholic imagination to ponder the King of the Universe. When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ at mass, through grace, we are conformed to the kingship of Jesus and receive the eternal inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.
This week I gave a presentation at Colorado College about the lingering effects of racism in 21st century America. As I was preparing the talk I wanted to demonstrate that history of police brutality towards the black community, in particular during the Civil Rights protests and most recently in the extra-judicial execution of black men. The Holy Spirit lead me to a meditation on blood spilled by violence and how it echoes the cry of God the Father in response to Cain slaying his brother Abel.
God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! -Genesis 4:10
When I see black men murdered by the police over and over again, I am twice grieved. Grieved by the lack of concern for black life and grieved by the apathy. The blood of black men is dear to all of us who share their royal bloodline, but how much more is that blood worth to the father who fashioned each individual and endowed them with a soul of infinite worth and potential.
Person hood is always at the center of the struggle for justice and equality. When the value of a human life is disregarded it is a failure to acknowledge infinite dignity and worth.
Catholics and truly all believers must strive to see each individual as God sees them, sons and daughters of an eternal kingdom.