About Onleilove

A organizer, writer and activist living in Harlem, NY. Originally from East NY Brooklyn I have not only survived but thrived. I am passionate about art, justice, God and Love.

Dark AND Lovely: The Call to Love the Black Woman’s Body

This sermon was preached at St. Lydia’s Dinner Church for the “This is My Body Series”


Prayer for Black Women Who Have Died in Police Custody

Divine creator thank you for this day and this meal, bless all the hands that prepared it from field to plate. Bless each person here and give each woman present a divine revelation that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that her body as it stands now is a gift from you. God of Sarah, Rebecca and Leah we confess to you that we have been silent when the lives of Black woman have been abused by the systems of racism and sexism. We confess that we have diminished the mothers of creation, while worshipping an idol constructed by our biases. Forgive us for not standing up when in July 2015 five Black woman died in Police Custody, we call out their names now:

  • Sandra Bland
  • Kindra Chapman
  • Joyce Curnell
  • Ralkina Jones
  • Raynette Turner

God please comfort the friends and family they left behind and help us as the church to take a bold stance against the societal sins that caused their deaths. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight oh Lord my rock and my redeemer. May your Holy Spirit enter this place. Amen

Scripture Song of Songs 1: 5-6

I am black but beautiful, 
    O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
    because the sun has gazed on me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
    they made me keeper of the vineyards,
    but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you pasture your flock,
    where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who is veiled
    beside the flocks of your companions?

When we think about the Black woman’s body we see even within our scripture translations that there has been an attempt to diminish it’s beauty because most English translations of Song of Songs 1:5-6 will read I am black BUT Beautiful while in the Hebrew the verse can read I am black AND beautiful, the Hebrew word can be translated BUT or AND yet Bible translators due to the implicit bias of racism choose BUT beautiful which is an apology for Black beauty as opposed to I am Black AND Beautiful which is an unapologetic celebration of Blackness. So the scripture should read: 

I am Black AND Lovely
    O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
    because the sun has gazed on me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
    they made me keeper of the vineyards,
    but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you pasture your flock,
    where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who is veiled

    beside the flocks of your companions? 


Since encountering colonial powers the Black woman’s body has not been afforded the respect or curtesy that the White woman’s body has been afforded.   

Pregnant African Women Brenda Hardaway Woman Beaten by Cops in Rochester, NY


 What does it mean that according to research the average Christian in the world today is a woman of African descent and yet in America the average person entering prison for the first time is a Black woman of child bearing age? What does it mean to have prolife Christian activist who are silent when Black pregnant women are beaten by cops? To date there have been multiple incidents of visibly pregnant Black and Latina women who were beaten by cops the most recent being a 8 month pregnant woman who while being hit by the cop was told you better be happy I didn’t make you lose your baby! 

The dark woman’s body is deemed sinful even in our criminal justice system. Villanova University researchers studied more than 12,000 cases of African-American women imprisoned in North Carolina and found that women with lighter skin tones were sentenced to 12% less time behind bars than women with darker skin tones. The study took into account the type of crimes the women committed and each woman’s criminal history to generate apples-to-apples comparisons. 

Data from the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education show that from 2011-2012 , black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12% compared with a rate of just 2% for white girls and more than girls of any race or ethnicity. Researchers say that within minority groups darker-skinned girls are disciplined more harshly than light-skinned ones.

The dark woman’s body is deemed sinful, yet the oldest human remains were of an African woman named Lucy by anthropologist, the mother of humanity is dishonored yet our sacred text tell us to honor our mother that our days maybe long in Exodus. This dishonor and disregard is indeed sinful and yet throughout history Black woman have risen up and declared their beauty and power, the most recent example of this were the three black women that started the Black Lives Matter Movement and Bree Newsome who didn’t just talk about the confederate flag but removed it while reciting scripture and declaring her faith in God! My body and the body of my sisters is indeed beautiful, holy and whole, made in the image of God and as my ancestor Sojourner Truth declared:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Amen!

Questions for Reflection: 

  • Is Dark skin a sin?
  • In what ways do the sins of racism and sexism intersect in our faith communities?
  • How can men be allies to women facing sexism? 

Marching to Zion: My Pilgrimage to Israel  #BlackLivesMatterEverywhere! 

On August 6th I left NYC to travel to Israel for a conference and Holy Land pilgrimage led by a powerful sister named Mahalayah Goodman she wanted Black people from throughout the diaspora to come together to build spiritually during these hard times.

