Christmas, Colonialism and the Search for Christ in the Caribbean

In December, my husband and I went on our first international trip. We had a great time just navigating our way through the island and exploring the culture, the landscape and enjoying 80-degree weather. But pretty quickly, we began to realize that there was a lot going on underneath the surface than just tropical vibes and warm breezes. I did research on Caribbean islands months ago, and Curacao started to pop up as a nice destination. It’s right by Aruba and just north of Venezuela. It’s owned by the Dutch like Aruba and St. Maarten. When we went to exchange our money after arriving, the security guard at the bank shared some interesting info. He told me about the racial tension still felt in his country from the Dutch population and that when he was interviewed for a job he was asked if he planned on doing something criminal. He explained to me that he was just like anyone else, desiring to have a good life and not by unscrupulous means. Oh my. I was fresh off the plane, and I had some telling info that ended up playing out during our time there.

We went to our resort, which was its own beautiful little paradise, located by Mambo Beach. I quickly learned that a great majority of people visiting the island are from Holland. There were some people from the US on the beach, but we didn’t encounter other Americans staying at the resort in the 7 days we were there. There were two restaurants on the property and the first morning of our stay we went to the more casual one. As we were walking up to take a seat, I noticed some older people staring at us (possibly Dutch). And when we sat down, they still continued to stare. It was quite disarming. Ironically, we weren’t the only brown people on the property. But the brown people who were there were workers — not guests. On a rare occasion, we’d see some other black people eating at the restaurants, but we discovered they were natives to the island, not guests of the resort.

On another occasion, we went to the more upscale restaurant and enjoyed the live jazz. At one point, I got up to use the restroom and when I returned to the table, my husband told me a man at one of the tables gave me a disgusted look as I passed by him. That was a first for me (or at least to my knowledge). Thankfully I did not see him looking at me, but it emphasized the plight that those of African descent face. Quite often, we are not looking for reasons to focus on or declare racism but rather people remind us that (in their eyes) we don’t belong or there is something inherently wrong with us or our presence. My younger years were more free and unmarred when I moved among people who looked like me. But as the years have passed, gestures, words and scenarios made me more and more aware that I am often viewed through a lens of bias, curiosity or racism. But I’m just like the security guard at the bank. I want to live a life where I am not conscious of the skin I live in, but others remind me that to them it’s an issue or, at the very least, an oddity.

And this was all happening under the backdrop of Christmas. It’s a holiday that’s very meaningful to me as a Christian and it was the first time I was in another country during this time of year. There were beautiful decorations at the resort and often I’d hear famous Christmas songs playing in the common areas of the property.


When we visited Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, there were a couple of decorative scenes that were quite pretty. But I never saw anything overtly referring to the birth of Christ. It was just secular with some holiday touches. No nativity scenes here as you can see below.


On the fourth day of our trip, we went on an excursion that took us around the island while we learned more about the history of the country and experienced the natural wonders too. Our first tour stop was a small lake where flamingos live. By the lake, there’s a monument commemorating the first revolt of the African slaves for freedom from the Dutch. There are six other markers around the island just like it. During our vacation, I just sensed this overall undercurrent of the haves and have nots and that many times the haves were of Dutch origin. For me it was another reminder that in a completely different culture and country, the residue of the sin of slavery and racism still permeates the land. And the only answer to all of this is CHRIST. Nations fail to recognize that without Him, humanity is prone to do what humanity often does: fall way short of what’s right and good. How many times has man done horrific things for profit? And man is no different today with his insidious schemes to amass wealth and power. Money in and of itself is not wrong, but people are easily corrupted by their pursuit of it. The word has a simple take on greed: “For the love of money is the root of all evil” 1 Timothy 6:10


And though living in the world as a black woman is not always easy, I realize that people who are not saved and harbor racism/bias in their heart cannot see me in all my humanity. They can’t see ME as an individual because the world has sold them a lie. And without the spirit of Christ in them, there is no conviction of wrongdoing. The universal need to be accepted and loved is something we can all understand. Even our own family and loved ones don’t always fully embrace us. But total acceptance is only through Jesus Christ. He loves beyond race, gender, sexual identity, income, class, etc. In the Father’s eyes, we are seen purely as His children, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).


