You’re Already Black Enough 

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Two years ago, I went on a prilgramage through Israel. I walked on land I’ve read about all my life. I stood in places that I had only imagined. I was baptized in the Jordan, took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee while listening to “How Great Is Our God” and I swam in the Dead Sea. The entire experience was life altering. Some memories are recorded here on my blog, some are pictured on Facebook, but there’s one I haven’t wanted to share until now. 

Picture it Israel 2015…

It was around 75 degrees outside and kinda cloudy so not exactly why I’d consider swimming weather, but I definitely didn’t want to come all the way to the Dead Sea and not get in! I’m the queen of just doing stuff to say that I did it. (A blog all by itself!) 

But I didn’t wanna just do it for the fun of it. We were told that the sea is dead because it’s so salty that it kills any species of animal that tries to live in it. It also has so many minerals in the thick clay textured mud at the bottom of the sea that acts as an exfoliant. 

So here I am swimming and playing in the sea just enjoying my life. 

And I noticed that people are putting the mud on their bodies. They have it on their arms, legs and faces. I hear them talking about how good it feels! So naturally, I have to join in. I’m not gonna miss an experience! (Especially since I’d already had a great olive scrub facial days before.) 

So I joined in the fun! I could barely stand in the mud. It was so thick and sticky, but each scoop felt amazing in my hands and I loved how it felt on my skin. I knew I looked as hilarious and childlike as everyone else so I had a friend snap a pic. 


I got back in the water and that’s when he said it. “Claricha, you don’t need that. You’re already Black enough.”


(I wish this guy was Black, btw.)

I didn’t even know how to respond to that. I didn’t even know if it was really happening. Before I could gather my spinning thoughts of “Did he just say?” “Lord, I know You don’t want me to go off in the middle of the Dead Sea!” “He really said that to me? To me?!” he had gleefully swam away. 

That night I sought counsel from a female Black pastor who I’d bonded with on the trip. She helped me come up with a script so that I could address the statement and the next morning I delivered. 

But here I am two years later, to the day, still stunned by how easily those words flowed from his mouth and how LEGITIMATELY shocked he was by my offense to the statement. He had no idea it sounded racist until I told him. 

As a young person, I know how to relate to seasoned people. As a woman, I know how to be successful in a man’s world. As a Black person, I know how to live in a Whitewashed culture.

The opposite is rarely true. Privileged people are privileged because they have the luxury of living life without ever considering  how their words and actions could be perceived by people in other groups. 

This is just another example of why it’s sometimes a hard choice live life as a Black Christian. Church culture and Christianity don’t shield us from the unintentional and intentional traumatic Anti-Black or racist acts/words. 

OhCAE… I’m done. 

Black Christian Millennial Survival Kit: 2017 Edition

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I’m a Black Christian Woman.  I’m a Christian Millennial.   I’m a Black Millennial.

I’m Black. I’m a Christian. I’m a Millennial. And all that matters all the time.

But it feels like they matter even more with the inauguration of Billionaire Donald Trump being just hours away.

I kinda went into detail in Dear White Jesus… about navigating the life of an advocate who identifies as Christian, but I feel like we need a little more focus to help us make it through this year and beyond.

So here are a few things every Black Christian Millennial should have in her/his survival kit.

You have to…

1. …have right mindset.

Paul was serious when he said “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Last night, I heard my pastor say, “We need to train like soldiers, not athletes. Athletes train to play games. Soldiers are always preparing for a battle.”

That’s us, friends. Anybody who is tasked with loving people who speak, act and vote against us is engaged in a battle. But I’ve read the end of the book, we win.

2. …focus.

Who are you doing this for? I’m specifically talking to millennials who chose Christianity for themselves. Are you a Christian on purpose? If you are, what’s that purpose. Keep your focus on why you are doing this. Do not let church or church people push you away from Christ. It’s tempting, but when those thoughts come up, CAST. THEM. DOWN.

3. …indulge your creative side.

This is serious work. Already, you may feel depleted because you’re a lazy entitled millennial.

Contrary to what media likes to say, millennials are hardworking people. Many of us juggle multiple jobs. Give yourself time to just be. Sing. Dance. Write. Learn something new. Do not get overwhelmed.

4. …get drunk in worship regularly.

Lose yourself in the presence of the Lord. Really get drunk. Your mind will benefit from you taking a break from reality. The world will benefit from you bringing heaven down and changing reality.

5. [In all thy getting,]…get an understanding.

We can’t afford to be ignorant of political processes. Get involved in your community. Read articles from credible sources. Ask questions!!

6. …respectfully, challenge your loved ones.

We can’t afford to continue to engage in conversations with people whose perspectives we don’t understand. Don’t be so afraid of being offensive that you become comfortable being passive. We have to love these people for real. Love doesn’t always leave people with fuzzy feelings. (Think Jesus on the cross.)

7. Pray.

You have a God you can talk to directly. Don’t forget that. Pray for change. Pray for wisdom. Pray for focus. Pray for your leaders. Pray for our future. Pray for this nation. Pray for the Kingdom to come. Pray for revival.

Pray for yourself. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad about what’s happening. People on the outside don’t really understand the cognitive dissonance we deal with sometimes by being Black and Christian during a historical period when there are fewer religious people than ever before. Believing in holiness and fairness at the same time doesn’t always seem likes it’s allowed. Watching a Black president prep a racist, misogynist and every other ist is hard, but allow the Lord to heal you.

We gone be alright, OhCAE?!

