Growing up, my father with African American and Native American descent and my mother with European American and African American descent raised me; mostly my mother raised me, since they divorced when I was five. Nevertheless, both are Christian, so I was raised in the Christian faith. A popular question I often receive as a Christian woman, especially in an environment were there are people of multiple religious affiliations, and of non-religious affiliations, is regarding the mark of white supremacy in Christianity’s history. Why do I identify with a religion that had people who oppressed my descendants of color?
Africa has such a rich background in its culture and tribal religions, but during the time of slavery, the African diaspora had to assimilate to English, Christian dogma, and no longer being free. Native American mysticism and gender fluidity has especially been damaged due to colonialism, assimilation, and exile. During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk burned himself alive because of the horrific acts of Christian oppression. When the British invaded India, proselytizing was an act forced upon its citizens. All of these moments listed and more are needed information to point out, yet it is often ignored when studying Christianity, whether through a devotional lens or a scholarly lens.
I grew up attending traditional white non-denominational churches and traditional black Baptist churches. In both traditional settings, there’s often the need to not question. Do not look at outside sources, because the Bible should be the only text needed for spiritual growth. And the Bible details great proof of diversity, various tribes in various cities, but most churches do not value that part of Scripture. How could I have appreciated Christianity with the disputes over whether Jesus was white or black? How could I have appreciated the faith the pushed love and acceptance when it was shown to me through closeted mindsets?
It wasn’t until college where I grew to appreciate black churches. African Americans have taken Christianity and turned it into their own. Formally an act of persecution, it became an act of celebration and inspiration. African American culture is responsible for the evolution of gospel music and interpretive dance through the worship of Jesus. It has inspired heroes such as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. to improve social conditions. It made me realize the joy and excitement from my culture. I also joined InterVarsity, a Christian campus ministry, and it was originally a predominantly white ministry that later understood the importance of diversity in order to create an open space for multi-ethnicity and Jesus’ teachings and grace. InterVarsity is becoming a place for all racial backgrounds, including white, black, and even mixed-race backgrounds.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ didn’t compartmentalize his identity of being born of a human mother and a godly father, He identified as fully God and fully Man, labels of privilege and lack of privilege.
Despite the amount of openness Christianity has had to offer spiritually and culturally, unfortunately, it is still not seen as an open form of faith. The majority of people in political office right now are Protestant and white, for example. When some white Christians are asked to stand with their brothers and sisters of color for social justice they have the privilege to say “I don’t think God is calling me to that right now.” With the facet of proselytizing, Christians are often viewed as exclusive, another popular view of whiteness.
It wasn’t easy identifying with all of my backgrounds. And it also wasn’t easy to come to terms with them when relating to my faith. However, I am still proud of how the Christian faith calls me to be uncomfortable in order to push for reconciliation in my community, and hopefully my world. Yes, multiracial identity can be seen as a symbol for racial harmony in of itself, but when looking beyond the externalities, being a Christian also helps me strive for reconciliation in our society and to be open to other cultural perspectives.
The Good Samaritan story is a parable Jesus tells of a man of a different race and different religion that helps a man different from him on the side of the road. If that isn’t a symbol of reconciliation in Christianity, I don’t know what else can be stronger than that.
Social media is the most powerful thing we have right now. Nowadays, it is the only way we’re able to obtain information because many of us, especially youth, do not watch the news.
I first heard of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri on Tumblr over a month ago. Since then, I have seen debates about the police department and black men in regards to the police department. There are reblogs, tweets, and likes for the images that stand up for black men, and cry out to those who mindlessly scroll on their phones and laptop how what happened to Michael Brown wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last unless we do something about it.
Social media is fantastic in that retrospect…until it calls us to do something in person.
Tonight, at East Carolina University, there was a panel about Michael Brown. The event has been promoted for a few weeks by Greek Life, Black Student Union, Word of Mouth, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, various staff, the ECU Police Department, the Ethnic Studies department, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, and much more. It was held in Hendrix Theater on campus’ Mendenhall Student Activities Center.
In Hendrix, there are movie events, performances, and even health awareness events that makes the whole room so packed that some would have to stand because all of the seats were taken.
Tonight, from 6:30 PM to 8:45 PM, it was so sparse. I have never felt Hendrix so empty in my whole year and few months being there.
Ranting online is helpful, but when it only promotes activism from the couch and not by human assembly, social media becomes frustrating.
I wish that more people were able to see Word of Mouth’s spoken word on the social commentary regarding Michael Brown. See the intellectual staff and students from Ledonia, Black Student Union, ECU’s Police, and even staff of higher power you’d think wouldn’t show up, express how dialogue must increase between different communities about this issue. See InterVarsity’s campus minister speak up about how the majority must stop being silent.
Something was still accomplished tonight. Despite the fact that there are a lot who still choose to be silent, those who showed up I know aren’t going to be. And this may be just a rant to some people, and some may believe that I’m defeating the whole purpose of what I’m talking about, but I am encouraging whoever is reading this to take action.
Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, and it has always been a way for me to take action. To keep this discussion going, comment if you would like to set up a Google Hangout talk on how else we can take action. Discuss dates and times that work best and stick to the one we choose. We don’t have to just talk about the Michael Brown case, because there are many things that need to be changed in this world. Society can’t run the show forever. The majority can’t run the show forever.
I understand that not everyone who follows me reads everything I blog, but here’s to hoping that that changes for this particular blog.
This a shot towards myself too, by the way.
Imperfection is rife in humanity. But why is the phrase “I am only human” the best excuse for when we do something in a negative light? Whether it’s lying or being lustful toward another individual, for example.
It’s rare when someone is crying and he or she says “I am only human.” Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, said that tears may be a chance for us once in a while to stray from monstrosity. We cannot control how we feel, nor can we control the natural tendency of sobbing or furrowing our eyebrows. However, when it leads to murder, greed, selfishness, or cowardice, “I am only human” seems to be the only reasonable explanation for why there are people like that in the world.
Also, virtually every religion displays the fall of man being the main reason for why humanity is inherently sinful. The fall from Purity, before wrongs ever came into the world. To be honest, that is comforting justification for why we’re “only human.” We weren’t always so bad. It can be okay to cry, shout, or exclaim this universal reason for our flaws.
Those flaws don’t always have to be a sin, either. They can be a stutter, a certain disposition, or an embarrassing memory that makes us original and still pretty great.
Isn’t it ever frustrating to never state “I am only human” when we do good in the world? As said before, we weren’t always so bad.
If only someone said “I am only human” when these things happened:
- participating in charity
- assisting one who fell
- laughing at a hilarious movie; even when some don’t find it so funny
- forming group hugs
- having the urge to give gifts
- going to church for a sense of community
- not going to church for a sense of individuality
- putting on makeup to express yourself
- dressing in a favorite outfit
- playing tag
- staying up all night on the phone in intriguing conversation
- wanting to learn a new task
- elated when finding a new pearl to add to your mental pearls of wisdom
- finding God
- giving substantial advice
- wanting to go out to eat
- saying “I love you”
- working for what you’re passionate for
- listening to music
- snuggling with a stuffed toy
The list can go on and on, I know it. I cannot be the only person who wants that.
Throughout all of humanity’s baneful ideals, there are still imperfections that make us so wonderful. The positivity in our nature makes us beautiful. WE are all wonderful and beautiful!