For a month and a half I had been seething. My body had carried a sorrowful rage that I could not put into words.
Here’s how it started: A white woman claiming to be my friend said I had gotten “so far off on all this hatred,” and then said she would pray that who I am in “Christ is greater than the color of [my] skin.” Incensed and also grieved by her words, I removed her from my social media and personal devices. I went and laid down in my bed. Zora Neale Hurston’s words flashed in my mind:
“If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
While within evangelical Christianity, I had shoved entire facets of myself into mental prison cells. Flattening myself. Shrinking myself. Being a black woman was enough to make me invisible, but it was not enough to be invisible. Invisible and in agony seemed to be required. Social issues that I felt I had purpose in were unrighteous by evangelical standards.
- “The media is bad and deters you from your faith.” OK. Lock up my journalistic side.
- “Feminism is evil and opposing to Christ.” OK. Lock up my passion for gender equality and equity.
- “In the covenant of Christ, your color no longer matters.” OK. Lock up my unalienable right for justice.
I went along with their conservative indoctrination. Being told what they said was the truth. Interesting. Christ said the truth makes one free. But that truth had me bound, reduced to a puppet, and feeling guilty when I wanted to speak against racial injustice, defend the news media, and advocate for women’s rights.
The irony. My “friend” accuses me of being “off”, focused on hatred, and putting my color before Christ. Yet, history tells me that out of a need for power and control white-skinned Europeans artistically portrayed Christ as a white European and flaunted that image at black and indigenous people of color as a means to dominate and destroy them.
“In 1807 most people agreed that the slave trade was an ethical and religious outrage. But if that was true in 1807, why had it NOT been the case in 1707? In fact, few people raised their voice against the Atlantic slave trade until the mid-eighteenth century.”*
That is more than 100 years of human genocide and brutality.
“The suffering of the Africans on the ships and plantations were undeniable, but raised barely a whimper. Indeed godly men came to think of the trade as a simple fact of life. To modern eyes it seems incongruous. God-fearing men going about their godless business.”*
But I am the one who is off and putting my color in place of Christ? No, it is because of Christ that I see my color is not inferior, a threat, or a death sentence. That in the eyes of God I truly do matter, They do not require me to dismiss and ignore injustice for false peace.
As I broke free from abusive marriages, I realized that there was another abuser in my life. An abuser who also denied, diminished, and dismissed my humanity who wanted to have power and control over my thoughts and actions. The evangelical Christian church.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
The covid-19 pandemic kept us out of church, and the 2020 election year further unmasked the real hatred in the U.S.–white supremacy. Initially, I attempted civil discourse about racism and injustice. Debates went on and on. Eventually, I accepted that my peers understood, they just did not care. White supremacy served them; they benefited from it. The harsh reality is that they would rather dehumanize me in the name of white Euro Jesus, than love me as Christ commanded.
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
So, the spirit of God turned my attention to my mental prison cells, and They unlocked and opened them. The Creator has been restoring to me wholeness. These sections of myself were derived of the Almighty’s divinity. They wonderfully built me, and said it is very good. How blasphemous to say and act otherwise.
“Such as I am, I am a precious gift.”
Note: All quotes from Zora Neale Hurston, author, anthropologist, and filmmaker
*Source: Walvin, James (2008) “Slavery, the Slave Trade and the Churches,” Quaker Studies: Vol. 12: Iss. 2, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/quakerstud…/vol12/iss2/3