What’s below are passages from Maya Angelou’s book “The Heart of a Woman”.
[Vus studied Political releases, Guy did schoolwork and I read The Blacks. During the third reading, I began to see through the tortuous and mythical language, and the play’s Genet suggested that colonialism would crumble from the weight of its ignorance and greed, and that the oppressed would take over the positions of their former masters. They would be no better, no more courageous and more merciful.
I disagreed. Black people could never be like whites. We were different. More respectful, more merciful, more spiritual. Whites irresponsibly sent their own aged parents to institutions to be cared for by strangers and to die alone. We generously kept old aunts and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents at home. feeble but needed, senile but accepted as natural part of natural families.
Our mercy was well-known. During the thirties Depression, white hobos left freight trains and looked for black neighborhoods. They would appear hungry at the homes of the last hired and the first fired, and were never turned away. The migrants were given cold biscuits, leftover beans, grits and whatever black folks could spare. For centuries we tended, and nursed, often at our breasts, the children of people who despised us. We had cooked the food of a nation of racists, and despite the many opportunities, there were few stories of black servants poisoning white families. If that didn’t show mercy, then I misunderstood the word.
As for spirituality, we were Christians. We demonstrated the teachings of Christ. We turned other cheeks so often our heads seemed to revolve on the end of our necks, like old stop-and-go signs. How many times would we forgive? Jesus said seven times seventy. We forgave as if forgiving was our talent. Our church music showed that we believed there was something greater than we, something beyond our physical selves, and that, that something, that God, and His Son, Jesus, were always present and could be called “in the midnight hour” and talked to when the “sun raised itself to walk across the morning sky.” We could sing the angels out of heaven and bring them to stand thousands thronged on the head of a pin. We could ask Jesus to be on hand to “walk around” our deathbeds and gather us into “the bosom of Abraham.” We told Him all about or sorrows and relished the time when we would be counted among numbers of those who would go marching in. We would walk the golden streets of heaven, eat of the mild and honey, wear the promised shoes and rest in the arms of Jesus, would rock us and say , “You have labored in my vineyard. You are tired You are home now, child. Well, done.” Oh, there was no doubt that we were spiritual.]
If blacks are really as spiritual and Christian as Maya Angelou writes, why are they not being Christians toward people like me who never done anything to them? They have become as the writer Genet suggested. That they would become just like their masters, no better and no more courageous. And I agree.
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