Two years ago, I went on a prilgramage through Israel. I walked on land I’ve read about all my life. I stood in places that I had only imagined. I was baptized in the Jordan, took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee while listening to “How Great Is Our God” and I swam in the Dead Sea. The entire experience was life altering. Some memories are recorded here on my blog, some are pictured on Facebook, but there’s one I haven’t wanted to share until now.
Picture it Israel 2015…
It was around 75 degrees outside and kinda cloudy so not exactly why I’d consider swimming weather, but I definitely didn’t want to come all the way to the Dead Sea and not get in! I’m the queen of just doing stuff to say that I did it. (A blog all by itself!)
But I didn’t wanna just do it for the fun of it. We were told that the sea is dead because it’s so salty that it kills any species of animal that tries to live in it. It also has so many minerals in the thick clay textured mud at the bottom of the sea that acts as an exfoliant.
So here I am swimming and playing in the sea just enjoying my life.
And I noticed that people are putting the mud on their bodies. They have it on their arms, legs and faces. I hear them talking about how good it feels! So naturally, I have to join in. I’m not gonna miss an experience! (Especially since I’d already had a great olive scrub facial days before.)
So I joined in the fun! I could barely stand in the mud. It was so thick and sticky, but each scoop felt amazing in my hands and I loved how it felt on my skin. I knew I looked as hilarious and childlike as everyone else so I had a friend snap a pic.
I got back in the water and that’s when he said it. “Claricha, you don’t need that. You’re already Black enough.”
(I wish this guy was Black, btw.)
I didn’t even know how to respond to that. I didn’t even know if it was really happening. Before I could gather my spinning thoughts of “Did he just say?” “Lord, I know You don’t want me to go off in the middle of the Dead Sea!” “He really said that to me? To me?!” he had gleefully swam away.
That night I sought counsel from a female Black pastor who I’d bonded with on the trip. She helped me come up with a script so that I could address the statement and the next morning I delivered.
But here I am two years later, to the day, still stunned by how easily those words flowed from his mouth and how LEGITIMATELY shocked he was by my offense to the statement. He had no idea it sounded racist until I told him.
As a young person, I know how to relate to seasoned people. As a woman, I know how to be successful in a man’s world. As a Black person, I know how to live in a Whitewashed culture.
The opposite is rarely true. Privileged people are privileged because they have the luxury of living life without ever considering how their words and actions could be perceived by people in other groups.
This is just another example of why it’s sometimes a hard choice live life as a Black Christian. Church culture and Christianity don’t shield us from the unintentional and intentional traumatic Anti-Black or racist acts/words.
OhCAE… I’m done.