A.D. “Lumkile” Thomason’s new book, “Permission to be Black: My Journey with Jay-Z and Jesus” puts into perspective the power of identity, culture, and faith. Through a series of “Cheat Codes” and life lessons, Thomason helps men of color balance their walk through Hip-Hop culture and the often heavy vocational load that comes with being a follower of Christ.
Recently, the author sat with Julliard’s Dr. Fredara Hadley at the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Black Book Fair to talk about this work and its meaning to the large community.
In their discussion, they spoke about the ways that Black children, in their effort to establish themselves in their greatest purpose, have to be able to look at themselves beyond Eurocentric and American-idealized models of success. Leaving people to wonder, “why model success, or the image of God after people who have systematically oppressed communities of color all over the world?”
He answers that the Jesus (or Yeshua) that people are looking at, specifically to people in the Hip-Hop generation, is not a tangible person.
Dr. Fredara Hadley: “The religious side of [Black people] will say things like, ‘We don’t need therapy. We just need to pray about it.’ How do you see those kinds of statements in light of your own writing?
Thomason: “Yeah that’s good that’s one of the things I explored. A lot of people don’t realize that even their spirituality [they are misinformed]. Let’s say that Jesus (whether you believe in him or not) that’s most familiar is the one that’s existential … spiritual. But [he] isn’t one that stands for you every day.”
“In my research, I can tell you why.’ It is because that version of Jesus (which I would say is the false form) comes from white folks … who at the time when they’re raping and child-trafficking. They had to make Jesus existential because if he were tangible then they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because of the horrors that they’re doing. They had to create another Jesus instead [where they would say that] the soul is most important.”
“A lot of people still walk around with that ‘spirituality no matter what’ belief. I just see, subconsciously, people disassociate the spirit in the physical.”
“So what I’m saying is I got a man from the Middle East. He sends his disciples to North Africa. He had some of them from North Africa and people will say, ‘I never heard this. You never heard this ’cause they buried this. This issue [about] Jesus [is unique] because white folks have made him so existential. We don’t ask the question, ‘why?’ If he wrapped himself in human skin …. Why did he wrap himself in minority Brown Jewish skin and not the majority Roman white skin? He could have chosen any skin, right?”