ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Thus God made people a bit different: some with flat noses, some with long slender noses;
some with blue eyes, some with jet-black eyes; some with yellow hair,
some with brown hair, some with curly black hair.
The Black Nazarene
By Richard Deverall
In the center of Manila, queen city of the Philippines, is a small and cozy church, the Quiapo Church (pronounced Key-yah-po). Surrounded in downtown manila by eating places, business establishments and sari-sari (variety) stores. Quiapo Church is busy day and night. No matter when you visit that delightful church, Orientals and Occidentals mingle when they drop in for a visit to the blessed sacrament before catching their bus out tot he suburbs.
My first visit found me there late in the afternoon. The blazing sun had already sunk into Manila Bay and across the waters, Cavite was but a blur on the horizon. inside Quiapo, I could not quite see everything but in time I noticed a wooden statue representing Our Lord. Christ was black, very black! later I was told that Our lord in manila is known as the Black Nazarene. he is represented there not as a white man, but as a colored man.
The Black Nazarene dominates the Church. Those of us who prayed before the statue were black, brown, yellow and white. Some of us were Orientals. Some Occidentals. many were mixed up. As the days went on, i continued to visit Quiapo in Manila. And with the days grew the consciousness that many of us white folks in the West view our Christian religion as if it were a “white’ religion. certainly, little white boys and girls in white supremacy countries pray to a “white’ god and see on the altar nothing but “white” Saints.
As the day passed in Quiapo, I realized how shocking it is for people to think in this manner, for over half the human race is not white. Indeed, on a global basis, white people are in the minority. particularly is this true in Asia where people are heavily sunburned, brown, yellow and in some places very black. Do you wonder that in many Asian countries the nationalist leaders talk about “white” Christianity and try to delude their followers into believing that no colored man can pray to a “white” God?
As I sat there in Quiapo many times I would meditate on the life of Our Lord: how he labored as a carpenter; how He rode a donkey into Jerusalem; how He drove the monechangers from the temple; how he went out in a vessel with the fishermen. Never before did I realize that the setting of the new testament is an Asian setting. it was not taught to me that way when I was in school. never before did I realize that Our Lord on earth was born of Asian Jews, was probably somewhat colored and had black eyes.
When you roam the length and breadth of colored Asia the most familiar foliage is that of the palm tree, you see mustard trees, you see men and cargo on donkeys; you meet the village carpenter and the local potter; and you see the moneychangers sitting outside the temples. And you learn how greedy and rapacious they can be. Whether you are in the Philippines, in Thailand, in Ceylon, or in India, the New Testament in many ways is given new meaning when you read it in a hot climate sitting under a palm tree just behind the village well. . . .
The Black Nazarene in Manila calls to the white men of the West to erase their color pride and to realize that God has no color! he is the Supreme being. he is god. All human beings are subject to god regardless of their race or their color or national origin. All of us are of equal dignity before God. like wise Our lord His Son is not really a “white” Christ nor a “black” Christ, but just Christ.
From the beautiful city of Manila, the Black Nazarene calls to all of us. he wants us to realize the truth which so many of us avoid or deny: men, colored and white, are brothers of the same Christ; God is the Father of but one human race. just as God our Father made flowers of diverse colors; just as God made climates to make leaves green, then yellow, then brown, so God in His Infinite Goodness used imagination in fashioning the human race.
Thus God made people a bit different: some with flat noses, some with long slender noses; some with blue eyes, some with jet-black eyes; some with yellow hair, some with brown hair, some with curly black hair. Imagine if you will the dreadful monotony of the world if everyone were white, blue-eyed and had nothing but flaxen hair. it would be the same as being in snowbound Greenland on a sunny day. Happily, Our Creator provided us with a world which is a riot of color and variated in form . . . .
One has to travel but a short time to realize how wonderfully God made the world and the people in it. thus when I prayed in Quiapo and looked around at the faces, the eyes, the noses and the beautiful souls of everyone in the church, i was struck once more with the colorful art God has used in making His human race!
Source: Richard L.G. Deverall, well-known journalist, lecturer and writer, has recently returned after seven years in Asia and the pacific area. For two years he represented the AFL in Asia. Interracial Review, February 1952
Black Nazarene in the Philippines
The Black Christ
The Feast of the Black Nazarine, the patron saint of Quiapo, is held every January 9. Quiapo is a small but well-known part of Manila. Muslims, Chinese, and Catholics live there in peace. Some may consider it exotic. For there can be found charms, herbal medicines, and fortune telling. One can also find second-hand wares. Quiapo is a culturally rich place — tourists consider it a place to be seen.
The Black Nazarene is a “blackened” icon of Jesus Christ carrying a cross. The statue is a replica of the original wooden icon, which was not black.
According to one tale, Spanish missionaries brought an icon to Manila aboard ship. the ship caught fire, burning the Nazarene. Despite its condition, the people kept the charred Nazarene for worship. Since then, miraculous things occurred in the place.
The main event of the feast, the procession of Black Nazarene starts mid-afternoon and ends at the Quiapo church. To touch the Nazarene or to have a cloth to touch the icon is believe to effect cures. A great pandemonium is created by the Nazarene’s devotees at the festival, which draws people from all over the country. Household and their guests celebrate with foods and beer.
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Manila: 80,000 faithful in Black Nazarene processionThe statue of the Black Nazarene arrived in the Philippines on 31 May 1606 when the first Augustinian missionaries set foot in Manila.Built in Mexico the figure represents the Saviour kneeling under the weight of the cross. Its fame as worker of miracles stems from the fact that it survived a fire that destroyed the ship that brought it into the country.
Placed inside the church in Bagumbayannow called Luneta near central Manilaon 10 September of the same year, it was moved to the Saint Nicholas Tolentina Parish Church where it remained until the latter part of the 18th century. The archbishop of the capital at the time, Mgr Basilio Sancho de Santas Justa, eventually ordered it to be moved to the church in Quiapo, its final destination.
The popular devotion sparked by the icon led the Holy See under Innocent X to canonically institute the Confraternity of Jesus Nazarene.
In the 19th century Pope Pius VII honoured the Black Nazarene by granting plenary indulgence to those who pray to it in a pious way. AsiaNews
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By Charles C. Mann
Im a big fan of Charles Manns previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Its exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that its anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, Im proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, globalized entity.
Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple. We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.
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By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama . . .
The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism. Recalling some of the criticisms of Americas past made by Mr. Obamas former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved. His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him boy, and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedys father relished Muhammad Alis quip that the Vietcong had never called him nigger. The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 28 July 2008