I often feel like Moses. Born and raised in a land that was not my own. With a people who were not my own. But I thought it was home. I thought they were mine. That’s what I was told. That was all I knew. Oh, the bliss of not knowing. Of walking through life taking it all at face value. This land, this nation, my schools, churches, my friends. We were all where we were meant to be. I was born in this multicultural mecca, this glorious mosaic. Give praise. I knew Christ. He loved me before I ever knew him. Through him, I had a family, a home. One that was eternal. What a joy, what a comfort, what a life!
Over the years, I’m sure I noticed some discrepancies. But I brushed them off. Those were anomalies. People mean well. We’re home. We’re family! But I knew something was off. I started to wander outside the palace walls. Eavesdropping on conversations that I was told were wrong. The follies of slaves. And yet there was something to them. I saw myself in their lament, in their poetry, and songs. I recognized the voice of their prophets. Could this be true? Could I be one of them? The Bible says that one cannot serve two masters. Either you hate one and love the other. And the longer I mingled among the proles of our collective Egypt, to more unsettled I became.
Eventually, I had to come to terms with the truth. I could no longer ignore that the home I had loved, the home that had raised and made me, that had called me its own, was not my home. I was a transplant on this land. Here by necessity and birth but not by heritage, blood or free desire. I didn’t choose this land or nation. It can be argued that my parents did. But did they? Is it really a choice when lives are on the line?
My spiritual home was no more my own. I knew its customs, practiced the rituals, memorized the holy texts, led in the temple. But I was not of them. My people, the ones who have sacrificed story, autonomy, language, and home for the sake of this kingdom — my kingdom — they had a different vernacular. Their customs differed from the ones I had learned, their mythology was built on a different deity. How had I never met this God of deliverance? Why was mine so angry, so vengeful, so readily appeased by the blood, anguish, and labour of these people?
Is this how Moses felt when he finally realized the truth? When he woke up to the reality that he had been raised, fed, protected and loved by the fruit of oppression? Not just any oppression but the oppression of his own. He probably hadn’t processed much more than his raw emotion when he murdered that Egyptian guard. His righteous rage got the best of him.
I understand that. Trauma will fuck you right up. And it is mighty traumatizing to realize that all you had ever known was essentially a lie. Those years in the desert probably didn’t fix it for him either. I know because it hasn’t fixed me. 2 years of wandering and I still think of my Egypt more than I care to. I still listen in on the news of this kingdom and I weep, rant and rage. How could they still be doing this? Did they not care about me? Shouldn’t their love for me mean they should love my people? Should they not want us to live free?
Alas, it is not that simple. And so I go back to my proverbial sheep. Build new relationships, love new people and hope against hope that one day, I’ll eventually forget about the land that made me. I’ll eventually forget what I know about who I am. That maybe I’ll move on and be happy again away from the grief and confusion, away from the pain and the strife. The thing about those things is that we carry them within. I brought the grief, confusion, pain, and strife with me. It followed me and never left.
But I am beginning to think that these groanings will never leave me. I will always be haunted by the tears and the cries of my people:
Of fellow black and brown people who have lost touch with their past. No longer aware of their ancestors, having no recollection of their native tongues and rituals. Crying out to be rooted. To know themselves. To be home.
Of fellow queer people, simply wanting to live. To thrive. To not be killed or want to be killed. My siblings who just long for love and home without fear or judgment. Daily fighting for their humanity, joy, and hope.
My fellow Haitians who are some of the most resilient and resourceful people to walk this earth. Who made the best of their displacement and have been cursed by those in power for declaring their worth, for fighting for their autonomy. The world has never let us forget the price of our freedom. We have spent our entire existence paying that price, being a living example of what happens when you deny white, Christian colonizers what they want. You are made an example. You children are stripped of their connection to home. And those who insist on holding on are humiliated, forced into hiding or death.
I hear their cries, not just from outside but from deep within. For I carry them all in my veins.
This week has been particularly traumatizing. The death of John Allen Chau has reminded me that the same spirit that sent me fleeing, the same spirit that teaches that Haitians are the cause of their own poverty, that told me that I was divisive, missing the gospel, that tells Queer people that we worship our sexuality more than God because we simply acknowledge it, is alive and well. It is that mentality, that evil spirit that allows men and women that I love and have once loved me — my colleagues, mentors, teachers, friends — to support and elevate this young man’s death and the actions that led to it as honourable. This same mentality thinks that it is worth the trauma of future Sentilese generations because… Jesus.
These same people, most of whom are descendants of white Europeans, have had the luxury of hearing their stories, myths, and identities be praised and lifted up their entire lives. These people who by the virtue of their fair skin and power have had the luxury of seeing their mythology preserved as classics as their culture evolved towards Christianity have no qualms sacrificing that for others. Because ultimately it does not impact their lives or identity. They get to remain whole while those of us who inherit their “love”, their “mission”, their “Christ”, spend our lives grasping at what we can and painfully undoing the damage that was done.
It is beyond frustrating that white Christians get to sit on their thrones and decide who’s history is worth protecting. That they get to sit from the nations their ancestors built and still, after all the wreckage that was left behind think that they have a right to walk on to any land they want because God said so. Is he not the God of the Sentinelese too? Was he not the God of the Haitians slaves?
I believe he is — he was. And just as when my people fought for their liberation all those years ago, I believe he is with the Sentinelese today. If Christ is the liberator, if he is the champion of the least among us, he is most definitely standing watch over the isolated tribe trying to survive rather than the deluded, overfed, colonists who do not have the self-awareness to see what they have always been.
Big Hint Y’all: We’re Egypt in this equation. And if you won’t hear me, at least heed the words of the prophet. For the sake of all that’s good, “Let my people go.”