I’ll admit that my Christianity was challenged during my time in the Caribbean. I had to remember that who I am in Christ is more than how others may view me with their eyes. And though the season of celebrating the birth of my Savior reminds me of the love of Christ, to many it’s just another holiday. My responsibility is to display the heart of Jesus to others and pray that the world comes to realize that life is more than food and clothes (Luke 12:23). This experience also reminded me that I don’t have all the answers to the frustration of race relations in a world system fashioned by fallible man. And sometimes when I write, words fail me as I cannot fully express how much the Lord is grieved by the racial divide in our world. My hope is that more people of Christ will become more willing to confront what concerns the Father.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” — Psalm 82:3 

“This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” — Jeremiah 22:3

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” — Isaiah 1:17

1619-2019: Never Forget

I remember the day 9/11 happened. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in Michigan and I was on my way to work when I heard about the planes crashing. I remember parking my car and seeing people jumping out of their cars to run into the office to hear more about what was happening. This was all pre-social media, but we still had the internet. But going online was a mess because the website traffic made finding out anything impossible. Eventually, my boss found someone with a TV and we heard for ourselves what was happening: We had been attacked on our very soil with our own property. It was a surreal day. We were allowed to leave early from the office and life was so strange and mournful for quite awhile. And though I was not affected by that day directly, the repercussions of that moment are still felt today throughout everyone’s life in America. No one denies the horror of the day and how much that changed our nation. 9/11 is a sacred cow to many. Fervent patriots loudly exclaim, “Never forget!” and many proudly declare their allegiance to God and country. I love my country. It is my home. And I love it enough to recognize that we should be striving to make it a “more perfect union.” Because as our divisive climate is telling us, we are not very united. The genesis of America has sowed seeds of discord and the fallout was always inevitable.

art blur bright candlelight
Photo by Hakan Erenler on

In 1619, more than 20 nameless Africans came here by way of Virginia. This past August marked 400 years since the first African slaves landed on American shores. And ever since then, our country has paid a heavy price for its sin. The consequences are paid by the descendants of these said slaves and the turmoil our fractured country suffers because we’ve never collectively dealt with the past. But when we talk about the ugliness of the past that Americans have inflicted on its own citizens and those who were brought here by force, there’s a resounding chorus of “It’s in the past.” or “Let it go.” Let’s not live with false illusions that capitalism wasn’t the driving force for the reason slavery and Jim Crow existed. The wealth and prestige America has enjoyed is due in great part to this history. And the very descendants of those who helped build this nation still suffer untold injustice on incalculable levels. We can’t forget what happened because it’s still affecting us today.

When Jews speak of the Holocaust, they declare, “Never forget.” And their pain and history is widely respected and rarely minimized. But so many times, blacks are chided like children if we even whisper about our history. No one would dare silence someone memorializing D-Day. It’s been 75 years since that landing in Normandy became a turning point for WW II and it’s honored around the globe. In 2003, I visited Pearl Harbor. I walked onto the living memorial and experienced its eerie quiet and solemn silence. It was sobering to know that it’s still the watery grave to countless members of our military since 1941. December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day and that moment is considered a “day that will live in infamy.” That hull and its remains are treated as sacred ground. But when we discuss a 400-year history of oppression and all the evils that resulted, defensiveness rises to the surface. Maybe it’s because we can’t point a finger at another country or invader for the horrors of the past and the aftereffects. The blame rests squarely on America’s doorstep. And that’s hard to admit. The best option for many is to ignore or minimize it. It calls for work many of us opt out of doing. When slavery ended, there were no counseling sessions held, no town hall meetings arranged, no person-to-person accountability or “come to Jesus” moment. People were angry, filled with rage that their way of life had been taken away. Families had been destroyed, men, women and children violated and abused on every level but lacked provision, restitution or a way to cope with the past. The slave trade, Jim Crow and the horrific legacy of it are like the disfigured brother of America. He’s hidden in the basement in the dark, not to be disturbed or mentioned for fear of revealing the shame of itself. As Jim Crow ensued, it continued to codify slavery but by another name. We marched on as a country broken, bleeding, scarred with no physician or therapist to patch us up. So in many ways, we’ve become a Frankenstein, patching together revisionist history that never addresses the fact that we’ve been botched from the very inception of this nation. Just ask any Native American how they feel about the history of this nation to hear their story too. 

