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a282: Haitians and the whiteness of God (Saint-Vil comments) (fwd)

From: Jean Saint-Vil <jafrikayiti@hotmail.com>

I smiled when I read Kevin's message about God's whiteness being challenged
in Haiti these days. I smiled because, while I was home last August, I had
the personal pleasure to witness first hand that many Haitians do thirst
indeed for answers to these very fundamental (nation-making or
nation-breaking) questions.

As argued in my  book «Viv Bondye! Aba Relijyon!», it is my contention that,
in order to become whole again, each Haitian must absolutely topple two
fundamental deceits: 1) Bondye blan (God is White) and 2) Blan se Bondye
(White is God).

These twin deceits have common roots, they complement each other as far as
their extremely damaging impacts are concerned but they are not at all

1) «Bondye Blan» is the picture of Leonardo da Vinci plastered all over our
Tap-Taps; His all-size statues found in Christian Churches and Vodou temples
alike and, most importantly, in the heads of 99% of haitians as they go to
bed at night or as they close their eyes to pray, any time of the day.

2) «Blan se Bondye»: it demonstrates itself inequally dramatic ways. For
instance, the paradox faced by a brave soul like Dr. Paul Farmer who finds
himself powerless at the fact that some of his patients in Kanj insist
categorically that it be him and him alone who treats them...refusing the
care of highly competent and willing Haitian doctors who work in the same
hospital. I, you and other could certainly point to many other
manisfestations of «Blan se Bondye» in Haiti and elsewhere but, suffice it
to say that «Blan se Bondye» can be said to underly many of the
socio-political abnomalities we have been and are still observing in Haiti.
Was it not in 1998 that a group of American Pastors (the kind that have
direct access to God) lead a  Christian (mob?) to the site of Bwa Kay Iman
so they may «convert» Boukman to their good religion. The fact that, since
his childhood, the Haitian has been exposed to the picture of a black devil
at the feet of a white St.Michael might have something to do with the ease
with which these white Christian miracle workers enter our black Vodouyizan
population and do their thing. Can you imagine the reverse happening
say...in Houston, Texas? No need to go to such extremes. How many times have
you seen a majoritarily white congregation lead by a black priest or pastor?
How many times have you seen the reverse?

«Bondye blan» and «Blan se Bondye» are symbiotic twins. For Haitians who
play the game of Dominoes, I titled this section of my book «Doub manti fè
dekabès» and I really have no idea how to translate this one into english.

Don't stop praying though, because for sources, usually well-informed, I
just learned that G$d is actually green, except perhaps in countries that
just adopted the Euro.

Jafrikayiti ;-)

«Bondye kreye moun, moun kreye relijyon, vwala se relijyon ki vle montre
moun Bondye»
(God created men, men created religion, and lo comes religion pretending it
is introducing men to God)

----Original Message Follows----
From: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>
To: Haiti mailing list <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
Subject: a246:  Pina relays an unexpected question (fwd)
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002 09:13:50 -0600 (CST)

From: kevin pina <kpinbox@hotmail.com>

It is a beautiful sunday morning in Port au Prince as I sip my coffee and
listen to the songs emanating from several churches in my neighborhood. At
moments their music actually seems to find a common key while at others the
cacophony is clearly an auditory competition for God's attention.

The symbols of spirituality take on a special importance for me today as I
continue to ponder a question asked by a dear Haitian friend only yesterday.
She asked "Do you think God is a white man"? I then had to ask her why the
question had become so important in the first place. She replied that a
member of her congregation had been asked to leave last week because he said
that God was actually a black man. According to her, the congregation and
the minister, also a black man, had a near riot after this man said that as
long as they kept worshipping an image of a white Jesus and white God Haiti
would never be truly independent.

Being from Oakland,California, my first instinct was to relay the
politically correct response including devotional rainbows and spiritual
lollipops. "God has many faces and all of them are beautiful" has been my
personal mantra for quite sometime now. However, I resisted the urge to be
didactic and asked her what she thought. My friend said that she knows that
most Haitians actually do believe that God is a white man and wondered out
loud "why couldn't God just as easily be black"? I reflected and thought to
myself "now this is a truly interesting beginning of what is sure to be a
wonderful journey for her". Sometimes asking the right questions can be more
important than having all the answers.

Best Regards to everyone for the New Year!!

Kevin Pina

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«Depi nan Ginen bon nèg ap ede nèg!»

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