Our Mother Who Art In Heaven 

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So the verdict is in, Octavia Spencer is my favorite actor. 

And yes, I used “actor” on purpose even though she’s a woman. (I’m a proud gramma nazi with an English degree. I know how to use words good. 🙃)

Any who, I used a gendered term because it serves my purpose when examining her role, as Papa, in her most recent big screen feature The Shack based on the New York Times Best Seller by the same name. 


I first came in contact with the novel in 2011. I was going through [what my 22 year old self thought was] a very rough season of transition. 

I was unloading to my friend, who’s one of my spiritual mentors, (a lot of people’s salvation can be traced back to sacrifices she made as a Michigan State University undergraduate). My dear sister in Christ, Elon, listened to my concerns. She heard my desperation, confusion and hopelessness.  

At the time, I thought I needed a car and a boo to make my life better. Elon knew I needed a shift in my understanding of God and who He is. She suggested I read The Shack and I did. 

Ever since, I’ve had a recurring picture in my mind of a big Black woman facing the sink singing and dancing to rock music whenever I think of God’s love for me. So when I saw that familiar image on the movie screen, I was again reminded of how God meets us where we are. He meets us where we are to take us where we need to be. 

The Shack is a great depiction of that. The shortened storyline is this. A white man, Mack, has a traumatic childhood. He grows up, marries, has children and has a life altering experience as an adult that made him feel distant from God. One day he goes to the shack and has a supernatural encounter with God, the trinity. 

He meets God the Father, played by Octavia Spencer, who’s affectionately referred to as Papa. He meets Jesus, played by a man who looks to be of Middle Eastern descent. He also meets the Holy Spirit who’s personified as an Asian woman. 


So like the main character, Mack, and probably every other reader I was stunned that God the Father was not just a woman, but a Black woman. 

But then again… why is that shocking? Many of the Black women I know and have heard of collectively consistently embody the characteristics of God. 

This is a powerful image of humility and strength. The woman pictured was not the only descendent of captured Africans who breastfed their masters’ children. It’s a commonly known fact that after slavery Black women could only find jobs that forced them to serve their oppressors. Black women have shown the character of Christ by doing something that is extremely difficult for the proud, serve someone who may never understand who you really are. Jesus died for people who will never acknowledge Him as Lord.
More than likely, even the most ignorant person recognizes the person in this photo. Here’s Rosa Parks. A woman who, like Christ, KNOWINGLY went into a situation that cost her life as she knew it. She, like Christ, was arrested and abused.  Because of her sacrifice and her willingness to be crucified, the course of history was changed forever.  If you haven’t already, meet Ella Baker. Ella was a leader who built leaders who built leaders. Like Christ had disciples who made disciples who make disciples. She is known for leaving a legacy that ensured the generation after her would be equipped to do more work than she did. Like, the Lord did.  

My granny… widowed mother of 8 who raised each of them and their children to understand how love overshadows every hurtful word and every offense and that it is what enables us to press through the hardest times in life. She taught us that life happens and sometimes it hurts, but the happenings and hurts cannot break the bonds of love when it’s pure. Just like Christ’s love for us fueled His ability to be cursed, whipped, spat on and nailed to a cross. 

These Black women in this picture remind me that life should be enjoyed and shared with a core group of people who understand your plight. 
These Black women who have mentored and discipled me. Some of these women’s shoulders have been soaked with my tears. All of their phones have had texts with my questions. All of them have shown me the importance and impact of laying down your own life for the purpose of seeing other people be freed. Like Jesus. 
My fellow Black women, for your resilience, for your healing hands, for your supernatural ability to forgive, for your humility, for your ability to love without expecting, for your ability to give without the expectation of reciprocity, for lying down your life for others, thank you for being a shining tangible example of our Father who art in Heaven. 

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. 

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.

Black Girl Magic

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She rocks her hair

Short and curly

Or long and straight 


Really… she can do it all. 

With her ample lips 

That complement her wide hips

She overcomes every obstacle 

To create, shape and fill her destiny. 

She is aware of her call. 

To birth all of humanity


To her family she brings sanity

She’s the glue of her community

She is why we understand real unity 

She’ll be the reason we are liberated from poverty


She’s so down to earth, but so out of this world at the same time. 

Just like her hair defies gravity,

She defies the odds and it’s truly mind blowing. 

