An Interview with Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee

I am very excited to say that in the August edition of Sojourners Magazine the interview I had with Queen Quet was published! The Gullah/Geechee Nation is a spiritually powerful group and Queen Quet is a beautiful advocate with her people.

“A lot of people don’t know that we exist,” says Queen Quet, referring to her people, the Gullah/Geehee Nation, an indigenous group that spans the coastline from North Carolina to Jacksonville, Fla.

In 2006, Congress passed the Gullah/Geechee Heritage Act to help preserve the living culture of this “nation within a nation.” The Gullah/Geechee, however, continue to fight for their heritage as they battle against environmental racism and climate change. Read more in “‘We Are Not an Island’” (Sojourners, August 2014).

Watch this video as Onleilove Alston, a Sojourners board member, sits down with Queen Quet to discuss the environmental rights of the Gullah/Geechee people.

I am grateful to A Black Tribe and Kendria Smith for shooting and editing the video.

A Caution In Pursuing the Common Good

I hope all is well as we attempt to settle into spring, I wanted to share a reflection I wrote about the notion of the “Common Good”. Be Blessed!

In the Summer of 2008 I interned in Washington, D.C. at Sojourners a progressive Christian advocacy organization that focuses on economic justice, creation care and immigration issues. The founder of Sojourners Rev. Jim Wallis recently released a book on the notion of a “Common Good” and I was invited to read and respond to it earlier this week at the New York City launch. As I was thinking about the notion of a “Common Good” I started to examine if the “common good” would be good for non-white people or if we were taking the common standards, beliefs and customs of white America and making them good for all. In the post below I give a caution for pursuing the “Common Good” which was shared on Huffington Post and Sojourners: Common Good Forum. See the post below:

Social speech bubble,  Cienpies Design / Shutterstock.com

Social speech bubble, Cienpies Design / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I hear the term “common good” I think of Thomas Paine’s infamous pamphlet Common Sense, which challenged the British government and the royal monarchy, but did not challenge the institution of slavery. As an African-American woman I enter the common good conversation cautiously because I know that in our society we have a habit of taking what is good for Western hegemony and making it the standard for everyone else.

As we pursue the common good, let us remember what was once considered common and good during earlier points in American history: chattel slavery, indigenous genocide, and institutionalized sexism. To truly come to a common good, we need to honor a diversity of voices and challenge our assumptions about what is common and what is good. Our default is to take what is good for our culture, gender, or community and make it the common standard for all. I have experienced being invited into organizations that were aiming to do good in the world, but an expectation existed that I would be silent about my unique concerns as an African woman. I know that denying my reality can never be good for my spiritual, physical, or social well being. Read the entire post here

Lenten Reflection: The Most High is Doing Something in the Ruins (Isaiah 61 :1-4)

I know this is late but I still wanted to share this reflection I wrote to encourage anyone who feels like their life, family, dreams or community is in ruins. This reflection was apart of the 40 Days of Prayer Lenten Series that Restoration Church and Metro Hope Church developed, be blessed!

- Public Art in East Harlem Photo by Onleilove Alston

– The Sistas in East Harlem

Sit in silence and read each version of the passage opening your heart to what the spirit wants to communicate to you.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations and renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. – Amplified Bible

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Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) on Religion & Revolution

stokely-carmichael-civil-rights-activist-resigned-as-prime-minister-of-the-black-panther-partyKwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael famous SNCC organizer, Pan-African and firebrand speaks on the role of religion in liberation. A highlight of this speech is that according to the Bible Jesus never stepped foot in Europe so he could have been any color BUT white. Additionally, Ture outlines the many contributions Africa has made to world religions in general and Christianity in particular such as monotheism and the monastery.

Many do not know that Kwame Ture seriously considered becoming a preacher as a teenager. I actually think this calling was fulfilled just outside of the church walls in struggle for African people. May this mighty warrior rest in peace!

Advent: The First Baby Shower Unites Women on the Margins

Polish Black Madonna & Child

Polish Black Madonna & Jesus

On Christmas 2010 I received a great surprise, my reflection on Mary & Elizabeth (in the Gospel of Luke) was posted on NPR’s On Being Blog-this blog is for Krista Trippet’s wonderful Radio show on faith, spirituality and culture. On Being was formerly know as “Speaking of Faith”.  Read the blog below and don’t allow the myths of this season to distract you, take this time to center, reflect on 2012 and prepare for the New Year!

This Advent I am reminded of the meeting Mary had with Elizabeth to announce she was with child. Though this could have been a time of anxiety for Mary, with Elizabeth it became a time of celebration. I playfully call the following account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth the first baby shower:

“Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly, You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed, And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!

