Saturday, February 14, 2009

Black skin, and clapping.

At the risk of being shockingly politically incorrect, I will share with you something I remembered today.

When LOGOS II was in West Africa, two young men, volunteers from a local church, came to work in the engine room with us during the time we were in port. At the end of their first day they gathered around the sink that was down in the engine room for that purpose and stripped off their shirts and cleaned the grease and oil off of their arms.

I remember being shocked at the shiny *black*ness of their skin. I wanted to stare, but I didn't want to be rude, so I kind of watched out of the corner of my eye. I'd never seen skin so black. Shiny black like ... like a really expensive black paint job on a souped up old muscle car. I felt envious, wishing my skin had anything approaching that brilliant color.

I remember watching a group of the volunteers in West Africa in the Aft Meeting Room, having a Bible study. Jonathan Cullum was leading it. He read a passage and asked some shockingly provocative question, and all the volunteers started standing up and answering it, back and forth, arguing this way and that over some issued that seemed very important to them--something about does God love us because we are good, or does he love us and *then* we are good (I'm guessing the answer is "yes".)

After the bible study, they sang, and they clapped. They could sing beautifully. And they would clap these amazingly complex syncopated rhythms, while they sang. I found if I concentrated *really* hard, I could just barely clap along with them. But I couldn't maintain it and sing at the same time.

Now when I hear white people in the U.S. clap to music, I generally wince, and think to myself "White people should just refrain from clapping. They are just obviously shitty at it."


DeeDee said...

i've thought that about white people dancing... some of them :) they just shouldn't...

and i'll admit i've thought that about black skin and been envious of its brilliance

Megs said...

I remember in West Africa my 'office' was the sound booth in the aft meeting room, so every morning I'd hear big groups of West African pastors singing together, amazing harmonies, clapping ... I remember wondering how many other people's offices in the world had such incredible live music ... every morning! LOGOS II does kind of ruin one for every day mundane life!!!

Love you moo,

Joe said...

It is not just black Africans. Everyone has more rhythm than white Anglo-saxons :S

gretta at lothlorien said...

Yes, sometimes so black it's more like a purple colour.