ROAD RULES by the Rev. Anthony Payton
Part 1 of 2
In the formative season of my salvation experience, God used three authors and their books to cultivate me spiritually, practically and intellectually. I know now it was for the work that He had placed before me. The first of these was the Bible. I couldn’t get enough of it. In the words of Solomon, “It was sweeter than honey and the honey comb,” and I had a sugar addiction. The Bible was then, and continues to be the foundation for every aspect of my life.
The second of these was J. A. Roger’s book “From Super Man to Man.” This self educated Jamaican American journalist and historian, words flooded my mind with the light of insight, concerning the genesis of the ideology of “White Supremacy,” and being a child of the South, I needed this understanding desperately. Why? Because I know what the Bible said about me, but coming from where I was coming from, many of those white people didn’t have the same view of me and those that looked liked me–even though they carried and read the same Bible. J. A. Roger help gain a depth of proud understanding about my people and it became a potent agreement for the false construct of White Supremacy.
The third of this triad of the dawning of my new day, was “Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois Speaks.” This book captured the insight, wisdom and intellect of what some heralded as a Prophet to America.
It was one speech in particular, however, that riveted itself to my spirit: “The Revelation Of Saint Orgne The Damed.” The word “Orgne” was his twist of the word Negro. In own words, Dr. Du Bois was attempting to speak a word of benediction to all the “Civilized people of the black and white community.”
In this speech he asked:
“What is this life I see? Is the dark damnation of color, real? Or simply mine own imagining? Can it be true that souls wrapped in in black velvet have a destiny different from those swathed in white or yellow silk, when all of these coverings are fruit of the same worm, and threaded by the same hands? Or must I, ignoring all seeming difference, rise to some upper realm where there is no color nor race, sex, wealth nor age, but all men stand equal in the Sun?”
Is the dark damnation of color real, is the question that has been barking at the heels of America from her inception.
• It’s the question that echoes off the walls of the hull of slaves ships headed—ironically, to a “free world.”
• It is a question that we yet ask, even with a black man in The White House.
• From Detroit to Denver, from Maine to Mississippi, from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Wayne; this question stands stubbornly in the face of this nation.
• Even with our Supreme Court ripping the heart out of the “Voters Rights Bill,” this question still remains the supreme question of American citizenship.
• It’s the question asked from the blood of those that died in Diaspora and from the blood of Trayvon Martain… Is the dark damnation of color real?
In the killing of Trayvon and in the wake of Zimmerman trial, America finds herself confronted with the dark nightmare of racism.
Like a cancer that we thought was cast out of our collective body, in this case, we are confronted with the reality of the cancerous cells still remain.
Like Jacob’s wrestling with the angel, so America—once again, wrests with the issues of race.
It was President Lyndon B. Johnson that said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”
However, we are not the first to deal with this issue. The First Century Church was confronted with it too—And if there is any hope for America’s healing the church must act as a physician. However, much like the early church, the physician has to “heal thyself.”
This installment of Road Rules was excerpted from a sermon delivered by Pastor Anthony Payton, July 26 at Come As You Are Community Church during a special “Heal Our Land” service.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.