The humble prayer of an outcast

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018

by Kenya Smith

As a kid, I spent my Sunday nights watching Disney movies on ABC. One of the movies that I enjoyed watching was the animated version of Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The movie centers around Quasimodo, a young bell ringer who is forced by his pious and self-righteous master Claude Frollo to live in isolation at the bell tower of Notre Dame Cathedral tower due to his deformity.

There is one character in the movie that stood out. Esmeralda is a young Romani (Gypsy) woman who advocated for Quasimodo when he was publicly ridiculed at the Feast of Fools. Like Quasimodo, Esmeralda also experiences rejection because in the public’s eye, especially Frollo’s, the Romani people are considered immoral. Because of this belief, Frollo desires to make Paris “pure” by exterminating the Romani people. Esmeralda finds sanctuary at the cathedral and sings “God Help the Outcasts.” This song is Esmeralda’s humble prayer to God to watch over those who are considered outcasts by humanity, including her own people. I believe it’s a song that many of us can relate to today because there is so much bigotry and division in this country and around the world.

Recently, there has been a trend of people calling the police on black men, women and even children for doing everyday things such as cutting the grass, going to a pool, throwing a social gathering and even campaigning for public office. Then, there are incidents where black people are threatened with racial slurs. It’s not just happening to black people. Hundreds of immigrants are still being held at the border, separated from their families. This week, a man harassed a woman and called her “un-American” for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt, and a 92-year-old Mexican man was hit with a brick by a woman who later told him to go back to his country. There was another video of a woman who was mocking a Korean-American serviceman by making the slant-eye gesture and telling him that he didn’t belong in America.

As Christians, we cannot ignore the bigotry and prejudice that has been crippling this country for years. We must be able to also confront our own prejudices and generalizations of people from different ethnic, social, religious and economic backgrounds. It’s one thing to say that we are not prejudiced, but another thing to live it out. I know that are many of us in the Body of Christ who are doing everything in their power to express grace and mercy to those who are different. However, we can do better because many of us know better.

We must remember the numerous incidents in the Bible where Jesus encountered those who were considered outsiders. Also, we must remember that Jesus was an outsider as well. In closing, remember this line from Esmeralda’s song. “God help the outcast, hungry from birth. Show them the mercy they don’t find on earth. God help my people. We look to you still. God help the outcasts or nobody will.”

KENYA SMITH is an intern at The Tidewater News. Contact her at 562-3187 or