Many times God ordered the Children of Israel to create memorials to acknowledge His hand in their lives so as to “never forget” His works on their behalf. Remembering and memorializing is a powerful tool to acknowledge the past and all the lessons that come from it. As the images of 9/11 unfolded over the days and weeks that followed, I can’t help but remember seeing faces draped in shock, covered in ash. People of all races came together. Every color helped each other because on that day we were one, we were humans in a shared horror story. We weathered that devastation together — white and black, brown and blue. We faced a mutual enemy from without. And now that the darkness of our past loudly haunts us today, many vociferously deny its existence while our nation implodes from the inside out. If we can muster the courage to personally address one of the biggest issues of our nation, we may begin to resemble the best parts of us we demonstrated on September 11, 2001.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” — Ephesians 2:14

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” — 1 Corinthians 1:10

Racism, the Plan of the Enemy

From language to animals, the earth is full of variety. Even food from different countries has a distinct flavor that becomes a cultural signature. So we can start to assume that the Creator of Heaven and Earth enjoys more than one kind of thing. Ever heard the phrase “Variety is the spice of life”? It’s because He authored all the ingredients. So I think it’s safe to start to assume that when it comes to man, being made in God’s own likeness and image (Genesis 1:26) would naturally encompass every hue on the human spectrum.

Ever since the fall of man (Genesis 3), the serpent has attempted to dismantle anything that reflects God’s presence. Humanity is his target at all times. We have an invisible enemy. His intent is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He will use anything to take us down. One of his biggest weapons against mankind is racism. When people play into his hands, filling themselves with lies about those created in the Lord’s likeness and image, they’ve allowed the enemy to win territory in their heart. He now has a stronghold, teaching people to fear, condemn, prejudge and even hate God’s own creation. You may not believe that Satan exists. That’s very convenient for him. He can stealthily move through your life, using anything in your vicinity — with no resistance from you. Those who believe in Jesus are protected from the enemy’s plans because of His covering through His blood. So though the enemy can have ideas and schemes, the Lord declares “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Photo by Snapwire on

Racism is the plan of the enemy, but not just to cause chaos, pain and heartache on earth. See this joker knows that his time on earth is short. And he wants to take as many people down with him as possible. Misery loves company, right? If he can get humankind to be so filled with hate, disgust and rage, how can man ever see God? See, Satan wants to take away the gift of salvation from man. Cause at the end of the day he is the biggest hater there is. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and brings confusion. It only took one question from the serpent in the Garden of Eden to help bring about the fall of humanity. So imagine what he can do by dividing people based on race. Well, you don’t really have to do you? Sadly, we hear and read about it all the time.

low angle photo of two men fighting in boxing ring
Photo by Sides Imagery on

To me the saddest commentary in this country about racism is that many American Christians are the most silent when it comes to talking about it. We are one of the most segregated populations on any day of the week, not just Sunday. Throughout our every day lives, many Christians will only spend time with other Christians that resemble themselves. This was never God’s plan. So again, you have to assume that this is an evil scheme concocted to separate His children. Jesus even said,“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24) The church is NOT a building. It is people who make up the church, the Body of Christ. We are called lively stones (1 Peter 2:5). So if our stones are not fitted closely together and connected by every supporting ligament (Ephesians 4:16), then our work to express love to a dying world doesn’t have full effect. So when bias and prejudice run wild and unchecked in our country by God’s people, He’s grieved. How can He not be when the very people that Jesus expects to stand for the truth stay silent. There is no debating that Jesus helped those suffering, oppressed and forgotten. Many Christians are very passionate about timely issues in America (i.e., abortion, LGBTQ rights) and express those views with fervency, but the issues like equal access to education, mass incarceration and police brutality go largely ignored.

We have a pretty tainted history in the United States: genocide of Natives, slavery, Jim Crow, segregation. It ain’t pretty. Though history books may try to gloss over these sins, the Lord has not. There are repercussions for sin whether or not it’s repented. If you don’t think so, check out the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel. David loved God like crazy, but he was an adulterer and a murderer. His reign as King of Israel started gloriously. But because of his grievous actions, his time as king went out with a whimper and immorality and death ran throughout his bloodline. There was a price to be paid. And as I ponder on the church, scripture and God’s requirement for Christians to operate as one, I can only conclude that it’s past time for us to turn back the tide of hurt, anger, bitterness and confusion that has infested our nation. We need to begin to have hard discussions, visit communities outside our own world and be willing to seek God for answers. If we continue down this path of denial believing everything is fine, we blind our hearts to what God is showing us in this season. We are born in this time for a reason. Let’s use it to the glory of God and thwart the plans of the enemy. ~~THB

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIV)
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.