I get what you're saying. I also get that it's a far cry from "political correctness" and that to automatically condemn anything involving black people as such is an unwarranted knee jerk reaction. Thanks be to God that we are living in a pluralistic society and that the days when the Westerner was lionized and all others were to one degree or another marginalized are waning.
That being said, I've read An Unbroken Circle
and I don't know that any of the enslaved Africans who suffered for Christianity whose stories are told therein could ever be canonized by the Orthodox Church.
Granted, they suffered for Christ. Granted, their so-called masters were hardly what I would call Christians at all, and were perhaps heretics at best. It is to the great credit of these enslaved men and women that they continued to embrace the Christian faith when all that was represented to them as Christianity was barbaric, heretical, warped, and false.
Yet and still, I think that the form of Christianity to which they themselves subscribed could best be defined as "mere Christianity". It defintely wasn't the so-called Christianity of their masters, but we cannot say for certain that it was Orthodox, and we certainly cannot say that any of these brave folks were ever formally received into the Church. Perhaps their blood was their Baptism, but that is between them and their Creator, and it is not for us to say.
We on these boards can only hope that we would be so brave as to endure suffering for Christ. Many of us would likely buckle if faced with what these men and women faced. However, we must conclude that all of what happened in these instances: the bestial brutality of the so-called Christian "masters", the bravery, dignity, and love of Christ displayed by the enslaved African Christians, occured outside the Church.
Can you ask for their intercessions at the Throne of God in your private devotions? I'd imagine that the answer to that is the same as whether or not Orthodox Christians can ask for the intercessions of Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa.
I may be off base on this, and stand to be corrected, but it occurs to me in passing that your cause is also not entirely a lost one, as St. Isaac of Syria (may his intercession be with us) lived his life outside of the Orthodox Church, as did the Emperor Constantine.
As to your postulations that perhaps Orthodoxy reached West Africa at some time in history, I'd defintely say that's worthy of research. Why not take up the gauntlet and see what you can uncover yourself?
In the meantime, I've found a couple of articles which might be encouraging to you.
Black slavery as it was practiced in the Americas was, to my mind, the most blasphemous and anti-Christian form of slavery ever practiced on the face of the Earth, in that it was based on the blasphemous and fallacious notions of white superiority and black inferiority. At least a slave in the ancient world, or in pre-colonial Africa was assumed to be the equal of all other men in basic humanity, and was not considered as a beast. Of course the satanic idea of white supremacy has left scars on your soul as well as mine. I encourage you to find comfort in the words of St. Nephon quoted in the article below.http://www.oodegr.com/english/atheismos/diafwt_ratsism.htm
Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Atheism
Voltaire and the `Blacks'
The true, repugnant face of the "Enlightenment"
By George Kekavmenos
Saint Nephon (4th century A.D.) had proclaimed that "just as the Earth produces both white and dark grapes, thus does it also give light and dark-skinned people; however, all of them are children of God, destined for Paradise." Ever since the 5th century, the Church also honors and celebrates the memory of the blessed Moses the "Ethiopian" (=with reference to his dark skin) – not forgetting to also mention the other "Ethiopian" Eunuch of the 1st century: perhaps the first black person to become a member of the Church (as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles). The important Father and Teacher, Gregory of Nyssa ("Precise Exegesis on Ecclesiastes", Homily 4, PG 44,664 etc) has been expounding from the 4th century the views of the Gospels, which certain others tried to copy, many centuries later:
"I have acquired slaves and servants"... Can you see the magnitude of one's arrogance here? These words constitute a mutiny against God... if that person considers himself the lord and master of men and women he has - if anything - surpassed human nature with his pride. [ ... ] You condemn to slavery a human being whose nature it is to be free and self-governing, and you erect your own law opposite the law of God, thus overturning the law that governs the life of a human being. Him - who was forged precisely to be the lord of the earth and who was appointed by the Creator to rule – you have subjected to the yoke of slavery, which contravenes and opposes the divine commandment. [...] "I have acquired slaves and servants"... At what price? tell us. What did you find in nature that is equal to them? [... ] Somebody gave birth to them and likewise to you; your lives are common; the passions of the soul and the body are the same for all: joy and impatience, sorrow and pleasure, anger and fear, sickness and death. Does a master differ at all to his slave in all these? Don't they both breathe the same air? Don't they both see the sun in the same way? Won't they both turn into the same dust after death? If therefore you are the same as all the others, tell me, where do you possess the advantage over the others, so that even though you are a human being yourself, you consider yourself the master of another human being?
