A letter to all of my African American sisters:
I have a new friend who recently blogged on the struggles she has in finding spiritual ideologies, resources, and sources of inspiration that appeal specifically to African American women. I am writing this to hopefully suggest a couple of ways in which African American women can find a profound and more deep appreciation of their own unique connection with what is Divine.
Extensive scientific and anthropological research has shown that the human species H. sapiens originated in Africa. As migratory patterns began over 100,00 years ago, fossil remains of H. sapiens were found throughout Africa, Europe and South West Asia. As (some of) our ancestors travelled forth out of Africa, they began to adapt to their new environments.
Every person (with the exception albinos) has a measure of melanin in their skin. Exposure to sunlight increases melanin production in the skin. Persons with dark skin have more melanin producing cells, thus equipping their skin—the body’s largest organ—to live in tropical regions without an especially high risk of developing skin cancers. Our ancestors who travelled north found environments that did not yield so much sun—so their bodies adapted with a loss of melanin producing cells.
It is understood that light skin is a recent development in the biological evolution of humankind. Dark skin is ancient, is primal, and is the Common stock of all of humanity.
With that said, in the book of Genesis we read of Eve, the “Mother of All”. I do not believe in Biblical literalism, I believe that early teachers often used metaphor to teach a moral, a lesson, a deeper truth. So in marrying science and religion, we have to agree that yes, there likely was a Common Mother(s) of all living. There truly was an Eve—most likely not one sole woman—but the human species does have some point of origin. Where did our Ancient Mother(s) come from? What did Eve “look” like?
I believe She looked like the Earth. Dark skin glistening in the Sun; skin as dark and rich as Earth, Bountiful Mother, offers the beauty of Herself again and again to proliferate this growing, travelling, adapting band of the genus Homo. Through migration and mating patterns, we have literally become a rainbow of humanity across the Earth. There are even Blue People in Kentucky! 🙂
So if I were an African American woman today, I don’t know how much connection I would feel with divine female imagery that so often speaks to those of European descent. I would look deeper, I would go straight to the Source of ALL Goddesses, ALL women—the Earth.
The Earth is our Mother. We are made of Her substance and She sustains us. I’m afraid that I have no high theology in these regards; it’s as simple as this for me: The Earth is our Mother.
As humans we have a Common Mother as well: I see Her in our primordial beginnings; she is earthy and dark, full of sun and Life. Thank You Mother for giving us Life and Breath. She is our great clan-mother, and she lives within us all.