I have always wanted to visit Israel but I also know that the current political situation there is deeply unjust but while many progressive people focus on Palestinians hardly no attention is given to the racism Blacks who live in Israel face from the hands of Israelies and Palestinians. I knew before I went to Israel that I wanted to see how my people lived there, currently there are indigenous Black Palestinians who are unmixed, African immigrants and Black Hebrews who have lived in Israel for over 40 years.

I chose to go to a conference and pilgrimage planned and led by a Black woman living in Israel and our tour guide was a Bedouin man whose family lived in the Judean mountains since they immigrated to Israel in the 1800’s (since Israel has been conquered by various groups since ancient times many of the indigenous people are mixed and many people live there who may not necessarily be from there even if they aren’t White Israelis). We stayed in Tel Arad one of the most diverse towns in Israel and everywhere we went we saw Black folks: Sudanesse, Hausa, Ugandan Jews and of course Ethiopians. Israel is a lot more diverse than people know since technically it’s in Africa, I would suggest viewing the documentary The Northeast African Deception for more information about what Blacks who are indigenous to Israel go through.

On our last day we visited Palestine which is home to the Cities of Jericho and Bethlehem and we learned first hand from Yonise our tour guide what Palestinians and non Whites go through. When we got to Jericho a Black Palestinian boy welcomed us with a big smile and shook our hand, I prayed for his protection and that the injustice he will face from both sides won’t steal his joy.

My group consisted of Brothers and Sisters from various parts of the U.S., London and Israel and we became a spiritual family. We prayed together and honored Mike Brown on the 1-year anniversary of his death during the conference where I closed with presentation on what the Black Woman and her children are facing across the globe we also honored the 5 Black women who died in police custody in July 2015.  Throughout the conference and the week  we discussed strategy and organizing for our people on every level spiritual and politically.

I was also able to get some much needed rest so this was like an extended Sabbath 😉.

We had a powerful time of prayer at the wall of the only temple remains from the period of Solomon in Tel Arad and these remains were discovered by a Black man. As we prayed we wailed for our people. At the river Jordan I remembered my enslaved ancestors who sung of being baptized in the Jordan and  was joined by brothers from the Akan tribe of Ghana who spoke of what would happen to those who enslaved us and talked about the slavery that happened right in Ghana!

Overall this was a life changing trip and I am inspired to uncover the hidden Black presence in Israel!

Check out my photo slide show from my trip:


A Cover Girl in Israel Work Sis!  

 An Indian Family gets Baptized in the Jordan River

The Biblical Role of Women Part I


The Most High’s Role for Women

Originally posted on GRACE in TORAH:

cropped-dreamstimelarge_18739694.jpg © Dunca Daniel

The foundation of this series (Parts I-III) is primarily gleaned from the great insight and study of Dr. Skip Moen and his book Guardian Angel: What you must know about God’s design for women. (Available at skipmoen.com or Amazon.com)

Bereshit or Genesis is irrefutably the foundation for the entire Bible. We would not only expect to find the start or “beginning” of all things, but also God’s original design, purpose, and function for His creation. We often forget that the world as we see it has been in a state of corruption for thousands of years. This of course is due to the fall of man and the ensuing reign of sin and death. But amidst all the chaos, our loving God, from the beginning, has had a plan of redemption in place for us and His creation. His focus is always on RESTORATION.

It is within that…

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Invisible Women

Originally posted on SUM City:

One of the biggest stories to captivate entertainment headlines this year has been the emergence of Lupita Nyong’o. Her Oscar winning performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave catapulted her to the forefront of the public eye. Once there, she has developed almost a second career as the Queen of the Red Carpet, appearing at film festivals looking flawless in stunning gowns that designers are falling over themselves to dress her in. This summer she landed the cover of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful issue. Her Oscar acceptance speech about what defines beauty sparked a wave of affirmation from women around the world who fight daily to be seen as attractive and desirable within themselves when bombarded constantly with a narrow standard of beauty. Lupita is the most recent black female star to explode into pop culture but obviously she isn’t the only one. From Michele Obama to Olivia…

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My Testimony @ The Hope Gathering

In June I was blessed to be invited to share my story at the Hope Gathering Conference which was one of the most diverse Christian conferences I have ever attended. The organizer Suzy Silk did a great job of finding women from diverse backgrounds to speak when other conference organizers claim they cannot find people of color or women to speak. To hear my testimony and the testimonies of all speakers click on the photo below:

Hope Gathering June 2014 Talks


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.

Monday Night Meditation

Originally posted on Walter Bright:


So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ MSG)

Photo Credit: LightStock

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