When putting together all my studies regarding the 25th of March anniversary and the "Secret School", I was obliged to read all the "wisdoms" of progressive historians on these topics as well. That was where I noticed how the "refrain" common to all of them was their condemnation of the Church as something obscure and medieval, supposedly because She was opposed to progress and the light that the enlightenment movement had brought to mankind. And naturally, they never ceased to point out that the Church was also opposed to the 1821 revolution in Greece - the appearance of which we supposedly owe exclusively to the Enlightenment, which is the most progressive thing ever to have appeared on earth, given that we people all owe our "human rights" to it.
So, all people are indebted to the Enlightenment…..
Well, almost all, but not quite….
Because all those - who so vehemently label as an obscurantist anyone who dares to express any opposition to the enlightenment movement – have "forgotten" to show us another, not-so-enlightened aspect of the "century of lights"…
In other words, they omit to tell us that human rights -albeit a good and perfect idea- apply exclusively to ... the white race! Yes, all those magnificent and outstanding anti-racists of our time happen to be the staunch supporters and fiery heralds of the cruelest racist movement ever to have appeared, which is none other than the Enlightenment. This explains why all the major representatives of the Enlightenment are also the toughest kind of racists – in fact, with a racism so savage, that it profoundly shocks every person who has noticed it…
We will now begin with the views expressed by the Enlightenment's "cream of the crop", namely Voltaire, on negroes and … their "rights"; this philosopher had made the following… non-racist statement when describing our negro fellow-men :
«Leurs yeux ronds, leur nez épaté, leurs lèvres toujours grosses, leurs oreilles différemment figurées, la laine de leur tête, la mesure même de leur intelligence, mettent entre eux et les autres espèces d'hommes des d i f f é r e n c e s prodigieuses »: Essai sur les moeurs, INTRODUCTION.
(Their round eyes, their flattened nose, their lips which are always large, their differently shaped ears, the wool of their head, that very measure of their intelligence, place prodigious differences between them and the other species of men.)
«[Ε]t ils n'ont d'homme que la stature du corps, avec la faculté de la parole et de la pensée dans un degré très éloigné du nôtre. Tels sont ceux que j'ai vus et examinés»: Essai sur les moeurs, INTRODUCTION.
(And they are not men, except in their stature, with the faculty of speech and thought at a degree far distant to ours. Such are the ones that I have seen and examined.)
«[Ε]t on peut dire que si leur intelligence n'est pas d'une autre espèce que notre entendement, elle est fort inférieure. Ils ne sont pas capables d'une grande attention; ils combinent peu, et ne paraissent faits ni pour les avantages ni pour les abus de notre philosophie»: Essai sur les moeurs, κεφ. CXLI.
(And one could say that if their intelligence is not of another species than ours, then it is greatly inferior. They are not capable of paying much attention; they mingle very little, and they do not appear to be made either for the advantages or the abuses of our philosophy.)
And the best quote:
«C'est une grande question parmi eux s'ils son descendus des singes, ou si les singes sont venus d'eux. Nos sages ont dit que l'homme est l'image de Dieu: voilà une plaisante image de l'Etre éternel qu'un nez noir épaté, avec peu ou point d'intelligence! Un temps viendra, sans doute, où ces animaux sauront bien cultiver la terre, l'embellir par des maisons et par des jardins, et connaître la route des astres. Il faut du temps pour tout»: Lettres d'Amabed, Septième lettre. D'Amabed.
(And it is a big question whether among them they are descendants of monkeys, or if monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man is the image of God: behold a pleasant image of the eternal Being with a flat black nose, with little or no intelligence! A time will come, without a doubt, when these animals will know how to cultivate the earth well, to embellish it with houses and gardens, and to know the routes of the stars. Time is a must, for everything.)
