From Chapter One: Black American

I am not so bold to propose that I may illustrate the experience of the entire African diaspora in America. On the contrary, I aim to share my very limited, lived experience in Nashville, Tennessee. This experience, limited though it may be, is an optic through which every Catholic, and truly every Christian, can view aspects of God and faith that they may not have otherwise seen.  Given our country's history, in addition to the current climate of racial hostility, every American Catholic has a responsibility to be more educated about black American culture so that they may grow in love of God and love of neighbor.

To be black in America is to be frustrated with both the status quo of our culture, and the apathy of our government and our fellow citizens to this condition. Many Americans assert black people need to “get over” slavery so they can thrive like “the other minorities.” Asian Americans work hard, have to earn their citizenship, and thrive both socially and financially. Why can’t blacks follow this example? This logic is rampant.

 

Black Americans cannot simply “get over slavery.” Our African heritage, and the unique nature of inheriting that patrimony on American soil, is a reality that continues to affect our daily lives. For many of us to be African in America is to have our blood in the soil of this country, but our hearts lost somewhere in the Atlantic. We are American, yet this is not our homeland, and we did not choose to be displaced here.  To say black Americans choose a slave mentality is to be woefully ignorant of the debt that was paid for our American citizenship.

I, too, am sick of speaking about slavery. I’m also sick of black men being murdered by police. Of black children being denied a quality education. Of black men being underemployed and overly imprisoned. Of black women being overburdened and underappreciated. The solution is not to stop the conversation. When every American is speaking of the nasty lingering effects of slavery, it is then that I will be content to remain silent.