This is the question I asked God. Yahweh. The God of Abraham, Yitschaq, and Yisrael. Mi ani is Hebrew for; Who am I? I have always had an inquisitive mind, ever inquiring about the world around me. Asking the proverbial why, to ascertain a more insightful understanding of the people, culture, institutions, and society around me. When I asked this question of self-discovery, however, my life and trajectory was forever ameliorated.
Growing up, I was born into the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society. Ergo, I was raised with a Jehovah’s Witness worldview. My parents were wholly committed to the religious lifestyle of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This means no celebrating secular holidays. Birthdays, New Year’s, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Christmas; all no-no’s. For all the aforementioned are rooted in paganism. A rhetoric of political neutrality is championed. This means voting is frowned upon. Growing up, I didn’t vote Democrat. I didn’t vote Republican. I didn’t even vote for the next American Idol. I would see my buddies at our place of corporate worship, the Kingdom Hall. Fraternizing with my peers, the elders, being in the Theocratic Ministry School, knocking on doors in field service, facilitating Bible studies, spreading their Good News. Everything was great!
I didn’t really interrogate or cross examine the Watchtower Society until high school. I went to Fitzgerald High School. This is a very multicultural school, with a diverse demographic of students. Blacks, Africans, Whites, South Asian Indians, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Chinese. It was like being in a Benetton commercial. This multiculturalism really piqued my interest. Hearing my classmates speak their native languages with virtuosity. Being within earshot of them vividly describing their ancestral homeland. Seeing them easily pinpoint their country of origin. Their cultural sartorial. Exotic delicacies that are a staple in their diet. All of this galvanized me to ask, “What is my original culture? What’s my native language? Where am I from originally? Who am I?”
Once I graduated from Fitzgerald High in 2008, I made it a goal of mine to gain knowledge of self. Though my high school was diverse, the curriculum was homogeneously Eurocentric. To their credit, when February arrived, I did learn about Civil Rights icons like Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and the like, but I needed more. While attending Oakland Community College in 2011, I would oft frequent the Barnes & Noble in downtown Royal Oak. I would avidly read African American literature like Brainwashed by Tom Burrell, Debating Race with Michael Eric Dyson, antebellum slave narratives. Anything black that would orient me back to my roots.
Things reached a crescendo in 2012. I suffered an identity crisis. During this time, I was attending a predominantly white Kingdom Hall. Mind you, the white supremacist iconography of Bible characters illustrated in Watchtower literature, didn’t exactly help. Simultaneously, Trayvon Martin had been murdered. Wait, do we not have an African president? Didn’t the advent of President Barack Obama, usher in a post-racial utopia, where hate crimes against people who are brown like me, become ancient relics of yesteryear? I had imbibed the post-racial Kool-Aid, but the living waters of The Hebrew Bible sobered me up. Per Yochanan/John 7:38, Yeshayah/Isaiah 12:3, Yirmeyah/Jeremiah 17:13, Ephesians 5:26.
So I went into the basement, got on my knees, and prayed. I asked Jehovah to heal me of my existential identity crisis, in Jesus’ name. I now understand those to be misnomers, but Yah winked at my ignorance, and responded to my sincerity. Acts 17:30. While on Facebook, I saw a comment that said the real Jews are black. Couple of Google searches later, I was guided to Deuteronomy 28. Once I did a juxtaposition of Negro History with Deuteronomy 28:15–68, Yahweh healed me. Deuteronomy 28:15–68 was my spiritual D.N.A. test. My spiritual 23andMe. It all makes sense now. From the Middle Passage to police brutality. I’m an Israelite. Hallelu Yah! Subsequently, the revelation of the respective names Yahweh and Yahshua came to my understanding.
Due to irreconcilable doctrinal differences, I typed a letter of disassociation. I began mentally and socially distancing myself from the Watchtower Society. I lost all of my Kingdom Hall privileges. I had to relinquish all of my friendships curated in the Watchtower. I left the man made religion, to follow The Savior of us all: Rabbi Yahshua, The Messiah, and have been practicing Torah ever since.
Baruch Ha’Shem Yahweh!