What repulsion that supreme Enlightener and FOUNDER of human rights –Voltaire- must have truly felt for black people! And how the teachings of the Holy Bible must have annoyed him (that all people originate from one sole couple, Adam and Eve!) And how could it be otherwise, given that for all racists this specific teaching of the Bible is like a red rag to a bull (see the amazing analysis by William B. Cohen, The French Encounter With Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880, Indiana University Press 2003, p. 84 etc.).
Of course the above are just a small sample of the beautiful non-racist things that Voltaire had written about negroes.
So, was it only Voltaire who had such…humanitarian and very anti-racist views? Of course not! Listen to what the equally great, enlightened philosopher David Hume says:
«I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men, to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences... Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men»: Of national characters, in Essays: Moral, Political and Literary.
It is a well-known fact that the great American president Thomas Jefferson – who, while in Paris had actually participated in the drafting of the famous Declaration of Human Rights for man and citizen – was himself the owner of more than a hundred negro slaves…
We will now apprehend that great philosopher of MORALITY in an … anti-racist explosion of his (and this is where we all die laughing): Mr. Emmanuel Kant (yes, the famous Kant!), who says the following:
«Die Negers von Afrika haben von der Natur kein Gefühl, welches über das Läppische stiege. Herr Hume fordert jedermann auf, ein einziges Beispiel anzuführen, da ein Neger Talente gewiesen habe, und behauptet: daß unter den hunderttausenden von Schwarzen, die aus ihren Ländern anderwärts verführt werden, dennoch nicht ein einziger jemals gefunden worden, der entweder in Kunst oder Wissenschaft, oder irgend einer andern rühmlichen Eigenschaft etwas Großes vorgestellt habe, obgleich unter den Weißen sich beständig welche aus dem niedrigsten Pöbel empor schwingen und durch vorzügliche Gaben in der Welt ein Ansehen erwerben. So wesentlich ist der Unterschied zwischen diesen zwei Menschengeschlechtern, und er scheint eben so groß in Ansehung der Gemüthsfähigkeiten, als der Farbe nach zu sein»: Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen, Vierter Abschnitt.
(The Negroes of Africa have not received any intelligence from Nature that rises above foolishness. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to suggest even one example of a negro who has displayed any talent. As he himself verifies, among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who have wandered far away from their homelands, even though many of them have been liberated, not one exists who has succeeded in anything great, either in the arts or the sciences or in any other noteworthy thing. On the contrary, among the whites, people continuously rise above the low point that they were and they evolve through their superior qualifications, attaining worldly fame. The difference therefore between the two races is an essential one: It appears to be equally big, both with regard to the capabilities of the mind, as well as to the color.)
And I will close this brief walk through the wonderful and… enlightened world of the Enlightenment, with the revealing words that Abraham Lincoln had said with regard to the rights that negroes in America could have, following their liberation:
«I will say, then, that I AM NOT NOR HAVE EVER BEEN in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races---that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and black races which will ever FORBID the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race»: 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate, 18 ix. Collected Works, Vol.3, pp.145-146.
And this was the great liberator of negroes, Abraham Lincoln…
Behold, the disgusting brutality of the Enlightenment in all its glory; an enlightenment which had proclaimed human rights and equality in many ways, but with one condition: that they apply exclusively to the white race. And as we all know, these "radiant" teachings of the enlightenment did not remain in written form, but were implemented with the utmost precision and fastidiousness during the years that followed, both through colonization but also through the racist discriminations that were officially established in the larger countries of the "enlightened" West, with America –naturally- first and foremost.
This, my friends, is the enlightenment that the "enlightened" intellectuals of our land want us to embrace as "progress" and "light". This is the enlightenment that whoever dares to reject or even doubt is characterized as an obscurantist enemy of progress, of science and all the other things that we are aware of. This is the philosophy in whose name all the dynamic anti-racists of our time swear by.
Just so that we are fully aware of what they are "promoting" to us….
Footnotes with links to the excerpts
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 With reference to several books
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Translation by A. N.
Article published in English on: 30-8-2008.
Last update: 30-8-2008.
Also, it is interesting to note that Orthodoxy entered the Americas centuries before Leif Ericson and his Norsemen, and it came with Byzantine North Africans. See here:http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/connecticuts-5th-century-church.pdf
Take care, brother, and keep me in prayer.