In Paradise Lost, John Milton writes Lucifer’s fall from Grace as an epic tale, a battle between him and God. While it does a necessary job of dramatizing the narrative surrounding Lucifer-turned-Satan’s story, I don’t think it goes far enough. This is not necessarily a failing on Milton’s part, but rather it shows just how limited the scope through which he experienced life could extend. John Milton was a white man who lived in the mid-seventeenth century. The longer I sit with Lucifer’s story, and Milton’s poems, I begin to imagine that Lucifer’s story must be told from that of the perspective of little Black kids abused and abandoned by their fathers.
Most Biblical scholars point to the Book of Ezekiel as the foundational story behind the making, the rise, and the fall of Lucifer. This story, while brief, gives a clear indication of what life was like for Lucifer: a boy who becomes disillusioned of his compulsory reverence for his father, challenges his father and is exiled indefinitely. I don’t view this as a battle. I view this story as one with an unbalanced power dynamic, told by the person with assigned authority and credibility. When viewed in that regard, Lucifer becomes a relatable person with a story that’s not at all unique to him.
When I was just a kid, I remember having a love for my father that was unmatched. He and my mom had been divorced for quite some time. That story was always one that contained a lot of business I was not privy to at the time because it was business that belonged to “grown folks.” However, what I did know is that on those days where I got to spend time with him, I was most happy.
Waking up on Saturday mornings, the first thing I’d do was run up to hug him. I’d, next, find my way to the living room to start playing Mario Kart and SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog on the GameCube console. He or his then-wife would be in the kitchen making breakfast. I sat there on the floor, inhaling the smell of sausage while dodging the Banana Peel in Mario Kart or the Piranhas in Sonic.
I remember those moments he would pick me up from my mom’s house, and we’d just drive. Sometimes we found ourselves at a restaurant, other times we found ourselves fishing. We would take the fish, the crabs, and the shrimp we caught back home and he would stand outside in his tank top, with his towel thrown over his shoulder, his shorts, and his sandals—we always referred to them as “Jesus Sandals.” That was my dad, for whom I had a deep love and reverence. We had a relationship until we didn’t. I loved and knew him until I no longer knew him to love him. He had abandoned me; abandoned me for his wife, for his other children, for all reasons that did not matter to me because all I knew is that he had gone.
Then there was my stepfather. Since I was 4, I’d known him. He was my baseball and basketball coach. If he could have been, he would have coached every other sport I played. He was my barber. He was my mom’s boyfriend who eventually became her husband. He was tough, but also gentle. He cared for my mom and all of us in a wonderful way. His words, followed by his actions, assured and reassured us that we would know no pain.
We would take random, fun road trips. He would help us with our homework—albeit, he was a coach in those moments, too, rather than a teacher or tutor. He kept us active in church. And while I am no longer a Christian, and thus, do not measure a man’s goodness by his role in church, I do find it good that he provided us with routine, discipline, and some sort of spirituality. But then, I grew distant from boyhood and proceeded into my teenage years. Much like my biological father, my stepfather abandoned me; except he did not leave our lives physically, he just was no longer present mentally.
With my teenage years, like all other teenagers going through puberty, I’d developed my own sense of self which was often accompanied by an attitude and an ego. I knew what I believed even when I didn’t. I knew what I wanted, even when I didn’t. I knew what I felt. Even when I didn’t. I read a lot and challenged the teachings of my elders even more. Since my twin brother and I were the first teens my stepfather would have been raising, I believe he was unsure of how to respond to being challenged by what felt like his own offspring. So though he never kicked us out of our home, he still abandoned us.
In this way, through these experiences, I relate heavily to Lucifer.
