The Word Courier Annals- Green Eggs and Ham
The following was initially published in the Word Courier's Journal June 29,2012.
Dr. Seuss scripted the best sales job in literature’s history. His story comprised few words. It involved only two characters, a seller, and a buyer. The seller, Sam I Am, repeatedly harassed his singular targeted market. The buyer responded with an equally unwavering rebuttal to the prospect of dining on green eggs and ham. Finally, he relinquished simply to get Sam I Am to leave him alone. Sam’s persistence won out in the end.
The literary gem should be required reading for sales professionals. It shows that when one persists long enough, he can get anyone to accept anything. Similarly, people tend to believe anything as truth if it's heard often enough. (One example of this is the theory of evolution-but that can be the subject of another column)
The myth that black people are cursed because of Ham still lingers. It is time to put the Ham scam to rest.
The information that follows is not an earth shattering never told revelation. However, it will be new to some. The myth debunking begins with some background.
The slave masters and Jim Crow apologist of old perpetrated the Ham scam to justify their oppression of black Americans. They would point to the Genesis account (Genesis 9:20-27) whereby Ham sinned against his father Noah. According to them, Noah retaliated by cursing Ham and his descendants who happened to be Africans. A critical look at the appointed verses reveals otherwise.
Noah actually cursed Canaan and his progenies. He vowed that they would serve the offspring of Shem and Japheth, Ham’s brothers. (Genesis 9:25-27) Ham sired four sons mentioned in the scriptures. The other three were Cush, Mizraim and Phut. The other three remained un-cursed.
Cush- It is written that Cush begat Nimrod who it is said was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” Nimrod settled Shinar a region located within the borders of contemporary Iraq. Cush is used interchangeably with Ethiopia, the Greek term that translate to burned skin. The remaining descendants of Cush took up residence in the Middle East, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Cush is apparently African but not cursed.
Mizraim- Mizraim is a Hebrew reference to the physical features that define Egypt and the Nile River. The African descendants of Mizraim established what may well be the most accomplished civilization in history. The Pyramids stand tall to remind people of ancient Egypt’s grandeur. Egypt played a key role in Israeli biblical history. Moses led the Hebrews out from under bondage to Egypt. Joseph escorted his wife Mary and the young child Jesus to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. (Matthew 2:13-23)
Phut- The offspring of Phut settled into Libya. Simon the Cyrenian helped Jesus bear the cross on his march toward his temporary demise. Cyrene was a Libyan city.
Canaan gave rise to the Canaanites. The name/word Canaan indicates the colors red and purple. The color reference happens to identify a dye for which they were famous. The Canaanites mined the seas for this dye. It was held in high esteem and used to shade the fine fabrics of royalty.
The Canaanites appear frequently in the scriptures. They have often been the bad guy. For instance, the prophet Elijah fled Israel to escape Jezebel’s wrath. She was the Canaanite queen married to Israel’s King Ahab. She put a bounty on Elijah’s head. He then ran out to the wilderness and ironically made his way to a Canaanite city. The Canaanites were the proverbial thorn in Israel’s side.
The reviled Canaanites patrolled the Mediterranean coast as seafarers and merchants. They achieved a highly developed civilization. Yet, they practiced pagan worship. Baal was the chief deity of their pagan pantheon. He was believed to be the god of rain and fertility. The Bible states that the Canaanites dispersed throughout. (Genesis 10:18)
Where are they now?
The enslaved in the American continents, North and South were indigenous to West Africa. Today’s African Americans derived from people who come from this area of the world. It is possible that some among the dispersed Canaanites found their way to that region. It is also likely that many of West Africa’s inhabitants did not descend from Canaan. The bible states that Ham and his brothers populated the earth. However, it did not specify all peoples’ origins in Genesis 10th chapter. For example, the people in the America’s before Columbus, also known as Native Americans, were not listed. The people indigenous to the Pacific Rim are not specifically identified either. This is the case for people in West Africa too. A definite lineal relationship between the cursed Canaanites and America's slaves is not proven.
It is important for people to read the Bible for their own knowledge. Otherwise, God fearing believers will resign to a fate of oppression based upon the self-serving doctrinal twist of dishonest charlatans. The account recorded in genesis does not even hint of the erroneous claims made by the Ham scam.
Perhaps the second character in Dr. Seuss renowned tale should have refused the meal from which the story is named. Green eggs in particular sound nasty.