If Jesus Were Black: Chapter Four

After the Harlem Block Party, Jesus’ fame went to a whole other level. Everybody was talkin’ about my mans. I’m talkin’ kids, youths, grown-behind men and women, blacks Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and every other culture in Harlem. His music was a like a disease and He was infecting the city like He had a vendetta. And what’s crazy is that my mans wasn’t even selling His albums. He was just giving them out for free. Judas kept telling Him that He’d make mad bread if He just sold them for a dollar a piece. But Jesus kept saying, “Your freedom is free. It only costs for Me.” But we had no idea what He meant.

But you’d never believe who else wanted a piece of Jay—those white dudes who had called the cops. One day they invited Him over their house for dinner and Jesus brought me, Peter, James, and John over with Him.

We got there and from jump street, I knew these dudes were faker than a bad weave. They didn’t even shake our hands when we walked in and just had us standing there looking stupid in their fancy living room. They talked a good game about how they really wanted to get to know Him and understand Him, but we all could smell the phoniness.

“I just want to understand what You believe God wants for this city,” the main guy said. His name was Simon.
“It’s real simple,” Jesus told him. “People are in pain, poverty, and prison. God wants to heal them, feed them, and free them. And I’m here to make sure every black man and woman in this city gets healed, fed, and freed.”

The way Jesus talked changed when He was talking to white people. He didn’t use the slang He threw around when He was with us. It was a lot more sophisticated. But one thing that didn’t change was His tone. His voice still had that commanding tone that made you feel like He was two seconds from snapping your neck even if He was just saying, “Hello”.

Simon and his buddies took deep breaths and Simon shook his head.
“But the people you’re associating with,” he looked at me and the boys. “Some of them are criminals.”
I saw Peter move in his seat to jump up in Simon’s face. But Jesus gave him a look and he relaxed.
“It looks like you’re condoning this…this… lifestyle,” Simon went on. “The Bible says—”

There was a knock at the door and one of Simon’s friends answered it.
“Jesus!” a woman shouted. And she slipped in past Simon’s friend and rushed into the room.
“Hey!” the white man shouted. “You can’t be in here!”
Jesus jumped to His feet and the woman stopped in front of Him. Peter tapped my leg as we looked her up and down. She was a fine piece of work and had long, wavy brown hair, smooth, caramel skin, full lips, and a figure that made me wanna slap my mamma. She was wearing a bright purple Lakers jacket made out of pure leather and from where I was sitting, I could see signatures embroidered into the sleeves in gold lettering.

“It’s that girl, bro,” Peter whispered to me. “That chick from 136th.”
“I know, Peter,” I said to him.
We all knew. Everyone in this room knew who this chick was. But these white dudes were probably the only ones with enough money to take her out for a ride. We’d all just been happy to watch her work those late nights strutting up and down 136th.

“She’s a bottom girl,” Peter kept whispering.
“I know, Peter,” I repeated. I wanted to at least get to enjoy this delicious piece of fineness before Jesus caught me staring. I didn’t know what I’d give for a night with her. But I couldn’t even afford any piece of clothing on her, let alone her. And that Lakers jacket looked like it had the signatures of every player on the team on it. No doubt her pimp had given it to her as a gift.

“My name’s Mary,” the woman said. “I’ve listened to all your albums and I feel like…” She could barely finish her sentence. “Like you’re talkin’ straight to me.”
Jesus just smiled back at her. Then she pulled off her jacket and put it on His shoulders.
The room went dead silent. I could hear Peter’s heart banging next to me. I couldn’t tell if it was cuz he was getting excited from looking at her or because he was so nervous about what was happening. Cuz I had no idea where this was going. But it didn’t look good at all. And from the looks on the white dudes faces, I could tell they were not having this. If they hadn’t made up their minds about Jesus before this, it was definitely made now.

Then Mary sniffled and the next thing we knew she was crying and wrapping her arms around Jesus. Jesus hugged her back and she went on crying and holding Him for a good ten minutes. And we all just sat there in complete silence, watching the hottest chick in Harlem holding Jesus like He’d just given her the time of her life. The look on James and John said, “Jesus is one lucky man.” The look on Simon and his friends said, “This is all we need to see. This guy is trouble.”

Finally, Jesus pulled away from Mary. He waved His hand at a tissue box on the coffee table and Peter handed it to Him. And as Mary wiped her tears, Jesus broke the silence.

“Simon,” He said. “One time there were these two guys who lived in the same apartment. One owed the landlord one month’s rent and the other owed him a whole year’s rent. The landlord decided to cancel the rent they owed and to let them start paying next month. Which one of them do you think would love the landlord more?”

Simon swallowed and took a deep breath, I guess wondering what rent had to do with a prostitute randomly barging into his house. “I suppose the one who owed the most money.”

Jesus nodded. “You invited me over your house. It was my birthday last week and you didn’t get me anything. But this woman brought me this expensive jacket. I came in here and you didn’t even shake My hand. But she hugged me for ten minutes. She’s got a lot of sin in her past, but because she’s been forgiven, she loves me more.” Then He looked at Mary and said to her, “Everything’s gonna be good. I’ll take care of you now.”

And that’s how Mary became a part of the crew. And it’s also how Jesus got Himself in a lot more trouble. Because Peter was right—she was a bottom girl, which meant she was her pimp’s most valuable chick. And that pimp just happened to be Ice Cold Chris, the most infamous pimp in Harlem.

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