Dear White Jesus…

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Last night, we watched President Barack Obama give his heart-wrenching farewell address in Chicago. Along with many of my Facebook friends, I found myself reminiscing on my college days. The first time I voted for president, I voted for a Black man. Even then I was aware of how big of a deal that was. But coupled with those feelings of nostalgia was the ever present nagging of the knowledge that I know a lot of people who are planning a party for his last day in office. They’re  planning a parade for Trump’s election because they are actually excited for these next four years.

You see, as a pro-Black devout Christian I navigate a complicated existence. I live by Proverbs 31. Not the part we quote about what a woman should be and do, but the part that talks about how it’s our responsibility to defend the defenseless. (Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8) My life’s work is to serve children who live in urban areas, as well as their families. I am a Black person who’s aware of what it means to be Black in America. I work daily to awaken other people to those implications. As a Christian, it is important to me that people understand truth. I understand how oppression is lifted by accepting truth.

I’m an advocate by nature, trade and calling. So it’s a struggle for me to align myself with a brand of politics that makes its name based on oppressing others who don’t believe what Christians believe.

A few nights ago, I watched Meryl Streep’s viral speech where she expresses something that reminded me of sentiment I heard from a conservative Christian figure.

They both expressed that when the leader of the country does something it permits citizens to do the same. The concept is that when a leader does something it conveys the message that the behavior and/or belief is a new societal norm. Meryl Streep was referring to Trump’s overall childishness and his mocking of people with differing abilities. The religious person referred to President Obama’s allegiance to LGBTQ people.

So… what does this have to do with the title of this post?

White Jesus is the guy  in the pictures we grew up believing was Jesus. Only perceived white supremacy could make it okay to depict a god with skin that light to represent someone born in Bethlehem.

White Jesus is the one who has pushed many Black people away from Jesus and church because his followers beat White Jesus into some Africans and their descendants through slavery. Then those White Jesus followers used the bible to explain why slavery was just. The bible has stories of enslaved people. It doesn’t condone it. The scriptures that speak about slaves obeying their masters are instructions to help people live in the society that existed. They don’t say the society was right.

White Jesus is the ultra privileged guy who validates conservatives’ beliefs that they are justified in their practices of blocking and hating legislation that benefits LGBTQ people and that supports people’s ability to choose what happens in and to their bodies. They do this while simultaneously hating refugees, poor people, people of color AND Muslims (and any other religious group). All of their anger about policies and support of policies that ostracize people groups are all in the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus… Jesus, the man born in a place that wasn’t his home. Jesus, the Middle Eastern man who hung out with sinners. Jesus, the man who crossed the ethnic and societal lines and offered living water to a woman at a well. Jesus, the God who came so that EVERYONE could have access to life and that more abundantly.

I don’t have a problem with him, per se, but White Jesus has a whole lot of followers though and they make it really hard to go to church or want to get to know the real Jesus.

White Jesus makes me aware of the social privilege I have because I’m a Christian living in Western society. Having privilege is almost uncomfortable for me as a Black woman. However, living with identity markers that are historically oppressed makes it impossible for me to not use my agency to speak out against wrong doings by others in my group.

He Is Listening

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In high school I was very depressed but I kept it a secret. So I secretly cried many nights and that was my only relief.When I got to college, I got saved and everything changed for me. One day I was sitting at my desk in my dorm and out of nowhere I could feel the same overwhelming sadness come over me and I almost cried but I stopped and reminded myself that I am new. 

I wasn’t sure what the appropriate response was, but I opened up a New Testament Bible (with Psalms & Proverbs) that was on the desk and randomly flipped it open and I read the first scripture I landed on. It said “Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.” (Psalms 42:11 CEV)

That was the first time in my life that I REALLY believed that God heard and listened to my silent cries because He said to me exactly what I needed to hear in that very dark moment. All I had to do was turn to Him (His Word). 

I’m grateful that God reminds me of that moment from time to time because when life gets difficult some days I can’t help but wonder where God is when I can’t perceive Him. But I’d like to encourage every reader by letting you know that God knows and sees all and He is concerned about you.

  

Intersectionality 

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My Black Facebook friends are raging
My White Facebook friends are silent

I’m constantly torn between feeling like a sell out 

Or possibly appearing violent. 

Being a young college-educated Christian Black girl 

Has to be one of the most complex identities in the world

  

You Have to Try!

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Apparently, I’m pretty flexible compared to other people. I learned this because i tried bikram yoga and the instructor commented on it a couple times. Then when I started crossfit, the first night the coach asked me if I had an athletic background because of my flexibility. He complimented me on it every session for the first two weeks. 
  
I never would have been awakened to that talent if i wasn’t willing to try something.
There is so much in you waiting to be released, but it’s lying dormant because you’re afraid to be adventurous. 
Jesus tells us to come to Him as a child. As a person who has worked with children of all ages I have an interesting understanding of what that means.  One meaning is put this way by Bill Johnson “Embrace the adventure.” Because children haven’t had enough experiences to get bored with life they look at each day as day to discover something new about the world. They approach each day with new questions. They are fully aware that they don’t know everything and that doesn’t bring them a sense of shame. As a result, they’re always in a position to learn something new. 

Your journey with Christ is to be an ever evolving lifelong adventure. Ask questions. Try new different things. Step out into new territory and conquer it. The world is waiting for you discover who you really are. 

  

Perception is just that.

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When I worked at a preschool in Lansing my boss would play the same cd every day. There was a song with a line that I could’ve sworn said “God, you shed Your blood on Calvary.” But I’m fairly certain that the song wasn’t even in English. Even still, that’s all I could hear on that line and it’s because I was filtering the music through my Jesus-music filled mind. 
I can think of countless examples like this where I see or hear things that aren’t really there, but they seem real in my mind because they are associated with something I have an actual memory of that is triggered by what’s really there. 

Is begs the question, is perception really reality?