Lucifer’s story reads like that of a kid who was becoming a teen, who started to—as most Black parents would say—”smell himself” a bit. He was proud of his dad, but I believe he was also proud of what he had become. In Ezekiel, it is said that Lucifer is “cast down” from Heaven because his “heart became proud on account of [his] beauty, and [he] corrupted [his] wisdom because of [his] splendor.” But what good is a father who cannot walk his child through windy storms? Of what use is a father who cannot act as a guide to his child, who he created, in the parts of his life where he most desperately needs to be guided? And where is the sin in being proud of who one has become? In questioning what one has always been taught? In challenging the status quo? Can’t it be true that Lucifer, though flawed and imperfect like the best of us, saw that no one person deserved all the glory? That if his father created him to be his most perfect angel, that he, too, could be more than just a servant in his own kingdom? If Heaven truly operates with a “government,” as some scholars call it, why would a dictatorship be the government of choice? These are the many questions I am left with. Not just about God, but about my father and my stepfather, too. Because of patriarchy, men are committed to this idea that there can only be one: the alpha. These leaders are never to be questioned or challenged. But if God is just, and is truly filled with love and forgiveness, for what reason would he reproduce, or even create, this patriarchal and harmful way of life?That’s what the forbidden fruit does. It uncloaks the invisible; it uncovers the secret; it makes bare that which is clothed. Click To Tweet
As I understand the story, Lucifer’s father cast him out of Heaven because he didn’t appreciate that his child had developed his own voice and found his agency, so he abandoned him. He threw him out with no room and no hope for reconciliation. Now on Earth, Lucifer is forced to watch his father create other children, that he would also call perfect, in hopes to replace him. He creates these people in, what the Bible says is, “his image” with the expectation that they will be the obedient, docile children that Lucifer no longer was. They failed. It has been written that Satan—the name of the new identity taken on by Lucifer—has taken the form of a snake and tricked Adam and Eve into eating a forbidden fruit. Most attribute this to Satan being evil. I, however, believe this was an act made out of jealousy, but also as an attempt to unveil that which his father hid from Adam and Eve. Lucifer wanted Adam and Eve to see things as they were; for his reality to not be masked by his father’s promise of paradise through coercive submission and obedience. That’s what the forbidden fruit does. It uncloaks the invisible; it uncovers the secret; it makes bare that which is clothed. Lucifer wanted to show his siblings what his father would not: that neither he nor the world in which they lived was perfect.
I watched my father and my stepfather care for children in a way they had previously cared for me. I watched them both abandon me, one physically and the other mentally, with no regard for how traumatizing those experiences could be for me. I imagine that at the moment Lucifer took the form of a snake, he was just a little Black child with a broken heart, longing for his father’s attention. When I examine his story away from a religious lens, what I find is that Lucifer is the little Black child that I once was. I find that Lucifer is the little Black girl with a dad who felt he couldn’t love her anymore because she was becoming “too grown.” What I find is that Lucifer is the little fat Black boy who did all that his father asked of him, seeking the approval of a man he once revered, only to be left out in the world alone when he stumbled. What I find is that Lucifer is the little Black boy whose father preached a message of love and forgiveness on Sunday mornings only to chastise him on Sunday evenings for being less than perfect. What I find is that Lucifer is driven by a sanctified rage built and sustained from the pain of his forgiving father who just could not find it in himself to forgive Lucifer—a story not unusual to the little Black kid raised by the streets once their father resisted them for being gay, or the young Black child who joined a gang to find family in people who sought to understand them. Lucifer is not evil. He is a Black child who became an adult without ever being given the space to heal from his pain and traumas from his father.
I no longer think of any of these Biblical stories as anything other than mythological tales, but I do find that many of them still have lots of value. What are we teaching little Black boys when we tell them they are to blame for being abandoned by a parent? What are we teaching little Black girls when we interpret their pain as evil? How do we teach Black children to believe in and worship a god that will love and always forgive them when that god couldn’t do the same for his own child? What could have been a story of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation ended in travesty. All of this leads me to believe that Lucifer is no more than an abandoned, despondent Black child who is committed to truth over yielding to his father’s wielded power, but still hoping that the illuminating of his trauma will be enough for his father to reach out his hand in love and forgiveness.
#MyWhitePrivilege Spotlights Further Racial Disparities
Employing the hashtag #MyWhitePrivilege, Twitter users have shed light on the various ways they’ve survived interactions that frequently claim the lives of Black or brown people.
Everyone knows that the justice system unfairly prosecutes Black and brown people at a rate far harsher than their white counterparts. But the extent to which white people avoid experiencing the treatment people of color face in America is vast. One user described their experience growing up in a small town with no Black population:
“Growing up in a small town with no Black folks meant that the poor were often scapegoated. Anytime something happened or went missing, the cops were at our house looking for my brother. We survived all of those interactions though.”
As unsurprising as their experience was, they continued with details that truly highlight disparity in racial treatment with regard to the prison industrial complex. Not only did their brother evade prison, they received rehabilitation, therapy to deal with their traumas, and suffered no loss of education or employment opportunities. Throughout the thread of tweets, other users shared similar experiences with the law where despite their behavior or knowledge of their criminal history, they avoided punishment.
