A Dark Virgin’s Magnificat

Working at the intersections of Abolition, Black Spirituality, and Scholarship, Johari Jabir (Black Studies, Univ. of Illinois Chicago) taught the course, “Black Lives in Historic Context” at three sites concurrently; on campus as an undergraduate course, Covenant UCC in South Holland, Ill, and Stateville Penitentiary outside Chicago. Students at Stateville enrolled in the course through the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP), of which Johari is an ongoing instructor. The course focused on themes of Slavery, Abolition Democracy, and Citizenship in the 19th Century. A concluding colloquium brought these three learning communities together in person, with PNAP students joining by zoom. “The Urgency of Abolition and Ethical Futures” was the writing and discussion prompt for the group. When PNAP students were finally able to sign on the greeting between these three populations was a kind of advent miracle, a flash of God’s light. 

The event inaugurates something Johari has founded called, The Faith and Abolition Network, a radical ecumenical network of people in support of grassroots anti-prison activism. This is the context Johari crafted this poem on Mary’s Magnificat. 

——————————–

I wish I had been there
when Mary got the news
Hark the herald the angels sing
but Gabriel sang the blues

Jesus’ mama
Lady Guadalupe
Black Madonna
Dark Virginite

Blessed is she among women, Masha Amini (2000-2020)
Blessed is she among women, Breana Taylor (1993-2020)
Blessed is she among women, Shireen Abu Akleh (1971-2022)
Blessed is she among women, Kandii Redd (1992-2022)

Mary’s soul was magnified
the name of her son was sanctified
and the Christo-white fascists are pissed
because they could not keep God’s love from being glorified

Mary had a baby, my lord
A fierce storm of mercy washed over the earth
Mary rejoiced, singing “now is the time for us ALL to give birth!”
the amazon forest breathed a sigh of relief
warehouse workers walked out, good will on earth, peace

where was he born
planned parenthood clinic
Chicago cook county
on his head a price
the empire’s bounty
danger manger
immigrants crossing over
but we are the strangers
willfully blinded to our racist supernova

what did they call him
LOVE
their love is a sin, their love is shame
the praise team chants, the preacher rants
in flesh and love, to earth he came
still, nobody knows his name

Mary did you know
the poor abandoned their mega churches
using their tithes for God’s great feast
and the rich had no other choice
than to find their home in the streets
“God favors not one but all” Mary proclaimed,
“simple communal abundance is the reason Christ came”

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