Iyanla Vanzant proud of her American Indian Lineage
We are such a diverse and beautiful blend of cultures. Inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant gives insight to her Yoruba / American Indian bloodline and heritage .
KK: If you came from a Pentecostal background, how did this attract you?
IV: Yoruba (an ethnic group mostly in Nigeria) is my matriarchal lineage, so I was raised understanding my relationship to the Creator. The grandmother I grew up with, my father’s mother who took me to the Pentecostal church, was Native American. She never let her culture go but she hid it because it wasn’t acceptable in the church to talk about Father/Mother God or to recognize Mother Earth or nature spirits. It certainly wasn’t acceptable to do anything African.
As soon as I turned 16 or 17, and no one could force me to go to church anymore, I stopped going. I always knew that wasn’t how I wanted to engage with God. African culture and Native American culture don’t think in terms of religion. Their spirituality is incorporated into everyday living.
When I bumped into New Thought, those teachings aligned with what I knew as a Native American and felt as an African. I found in Unity a philosophy that made sense to me as opposed to being taught I was going to hell for everything, even for eating chicken the wrong way.
“My grandmother was a native American who grew up in the south and pretended to be black because the discrimination was easier if you were black than Native American. That was the switch, the spare the rod, spoil the child mentality that was prevalent in the south so we got beat. “