My ex sold $700 worth of E to a cop and got ten days of weekend jail. It ended up like six days because of his “good behavior.”— Maggie The Awesome (@brainofmaggie) April 2, 2019
The cops came to my house for a wild party and we could not stop laughing to his face that his name was Stoner. We got a warning. #MyWhitePrivilege
My high school was mostly POC, probably less than 10% white. I ditched school by walking out the front gate where a school cop stood, I did this almost daily for a year. I watched the cops stop students of color doing the same thing. The cops were POC too. #MyWhitePrivilege— gracelinroses (@gracelinroses) April 4, 2019
Left my backpack in a train station and came back to 15 cops w/ the bomb squad en route. When I picked up my bag, a (white) cop asked if it was my back and what was in it. I said “Yeah and I dunno… I mean… books and stuff?” He let me go without a search… #MyWhitePrivilege— Matthew Gadbois (@gadbois_matthew) April 18, 2019
I forgot to get a visa or esta to go to the US. I apologised at Customs. Got to sit in a room full of people of colour for all of 20 minutes while some one made a decision. Stamp in passport and off I went. #MyWhitePrivilege— Kate Matheson (@KateMatheso) April 1, 2019
As Black Twitter users read the replies, some were struck with awe and others reflected on the struggles they faced. Many lamented over the difficult conversations they prepared to have with their children. The nearly 20K replies contain experiences with law enforcement through local authorities, TSA, Immigration officers, and even school police.
Not On Our Watch! Howard Uni President Bans Campus Colonizers
As a response to student reports of unauthorized use of The Yard, Howard University President, Wayne A.I. Frederick has released a statement demanding pet owners respect the campus.
An email sent to Howard University staff and students notified them of the President’s decision to mark the private institution’s grounds off limits. Calling the quad a “treasured site”, Frederick affirmed the community’s desire to keep the area “pristine and symbolic of all that Howard University represents.” Acknowledging the history of residents’ visitation to the campus, Frederick referenced the community relationship before making a formal decision.
“At the beginning of my presidency we held regular meetings that included students, faculty and members of the Advisory Neighborhood Committees to cultivate a town and gown relationship. I recently reached out to our local ANC and Councilwoman to engage in a dialogue. We recognize that service animals are a necessary aspect of modern-day life and we will accommodate them as needed. We appreciate pet owners respecting out campus by not bringing pets onto the private areas.”
Last week, reports of residents from gentrified surrounding areas mistreating the northwest Washington D.C. school made waves on social media. Insensitive comments regarding who was privileged to access the campus sparked public outrage among those who wanted to protect Howard’s 152-year legacy.
Keep Walking, Colonizer! Howard University Students Say Neighbors are Disrespecting The Yard
White people’s sense of entitlement knows no bounds and has now extended to the campus of famed HBCU, Howard University. The 152-year-old private educational institution located in D.C. has been misused by residents who believe The Yard should be accessible to them as a dog park or outdoor gym.
Students of Howard University have taken offense to colonizers and gentrifiers in northwest Washington D.C in recent years. As wealthy, White residents continue to flood areas surrounding the university, they take liberties they have neither earned nor deserve on the school grounds. Students say they “find it very disrespectful” and have noted a marked increase of such behavior throughout their attendance.
Where students would have seen one or two out-of-place dog walkers on campus in a week, they see two each day. Graduating senior, Briana Littlejohn, spoke with The DCist, about the residents’ use of the campus, stating, “You know this is a university. You know this is a historically Black university. And you feel so entitled that you’re just going to walk your dog there?” Many other attendees feel the same, but their outrage has recently been met with unreasonable alternatives by residents.
Speaking with Fox 5 correspondent, Tisha Lewis, Sean Grubbs-Robishaw who lives in the Bloomingdale neighborhood said the following:
“So, they’re in part of D.C. so they have to work within D.C. If they don’t want to be within D.C., then they can move the campus. I think we just need to work together and I don’t think it should be a he or there or here…It’s our community and that’s how it should be.”Sean Grubbs-Robishaw,
Grubbs-Robishaw admits to using the grounds as a shortcut to get to the McMillan Reservoir, a popular spot for walking/running. But his argument conveniently glosses over the fact that Howard University is a private institution while also disregarding its status as a historically Black university.
The campus has been mistreated by those new to the area as a location for picnics and other abuses. The university has yet to directly state that such activities are prohibited by residents, Alonda Thomas, a spokesperson, has said there is no policy prohibiting dogs and that the campus is “open”, meaning anyone has access to it.
Do you think the disrespect that Howard University campus is receiving is related in any way to the #DontMuteDC protest? Do you think the campus should be closed to the public?
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