If Jesus Were Black: Chapter Three

I thought for sure that Jesus was gonna declare war on all the gangs in Harlem. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. After He took down the leader of the Latin Kings, He went through every gang leader in every corner of Harlem and smacked out their demons. And a year later, He’d managed a peace treaty between every single gang in Manhattan. The whole island had become a giant war-free zone.

But that wasn’t all Jesus was doing. He had us running after school programs with Him, hosting basketball tournaments for kids in the community, He was speaking at middle schools and high schools to recruit kids to join the movement, and He was healing people in hospitals. Cancer? Gone. HIV? Gone. Hepatitis? Gone. It got to the point where some hospitals started banning us from coming cuz they started losing money.

And on top of all this, Jesus was dropping new music every week and having concerts all over Harlem. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought He was on crack cuz He was moving so fast.

But one of the most whacked out things I ever saw Him do was at the Harlem Block Party.

“Yo, Mew!” Peter shouted at me. He was rushing down the sidewalk with a bag of plastic plates. “You got the burgers?”
“Me?” I asked him. “That wasn’t my job. That was Andrew.”
“Me?” Andrew yelled from the back of a moving truck behind me. He jumped down, holding a box of plastic forks and knives. “Bro, Jesus told me to get utensils. James was supposed to get burgers.”
“James is getting the ribs,” Peter corrected.
“Nah, bro, that was Judas.”
“Judas has the money, dummy! He gives us the money! We buy the food!”

I shook my head. We were idiots. All of Frederick Douglas Boulevard from 154th down to 126th was filled with tables of families waiting for food. Jesus had announced the biggest block party Harlem had ever seen and given all of us jobs to make it happen. He was gonna go down each block and perform a different song from His latest album so people would be getting food in their belly and in their soul, you feel me? Fire on the plates and fire on the mic, know what I mean? It was gonna be off the chain. But we couldn’t even remember who was supposed to bring the burgers and ribs. How were we gonna have a block party without burgers or ribs? Jesus was gonna kill us.

We had crips, bloods, and kings on every block ready to serve food side by side—a miracle bigger than having a black president—but we couldn’t figure out how to get burgers and ribs?!?!

And then, the worst thing happened.

“What’s going on?” Jesus asked, coming up behind us. He was calm as ever, but Peter dropped the bag of plates and Andrew dropped the box of utensils. I just rubbed the back of my head, pretending to mind my business.

“Where’s the food?” Jesus asked, looking at all of us.
“Ummmm…” Peter stuttered. “See, what had happened was…”
“You don’t have the food,” Jesus finished for him.
We shook our heads.
I waited for him to go off on us for being so stupid. But He didn’t. Instead, He turned back to Peter and pointed down the block. “Go down and find out what we do have and we’ll make something happen.”

I scratched my head. “Make something happen?” There were thousands of people lined up on this street and we were gonna just “make something happen”?
Peter came back a minute later with one plate in his hands. One. As in, uno.
“I got a piece of chicken and a couple of waffles,” he said.
I covered my mouth. I could already hear what Jesus was about to say, “Chicken and waffles?! You brought a plate of chicken and waffles! That’s the BEST YOU COULD DO? What am I supposed to do with this?”
Peter was about to get ROASTED.

But Jesus took the plate, nodded, and said, “I can work with this.”
I blinked and looked at Andrew. He was just as dumbfounded as I was.
Then Jesus put the plate inside the back of the truck Andrew had come out of. He took a deep breath, kept His back to us, then we heard Him say one line: “Thank You, Father.”

This was a joke. He was gonna turn back around and roast all of us for being so stupid. But when He turned around, He was holding a platter filled to the brim with waffles.

I stared at the waffles and my eyes went wide like a cartoon. I had no idea how this was possible. What kinda magic had He just done? The truck was empty. Andrew had just taken out the last box inside. Where did that platter come from? When I looked inside over Jesus’ shoulder, there were racks and racks of platters of waffles next to racks and racks of platters of fried chicken.

“These waffles ain’t gonna walk themselves, fellas,” Jesus said, handing me the platter. “Get to work.”

And just like that, we went on the move, bringing platters down the street to the hungry families waiting. And we found out real quick from Judas and James that other trucks had suddenly appeared on other blocks filled with chicken and waffles too. And an hour later, we were still unloading these mystery trucks that kept spitting out more and more platters, until all of Frederick Douglass was fed. To this day, I never understood how that happened, but it did.

And then, right when we were about to celebrate this miracle, the cops showed up, sirens blaring. The Devil is a liar.
“Is there a problem, officer?” Jesus asked.
“We got a complaint that gangs were selling drugs here,” the officer replied.
“That’s news to Me,” Jesus said. “Look around for yourself.”
And the officers went around, looking through the streets for the supposed drug dealers. But they didn’t find any. They came back several minutes later, Jesus gave them each a plate of chicken and waffles, and they went on their way.
“Buncha crackers,” Peter muttered as they left. “Just lookin’ for an excuse to shoot us up again.”
Jesus watched the officers walking away. “No, Peter. Somebody called ’em.”
“Who?” Peter sucked his teeth.

And that’s when I noticed there were some people watching us on the corner—a group of white men in suits and ties holding Bibles in their hands. I recognized their faces from billboards downtown. They were deacons in this all-white church on Broadway. What were they doing all the way up here? But from the way they were looking at us and from the fact that none of them had a single plate of food in their hands, I knew that these dudes were bad news.

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