I was eleven. The teacher asked if we had any questions. It had been a strange term for RE and the other kids in my class were clearly being raised atheists. I was the only Christian in my class and the only black kid to boot. Any questions she asked? The usual jokes about Jesus being gay because he wasn’t married, the usual questions of will you name your kid Lucifer (the RE teacher was expecting her first child) and then there was me. Tentatively I raise my hand. I really was never that kid who drew any attention to herself. Preferring to blend into the background. The classes ran easier that way.
This was back in the day when the South of England still did Lower, Middle and Upper schools. Not the general Primary to Secondary as it is now. This meant that for almost 8 hours a day classes were taught by form (at least in my school). So apart from the core subjects (English, Maths and Science) , all other lessons were with my form class and there were some people I just did not want to be with.
Yes. What’s your question? She pointed at me. I sighed a heavy sigh. Here goes. “So, a lot of people believe Adam and Eve were white people.” I began….”So where do I fit in? Where do black people come into creation, if we are all decedents of Adam and Eve? Literally the class was silent. I never will know what was going through the other students heads at the time and perhaps its better I never will know.
She looked at me. I remember feeling like it took an ion for her to respond. I figured she’d say she doesn’t know or talk about how the populous spread out across the land after Abel was killed by Cain and found himself a wife. I knew she knew I was a christian. She was too. She’d asked us at the beginning of the year, so she’d know I’d know the bible story of Cain and Abel. But this is what she actually said…..
“So where do I fit in? Where do black people come into creation, if we are all decedents of Adam and Eve.?
Adam and Eve met the snake in the garden and ate the forbidden fruit which was the first sin. Then God banished them from Eden but their blood line kept on sinning. So, all different races then began to enter the Earth. Huh? I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite get what she was telling me. So, sin? Yes because Adam and Eve bought sin on the world things changed. Okay….
So here I was, 11 years old in a classroom full of white children and atheists and here was my “Christian” RE teacher effectively telling me the answer to my question was “black people are here because Adam and Eve sinned”. Yes, that is right. Black people roam the Earth because Adam and Eve ate an apple. That probably goes for all other ‘minorities’, but I was 11, I was going on what was currently around me. I couldn’t worry about everyone else too.
Now I know better. But back then at 11 years old I figured she’s the teacher she has the answer to maybe not all but this question at least. The strange thing is a part of me knew this couldn’t be right. That the God I knew, that I prayed to must love me somehow. Why send Jesus to die for my sins then?
Oddly enough. It is something that stuck with me right up until now. Had I not known God or been more impressionable, I think that could’ve had a lasting and damaging effect on how I viewed God and also Christians as a whole. It really goes to show that the words we speak can either steal, kill and destroy or lift people up and elevated them on a whole other level. I’m just glad for me it was the later.
“Those words played over and over in my mind. Again and again and AGAIN!”
If I met this woman again now, I would tell her she needs re educating or some deeper delving into her bible. That to be honest – her answer should have been – it doesn’t matter. God doesn’t care. His children are his children and he loves us all the same. I’d tell her how those words played over and over in my mind again and again. How at times, I questioned if God could truly love me because of my skin colour. How actually in that moment maybe the teaching hat could’ve come off (just for a moment) and the Christian hat could’ve been put on. How for a long while I didn’t know how I fit into God’s plan for His kingdom. How I didn’t feel like a child of God.
Let’s face it. In some ways we all need re educating. 2020 has been a rough year. Maybe it’s time to start again. Take the time to sit, reflect and heal. Many things I thought I’d gone past – like this moment – I need healing from now. So I’m going to take my time. I’m ready to heal.