Old Man Rockin’

Setting: Hot, humid day. Large porch. Elderly black man, thinking to himself and talking in a rocking chair. Looking out into the expanse of his property, eventually resting his eyes on his grandchildren playing in the front yard.

 

Why do black people believe in White Jesus, you say?

What many have been trying to figure out, night and day

What the black preachers of new liberation

What is that? Pan Africanism

What is that? Black power

What is that? Egyptology

Have been trying to figure out, night and day

 

He stops rocking for a moment, thinks for a second, and chuckles. Recalling the criticisms waged against his faith…

 

The Bible teaches that the meek shall inherit the earth

So the slaves sit in their oppression,

Meekly, waiting to inherit the earth

The Bible teaches to turn the other cheek

So the slaves stand, taking lashes, left and the right

Until they are made to sit,

Meekly, waiting to inherit the earth

The Bible teaches that the Lord is coming back to avenge His people

So the slaves sit,

Meekly, waiting to inherit the earth

The Bible teaches that we are earth-made but heaven-bound

Or is it, half-man half-god

Or is it one-third flesh, one-third earthly soul, one-third holy spirit?

So the slaves sit,

Meekly waiting to inherit the earth

 

He begins to rock faster. Rock, rock-rock. Rock-rock-rock

 

So they say, so they say

“You worship the white-man’s God!”

So they say, so they say

“You have given them license for your subservience!”

So they say, so they say

 

Rock-rock-rock. Rock-rock-rock-rock. Rock-rock-rock-rock-rock

 

You know why black people worship the white man’s god?

Because all we got is faith

So we take from the Word what we need to survive

It would be nice to just up and die

It sure would be easier

There have been days I’ve wished…

But we wake all the same,

Tasked with the charge to survive

Faced with two choices

Live with the strength that comes from hope

Or die under the weight of oppression

Live meekly, and honourably

Or die young, under self-inflicted wounds

Or the reign of bullets and gunfire

Or in prison

You know they watching us

Waiting for us to rise up so they can shoot us down!

And what would that prove?

What would that prove?!

 

He catches his breath and comes back to the present. His vision refocuses on his grandchildren, playing. He begins to rock, again. Slowly, this time.

 

Why do blacks worship a white man’s god?

All we got is faith

And you better be thankful we have it

Because if we didn’t, this world would be a scary place

For you, for me, and for everyone who has ever lifted his hand

In hatred or retribution

Faith may be the poor man’s food, but it keeps us all in order

Yes, it does

It keeps us from taking our lives too lightly,

And giving them up without a second thought

It has given us the strength to endure

To love, through it all

And to live,

Long enough to produce for humanity the fruit of our struggle

 

Now you know

How to live principled

Persevere

Inspire generations

And die a martyr

Now you know

How to make your life an honourable sacrifice

And that the arch of morality will always bend towards justice (MLK)

Now you know

How to give thanks

And create

In spite of it all

Because of it all

With the hope

That what you have made

Will endure for generations

And it will

Faith may be a poor man’s food

And it may be all I got

But it keeps me full

 

The old man has rocked enough today. He rises to call his lawyer. Arrangements need to be made on how to divide his fortune amongst his children, his children’s children, and generations to come. God has been faithful.

 

T. M. G.