*Every since the 15th century when the Portuguese missionaries visited the motherland, seems like Black people have been singing the gospel of the blues.
Not only have we experienced the worst atrocity known to man, the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, but we are still suffering , disproportionately, from every social ill plaguing the planet. If you press the average church person why this is so, he will give you a straight answer…It’s God’s will.
While many white moviegoers are curious about the cinematography of the upcoming movie, Noah and how the producers are going to cover the Biblical deluge, as an African American I am wondering how they are going to deal with “the curse of Ham.”
Although, some people may say that Noah, is just another Bible movie, the “curse of Ham” is perhaps the most universally accepted , yet , rarely discussed story in the Good Book.”
For the Biblically inclined, the story goes like this. Following the Flood, Noah got tipsy and took his clothes off. Apparently, Noah’s son, Ham , saw his nakedness and something happened. ( scholars disagree over exactly what that was. ) The incident resulted in Noah cursing Ham’s son, Canaan, making him a slave to his uncles Shem and Japheth. Some have even added that Ham was cursed to look like JJ from Good Times.
There have been numerous theological interpretations of the story , but the point here is to discuss how the “curse” was used for the enslavement of Black people and the legacy of the captivity.
Although, much of the myth surrounding “Ham’s Curse” is attributed to the Book of Genesis, the “racist” part of the story does not even come from the Bible. According to Thomas Gossett in his book, “Race: The History of an Idea in America,” the idea that Ham was cursed with “blackness” was “not found until the oral traditions of the Jews were collected in the Babylonian Talmud from the second century to the sixth century AD.”
But since many people don’t ,actually , read the Bible, they believe that black people come from a demon seed “because the Bible tells me so.”
Since the days of chattel slavery , there have been arguments for and against the idea of slavey being divinely instituted. During the 19th century, slavery advocates such as Thorton Stringfellow and Samuel Cartwright used the Holy writings to justify the practice.
However, some people used the same text to poke holes in that logic.
According to Carol Sank’s 1931 essay, “The Biblical Anti-slavery Argument of the Decade 1830-1840,” the Abolitionists countered with the argument that even if there was a curse on Canaan, “such a limited permission, certainly , neither implied approbation of the system nor justified slavery in the nineteenth century.”
So the question still remains , if African Americans are not under a Biblical curse, why did we suffer the horrors of slavey and still suffer socially and economically in the promised land of plenty?
While some may search for the answer within the confines of the Bible, perhaps the answer can be found in books like “How Europe Undeveloped Africa” by Walter Rodney or “The Destruction of Black Civilization” by Dr. Chancellor Williams. The authors point to reasons such as Capitalism, Euro-Christianity and gunpowder as the causes of our collective misery.
What is strange is that the Biblical rationale for black suffering is never discussed by white Fundamentalist Christians who take every word of the Bible , literally.
The relationship between evangelical Christians and the powerful elite who disperse the world’s resources is discussed in Jeff Sharlet’s book , “The Family.” This secret relationship should be of special interest to African people on the continent and in the Diaspora who suffer from the lack of those resources. In his book, Sharlet even accuses white Fundamental Christians with setting up a fake “black militant” organization in Washington DC called “the Black Buffers ” in 1968 to counter the outrage that resulted from the assassination of Dr.Martin Luther King during the height of the Black Power Era.
Some may ask why it is important to discuss an ancient Biblical text . The reason is that not only has white America bought into the myth of a curse of blackness , but African Americans, as well. This is even reflected in Hip Hop , as artists such as the late Notorious BIG would rap about being ” black and ugly as ever.” And countless others have made millions promoting the idea that Black people are “natural born killers.”
Until, we stop believing that our misfortunes are a curse from God, we will never be able to defeat the devils responsible for our oppression.
In reality, the real curse did not come from Noah, but is the result of a social , economic and political agenda promoted by Fundamental Christians and their powerful friends .