When Billie Holiday performed Strange Fruit, a song meant to shed light on the horrible reality of lynching, she was hunted until her death by those who suggested that the song incited violence. That was the excuse used to prevent her from singing a song that did not convey a message of violence but expressed concerned about the lynching of blacks throughout the country. According to the NAACP, 4,743 were lynched in the United States from 1882-1968 and 72.7% of those people were black.
We live in a world where inciting acts of violence through free speech continues to cost the lives of many people throughout the world. It’s sad that the incitement is most visible within those in a position of power. This poem was written to express concern about the current political climate. It was not written to incite any type of violence.
About an hour outside Cartagena, Colombia is a little town with a big history. San Basilio de Palenque has about 3500 inhabitants and was formed by African slaves who escaped Spanish rulers 400 years ago. A hip hop group from the community is preserving that history with their music. Their Urban Voice is Kombilesa Mi. The Palenquero language is influenced by the Kikongo language of Angola and Congo where many of the slaves who settled in this region originated. The language is also mixed with Portuguese which was spoken by the slave traders who first brought Africans to the Americas.
Washington, D.C, District of Columbia Apr 15, 2021 (Issuewire.com) – Free Speech is a poem that was written to express concern about the current condition of the country. We live in a world where inciting acts of violence through free speech continues to cost the lives of many people. It’s sad that the incitement is most visible within those in a position of power. In the last four years, we have gotten a glimpse of what it would feel like to live in the Old Jim Crow South whereas, the GOP continues to gerrymander, promote racist rhetoric, and endanger the lives of other cultures. They do this unapologetically while implementing Christ into their plan. Many church leaders have failed to rebuke this behavior. In fact, many leaders of the church today have endorsed this behavior. In 2016, 80% of white evangelicals supported Trump and at least 75% did so in 2020. The Pew Research Centre found last year that 59% of evangelicals felt the Trump administration had helped not hurt their interests., (The Economist) including Pastor Mark Burns who noted that “Trump was fighting for Christianity”. (ABC)
However, Jesus’s fight was for a believer to live a more peaceful and spiritual life. Christ only endorsed those things pertaining to the fruits of the spirit versus the politics of the world. Christ’s message was about love and not hate. Anyone who preaches against the things that he died for in his name, walks in darkness and is blasphemous. The bible says that the devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy. When the church recognizes this behavior, it is up to them as ambassadors of Christ to rebuke this conduct.
In 2015, nine people were shot and killed by a white supremacist during their Wednesday night bible study. They believed that the assailant was in search of spiritual guidance, so they welcomed him with open arms. After an hour of learning about the impartial Christianity of Christ, the assailant did not have a change of heart. He went through with his plan. During the trial, the defendant pointed out that “anyone who hates anything, in their mind, has a good reason for it”. Proverbs 26:24-26 states: “Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred is covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.”
For hundreds of years, white slave owners have used the bible to justify their actions. Fredrick Douglas noted that his slave master would quote this passage of scripture—‘He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, as he would brutally beat his slaves. Fredrick Douglas knew that this Christian religion was a fraud. He stated that: “the widest possible difference” existed between the “slaveholding religion of this land” and “the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ.” (The New Yorker)
How can one be a true follower of Christ and not believe in liberty and justice for all? How can a follower of Christ not believe in peace when the bible says: blessed are the peacemakers? If you truly believe in Jesus, then war and violence would not be the ultimate solution. If you follow the ways of Christ, you will never create conditions that cause pain and suffering for others. Finally, a true Christian would never use Christ as means to an end.
In sum then, “what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”. (James 4:1-17)
Rima Aanjay aka Spoken Word has been performing as a spoken word/hip hop activist since 2008; calling attention to the injustices that have been plaguing African communities throughout the world. In her venture to promote black awareness, she published a magazine entitled All Shades of Brown dedicated to sharing the experiences of African Cultures across the globe. She is also the self-published author of Spoken Word for the Soul from the Soul, and a performer on albums Hip Hop Will Never Die, After the Pain, and Make Some Noise; work that has made its way around the globe.