Is the Rasta movement a Black movement? Of course it is. Do you have to be Black to be a Rasta? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Today, if you ask a Rasta Reggae Musician, if only Blacks can become Rasta, the answer will be a resounding “NO”. That is because the main goal of a Reggae artiste is to sell records, sell out shows and be on yearlong tours. Regardless of what a Rasta artiste says in his music, reaching Mount Zion is secondary to his ultimate financial goal.
80 percent of all the monies spent on music around the world, is spent by whites. So it makes sense that a movement that is dominated by musicians rather than spiritual leaders, is welcoming to the main consumers of music. For the creator of the movement, however, there is no doubt that Rasta was created solely as a Black movement and its only goal was to solve the problem of oppression imposed on Black people by racist white supremacy doctrines.
The creator and founder of the Rasta movement was Percival Leonard Howell more commonly known as “The Gong” and was referred to as “Gong”.
Howell was a student of Marcus Garvey and created the Rasta movement based on the teachings of Garvey. For those who study Garvey teachings, it is obvious that these teachings were strictly for Black people. In fact, there is little wiggle room to think otherwise.
While Marcus Garvey was a Christian, he had a totally different take on Christianity than most Black Christians.
“God has no color, and yet it is human to see everything through ones own spectacles, and since the white people have seen their god thru their white spectacles, we have only now started to see our God thru our own Spectacles. We believe in the God of Ethiopia, the everlasting God; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy One, the one God of all the Ages; that is the God of whom we believe but we shall worship HIM thru the spectacles of Ethiopia,” Garvey said in one of his most famous speeches.
That’s where the wiggle room in Garvey’s teachings come in. If a white person believes in the God of Ethiopia then shouldn’t he or she be able to become a Rasta? It might seem that way but when you consider Garvey’s position on things like interracial relationships, it is at least up for debate on whether or not he thought the movement could be extended to whites.
“I shall teach the black man to see beauty in his own kind and stop bleaching his skin and otherwise looking like what he’s not. Back in the days of slavery, Race mixture, Race miscegenation all occurred because the Black woman had no protection from the slave master… Therefore there is no need today for black people themselves to freely continue a practice that smacks so much of slavery,” Garvey taught.
Of course today’s version of Rasta is a far cry from the days of Marcus Garvey and Leonard Howell because it sometimes seems like some black men become Rasta for the sole purpose of getting a white woman. In fact, about half of all Reggae artistes are wither married to or in relationships with white women.
So yes, in what Rasta has become today, you do not have to be white to be a Rasta. However, when the Rasta movement started, you had to be Black to be a Rasta.
Below are some more spiritual food Marcus Garvey left behind for his people:
Future generations shall have in their hands the guide by which they shall know the sins of the 20th century. I know, and I know you to believe in time, but we shall wait patiently for 200 years if need be, to face our enemies for our prosperity. When mine enemies are satisfied, in life I shall come back or in death even to serve you as I served before. In life I shall be the same, in death I SHALL BE A TERROR to foes of African liberty.
If death hath power then conquer me to be the real Marcus Garvey I would like to be. If I may come in an earthquake, or a plague, or a pestilence, or if God would have me, then be assured that I shall never desert you and make your enemies triumph over you. Will I not go to hell a million times for you? If I die, my work will only just then begin. I shall live in a physical or spiritual to see the day of Africa’s Glory.
When I am dead, wrap the mantle of the Red, the Black and the Green around me for in a New Life I shall RISE UP with God’s grace and blessings to lead the millions to the heights of triumph that you well know. Look for me in the whirlwind or a storm, look for me all around you, for with God’s grace I shall come back with countless millions of Black men and women who have died in America, those who have died in the West Indies and those who have died in Africa to aid You in fight for liberty, freedom and life.