And Mary said, I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened — I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home.”
Click to read the entire post

 

 

Life of Pi Inspirational Review

Caution: Spoiler Alert 

Image credit: Peter Sorel

Today I saw Life of Pi (the movie based on Yann Martel’s best-seller) as an Sunday treat to myself. I will try not to give away too much of the movie but I felt led to reflect on the overall message. The main character named Pi (as someone with a weird name I was already on his side, LOL!), is a spiritually curious Indian boy who decides to follow Hinduism, Christianity and Islam in a search for God’s truth.As a child I also looked into many religions of my own accord and through a mandatory extra period of World Religions class required by the “gifted” program I was placed in during Junior High School. I  ordered a Book of Mormon but before it could arrive at my house I discovered what Mormons thought of Black people prior to the 1970’s and ended up throwing it away and writing a Black Power note on the reply card and promptly sending it back to the Mormons (my first Act of Black Liberation Theology). I read some of Siddhartha and found Buddhism attractive not as a religion but as a call to find my own spiritual path.

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Grow Deep Roots in God

Grow deep roots in God and stand firm as your most authentic, loving & courageous self, this is the way to resist the winds that can knock you off divine balance.

Link Love!

My article Romney vs. Reality: A Social Worker’s Perspective has been shared on a couple of great sites and I am so grateful so I wanted to pass on the link love and share some articles I love with you.

I am now a Huffington Post blogger thanks to Rev. Jennifer D. Crumpton  who passed my article on to the editor of Huff Post Religion! She has a great blog on Patheos.

My article was featured on:

Faithful Democrats

Sojourners Emerging Voices Blog

For Harriet (where I remixed the post for Black women): The Economic Myths That Keep Us Chained: Romney’s 47% vs. Reality

Huff Post Religion

Link Love

My cousin’s challenging reflection: Nice Guys Finish Last….

Fat Fem Pinup’s thought provoking post Love: The Myth of Instant Gratification

Black Energy News always comes with practical but deep knowledge here is her most recent post: How to Duplicate Things You Appreciate in a Relationship

LA Liberal Evangelical Examiner ask Whose Religious Experience & Politics

I hope you enjoy these post as much as I did, share and follow these great blogs!

A Great Blessing & A Great Responsibility: Sojourners Emerging Voices Project!

I am humbled and blessed to be apart of Sojourners Emerging Voices Project which is a  initiative that aims to raise the voices of new leaders for faithful justice. I found out about this in the spring but the project was officially launched yesterday. God is hilarious because a few years ago I  complained to friends and God about the lack of women and people of color speaking, leading and writing in the faith-based social justice world. Often when we complain about something that needs to get done God will point back at you and say “why don’t you do it?” In 2007 I was discouraged about the lack of concern for justice I observed in the church, had recently left a really bad church situation and was praying and crying about the gap between my reality and the church. During that time after a fast I learned about Sojourners from a email to Union students inviting us to apply for a scholarship to the Pentecost 2007 Conference (which I thought was a Black Pentecostal Social Justice Conference, one of my girlfriends even thought I was going to meet somebody there, LOL). I attended the conference and found a community of Christians striving for justice nationally but more importantly in NYC. At the conference I met Lisa Sharon Harper (a fellow Emerging Voices member), Rev. Peter Heltzel and Anna Lee Winans all founders of NY Faith & Justice. I returned home fired up to organize people of faith for social justice. A year later I was able to intern at Sojourners as a Beatitudes Society Fellow and began writing for the magazine and blog. I never expected to have these opportunities but God does hear our spoken and unspoken prayers. Those who know me know that I come from very humble circumstances and I was not raised in church, all I have to qualify me for this work is God’s grace and the words of my testimony.

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Proud Black Mary

The Black Madonna can be found thoughout the world especially in Europe, but also in India, America and of course Africa. The Black Madonna represents motherhood, Mother Earth, Life, Death and Lady Wisdom(referred to in the Biblical book of Proverbs). The Black Madonna’s lap represents nurturing which is why many of her depictions show Jesus on her lap. Furthermore, she is a mother to the oppressed, marginalized and the poor which is best shown in the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Sadly many of these Black Momas were buried, hidden in the basements of churches and cathedrals or even “whitened”- ironically when they were whitened many European Christians would demand that she be painted black again. Some say Black Madonnas were blackened by candles burning nearby but some religious scholars attribute this theory to racism. There is proof that many Black Madonnas were created to be Black, but as the transatlantic slave trade picked up the Black Madonna was made in a white image so that European Christians could enslave, rape and dehumanize the Black woman without guilt. Today an interest in the Black Madonna has reemerged and my hope is that this will inspire Black women to look to the Black Madonna as a divine mirror reflecting the dignity, natural beauty, wisdom, love and power that we should display as Black women.

For more information on the Black Madonna read:

Return of the Black Madonna by Rev. Matthew Fox, Ph. D

Interfaith Marian Pilgrimages- The Black Madonna

The Magnificat or Song of Mary Luke 1: 46-55

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