Sunday, April 3, 2011

Toward A New African American Spirituality

Toward a New African American Spirituality by Nefertiti El Muhajir, Minister of Spirituality and Event Planning, First Poet's Church

L to R: Nefertiti, Dr. West, Amira, esq. (daughters of Dr. M)

This is a spiritual movement that reflects the cultural heritage of the African American individual. Historically, religious movements have reflected the culture by which they were adopted. For the African brought to America through the North Atlantic slave triangle, adopting the religious beliefs and practices of the enslaver was a method of survival.

So if we are to reclaim the traditions of our African ancestry, while also forging something that is reflective of our experience in America, we must create something new. This has partially been the case with the Black Muslims, and thus this partially accounts for its appeal to individuals who have sought to be connected with their African ancestry/heritage. Although they have adopted Islam, their religious practices have unique reflections of the African American experience; it speaks directly to our experience as an oppressed group of people in a foreign land. It (The Black Muslim religion) does not resemble any other Islamic traditional sect.

The Christian church on the other hand, has primarily adopted the ways of the mainstream, Western church. It’s worship services, hymnals, conventions, doctrines, etc. are for the most part patterned after white churches. There are minor exceptions, the most powerful and relevant exceptions were during and immediately following slavery.

The African Methodist Episcopal church was fashioned as a unique African experience in America. In addition, Negro spirituals and gospel hymns were an African American musical response to traditional, Western, church music. The strong warriors, rebels and abolitionists who were birthed in the church was an outgrowth of the uniquely African American preaching traditions that empowered believers through the understanding that they were not slaves. With this understanding came the strong belief that they were not waiting for the Messiah for deliverance from their current oppressions, but they were imbued with the belief that the power that they needed to redeem themselves was within their own mental and physical capabilities.

They believed that God had endowed them with the capacity to act on their behalf. We have gotten away from the strong anti-establishment religious traditions that gave birth to Harriet Tubman, David Walker, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, Frederick Douglass, and others. Instead of being counter culture, we have begun to emulate the weak, watered down Christian traditions of America. This work is designed for those individuals who desire to create a spiritual experience that is unique to their African experience in America. Our tradition is not the same as the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Spanish, or any other cultural group. Our tradition in this country has been one of tragedy and triumph (slavery and liberation, defeat and resilience; of creative genius).

We certainly deserve a unique spiritual experience that embodies the strength and boldness of our cultural traditions. This is something that will be rejected by many, but for those who are ready to adopt traditions and experiences that are reflective of your cultural experience, I hope that you will find this document useful. This is something that is organic.

It is being birthed, so the spiritual experience that you create will not be identical to anyone else. You will see traditions borrowed from both religious and secular institutions, with the vast majority of them being borrowed from the Christian tradition. The strong Christian influence is as a result of my own narrow lens, but if you see a more powerful way to tune into the best reflection of light that is you, then create your path and be true to it for as long as you know it to shed light (reflect truth).

Topics to be covered:

On Birth

On Naming

Girl’s Rites of Passage

Boy’s Rites of Passage

Womanhood Training

Manhood Training

On Weddings

On Death

Holidays to be covered:

New Years

Martin Luther King Day

Black History Juneteenth (-)

4th of July (-)

Halloween (+)

Thanksgiving (-)


Kwanzaa (-)


Return to the Motherland

Barak Obama Day

Caravan to the Ancestors

Foods: All things are allowed, but are all things beneficial?

On Spiritual Tenants




Service Studying (individually and collectively)

Texts: The Bible and other religious texts

The Way Forward and other texts by Ishmael Tetteh

How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy

I Am Because We Are

Other texts that speak truth

On Gender Roles

On Giving

On God (speak to the weakness of the Black Power Movement; it diminished the fact that we’re spiritual beings)

The Worship Experience

On Truth – we have not corned all truth On Activism

1 comment:

  1. Augusta Lee Collins
    will be performing the music from
    his latest CD

    "Augusta brings such passion, rhythm and style to every note he plays..." -M. Beardsley"

    April 8, 2011
    Pizza Pazza
    3905 Piedmont Avenue
    Oakland, CA


    Click on link: