The Joys of growing Old, Gifted and Black!
When I was a child, our mantra was “I’m Black and I’m proud and I’m saying it loud…etc.” There was more to my mantra, but its irrelevant to my discussion and reflection today.Nobody told us that we would not always be “young, gifted and black” One day you may become old, though you might still be gifted and black. What did you do with that youth? What did you do with that giftedness? What did you do with that skin? Did it limit you? Did it free you? Did it help or hurt anyone else?
These are questions for me on this 35th anniversary of our celebrating MLK’s birthday.YOUTH---
I am sure that I have never done anything as controversial as Rosa Parks. But as my hair grays, I am starting to see that this woman which I semi-regarded, I am starting to see her in the mirror. Aging Black woman, me, never been in the paper for your civil-rights actions; but, what do people see when they see you? I have a story of walking into adulthood and developing a right human esteem, in the light of perspectives that our country was working through in its attempt to shed the sad history that we were working with in the 60’s. I love America. I love that we all participate in the identity of our nation. We are wicked together and we are redeemed, politically together. “You’ve got your soul in tact!” Aretha bellowed, in her rendition of YGB. I am thankful that I am black, because it means that I don’t have to answer for the slave trade, seemed the sentiment. I don’t think that is really true, but it is a sentiment. We have our own parts in that matter. Learning forgiveness and transcendence over hard trials, through our faith in God. This lesson is very strong in the Black Church, as I have seen. 1.We must not rejoice in calamity!
2.We must not enter into the naughty behavior. 3.We must give God the glory in our rejoicing and in our sufferingAt least these three things are what is meant to have your soul in tact! None of these perspectives save us, it is true: there is a great advantage, in living for God, knowing this, though. I have seen that in my life. I grew up believing in personal and social vindication, through violence. I said to myself, if America was right to Revolt, Malcolm X is truly American. I didn’t have the benefit of the spiritual instruction that was the bedrock of the nonviolent counterpart. I was taught to fight, I had no idea, that the little phrase of Aretha would haunt my soul through out life “You got your soul in tact?” Every fight, personal and social, takes a piece of your soul out of you, from the inside out. I would have to learn that the hard, hard way.
I was a hardened, emotionally bitter 16 year old, when God took me into the school of social, mental, and physical renewal. God showed me my soul, before Him. Undone, unacceptable, none of us has a right to look at any of the injustices done to us and feel superior. God showed me that. Personally, socially, and especially spiritually there is redemption, only in Jesus. More judgment is owed to you, in your sixteen years in sin, than is owed to the whole slave trade! I better flee to Christ, He is my only hope!Martin was saying, I am a Christian. I have no right to hold any man captive, by my own retaliation. I certainly couldn’t see that part of the puzzle, while I was holding my grudges. Nonviolence was not a response of Ghandi-an imitation, only. It was the only right response, in the light of the great redemption, paid for, by our Precious and Suffering Savior.
Even with my soul intact, it took 54 years for me to see that side of the puzzle. I see that the only thing more blessed to me than Being Saved, is knowing that my soul is in tact, though my mind and my body may be deteriorating. The greater blessing than being Young Gifted and Black! I am Saved and I am Redeemed and I am saying it loud. “Get your soul in tact!”