Intersectionality shows her doubly oppressed identity


It’s hard to understand how she could be 

Amongst the most educated social group

With all of her degrees 


And still takes care of family

Most don’t get it

Because they can’t do it. 

You see, she gets her strength from the most high God. 

His strength allows her to do this with ease so it doesn’t look hard.

She’s smart, talented, resilient, and beautiful. 


With all those facets, I get why they call her magical. 



Don’t Scratch The Itch

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I have eczema and I have since I was a kid. It’s not nearly as bad as it was when I was younger, but every now and then I get flare ups.

This morning my upper back was really really itchy. I reached back and felt the patch of bumps. So instead of scratching I left it alone. I already know what would happen otherwise. The relief of scratching those bumps is almost euphoric. BUT it’s the same cycle every time…  Scratch the bumps, get a rash. Get a rash, scratch the rash, it becomes an itchy scar. Scratch the itchy scar, the skin turns dark and really weird but STILL very itchy.


That’s how sin is. Every time you scratch that itch, it feels amazing, but it’s never ever satisfied and the need to satisfy it just gets worse and worse.

I gave my life to Christ in college which is the opposite of what most people tend to do during that period. I’ve had countless conversations with people who said they were gonna start coming to church with me, but they just had to get all that stuff outta their systems. I’m not the type to badger people. (I’m just a seed planter, if you will.) But when I hear that it really just shows how ignorant people are to how sin works.

You can’t just get sin out of your system. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. It’s just like the rash. The more I scratch, the worse the condition gets and the itch intensifies. It ALWAYS feels good immediately after, but it NEVER lasts.

Do yourself a favor, stop scratching the itch.

OhCAE?!

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

  

Ok. Now what?

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There was a pastor was at the Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute (Freedom School national training) this summer. She told a story of when the leaders of the church asked the people in the congregation what they needed.

A homeless man stood up and said he needed a job to which she replied “We will pray for you to get a job.” He responded with “I don’t want your damn prayers. I want a job.”

Kirk Franklin has a song called “First Love.” There’s a line that says “They were quick to pray, but slow to move.”

I think that anecdote and those lyrics sum up my current frustration with Christian people. I feel the need to be a part of community movements especially those that deal with bettering people’s everyday lives so deeply that I literally can’t sleep sometimes because of everything that’s going on surrounding Mike Brown and every other Black victim of police brutality and racism in general.

I turn to Facebook to express myself and talk and some people hit me with “we just need to pray.”

I agree. Let’s pray because racism is a stronghold and a principality. Let’s pray because we need God to be our peace. Let’s pray because we need strength to be active.

I probably lost my amen corner on that last one.

I’m sure some people stayed at home to pray when Joshua and everyone else marched around Jericho.

Moses wouldn’t be all that cool if he had decided he’d done enough by talking to The Lord.

I’m curious if the Gospels would include the story of feeding the 5000 if Jesus had just stood there and prayed for everyone instead of feeding them.

How many people can you name in the New Testament who literally died for acting on what they believe?

To make this clear, I fully acknowledge that these people prayed first before they did the works they are known for. But I’d like to also make THIS clear. After they prayed, they did the work.

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But we wonder why there are so many people who are raised in churches, but grow up to be atheists. Based on observation and conversation they’re tired of waiting on Jesus to intervene.

What they don’t understand is the same thing passive Christians seem to be missing. God gave us the responsibility of doing His work in the earth.

My new favorite song “Do Something” Matthew West

If you don’t feel like listening to the song, here’s the first verse.

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

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What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (‭James‬ ‭2‬:‭14-17‬ NLT)
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Related, but not related: I was listening to a Christian radio station and they played a clip of Max Lucado. He said that non-religious people tend to have longer marriages than Christians. The reason? When they have issues in their marriages, they work on them and fix them. They take responsibility. Christians, on the other hand, pray about the problems and when God doesn’t fix them they say it’s not His will to stay married and give up. Y’all see the correlation or naw? God clearly wants marriages to last and I’m just as convinced that He wants racial tension to end, but we have to work.

We’re waiting on Him. He’s waiting on us.

But OhCAE, imma stop here cuz I’m getting riled up.

Stay tuned for my next post where I discuss some of the responses I got to a question as posed in my Facebook status. “Can a thinking person be a Christian? (or devoted to any organized religion)”
You may or be not be surprised by some people’s reasons for staying with or turning away from religion.