The Prophetess Huldah & The Call to Let Idolatry Go! 💕

Shalom Everyone! For my congregation’s Sukkot celebration we started with a day where everyone dressed as a Bible character and so with Esther, Ruth and Deborah taken I decided to dress as the little known Hebrew Prophetess Huldah whose prophetic words to King Josiah helped the entire Kingdom of Judah turn from Idolatry. She was also a scribe and some scholars say she scribed the words of the Shema: “Hear of Israel, The Lord Our God is One.” 


I have recently been reading about Huldah and have found her to be one of the least known but critical heroines of the Hebrew people. Earlier this week my Pastor asked me to deliver a short message and I decided to speak about Huldah and the Call to Let Idolatry Go as we go into a season of many pagan celebrations but also as we all struggle with idols of the heart. 

🌬Check out my message here: The Prophetess Huldah & The Call to Let Idolatry Go! 💕

🙌🏿Invitation: At the end of my message I invited everyone into a time of prayer to repent of any Idolatry in our lives and for the strength to Let Idolatry Go! I invite you to pause and do the same. 🙏🏾

For more information on the Prophetess Huldah check out: Huldah the Prophet Who Wrote Hebrew Scripture


Note I doubt Huldah looked like this but the book is still pretty cool! 😉

Here is a more accurate depiction of the Prophetess Huldah. 👆🏿 

Be Blessed! 💕 

🌬Proverbs 31 & The Eschet Chayil: A Message to the Black Woman🙌🏿👑 

                      Slide by Minister Stella Payton

For Pentecost 2016 aka Shavout I was invited to speak for Women’s Day at Christ Temple Church in Harlem under the leadership of Apostle Bishop Clark. I always appreciate being able to share the Hebraic roots of our faith with Black Christian women and in this sermon I shared about what Proverbs 31 means in the original Hebrew cultural it was written in. 
In Hebrew Virtuous Woman is Eschet Chayil which means Woman of Valor or Woman of War. Dr. Frank Seekins whose work centers around Hebrew word pictures and Minister Stella Payton whose work centers around how women of faith can take the knowledge of being Eschet Chayils to build strong homes and businesses have deeply informed my message. 

To listen to my sermon check out these videos below, the main portion of the sermon is in part 2. Be Blessed! 💕

Eschet Chayil: A Message to the Black Woman Part 1

Eschet Chayil: A Message to the Black Woman Part 2

Eschet Chayil: A Message to the Black Woman Part 3 

At the end of my message I invited my friends from the FPA Foundation forward to share about their work as women who are former foster children that now advocate for foster children and families connected to the system. As some of you may know I spent most of my childhood in foster care and in the future I will be working with the FPA Foundation to form a United Nations Committee on Foster Care. Please check out The FPA Foundation and support their cause! 

Black Women & The Death Penalty

Earlier this year I was apart of a dialogue on the death penalty for Religion & Politics  The Table Dialogue where various faith leaders write responses on a pressing social issue from the perspective of their faith tradition.

Death-Penalty-GettyImages-984627-001-584-x-380-445x290

Never Murder.  –Exodus 20:13 (God’s Word Translation)

As an African American woman who identifies with the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith and who has found a theological home in womanist theology, my religious tradition informs my views of the death penalty in general and as it affects Black women in particular. As a follower of Yahshua (Jesus), the Ten Commandments are still very relevant to my life and shape my ethics. I do not separate the message of the Gospel from the cultural context that Yahshua was born into. In light of this I still observe the Sabbath and when I read in Exodus 20:13 that “we should not murder,” that applies to my brothers and sisters who are incarcerated as well. As a practical womanist theologian who works against mass incarceration’s impact on Black women and girls through the PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign, which works to end mass incarceration and police brutality, I am grieved by how the intersections of racism, sexism and classism collide to send my sisters to death row. Do we see these women?

As a woman I am inspired by the account of the Egyptian enslaved woman Hagar, who after being unjustly cast out of the home of Abraham and Sarah with her son, encounters the “God who sees her” (Genesis 16:13). Like Hagar, African American women in the criminal justice system are usually unseen and unheard, especially those who are on death row. According to academics Harry and Sheila P. Greenlee, “The percentage of women of every race receiving death sentences is less than their percentage in the female population, except for African American and Native American women. The percentage of African American and Native American females receiving death sentences is more than double their percentage of the U.S. female population. Interestingly, this finding is not true for the other women of color.” It should also be noted that Native American women face disparities in the criminal justice system as well, and this reflects the ongoing injustice faced by the general Native American population since the inception of the United States, which prospered due to the stolen land of Native Americans and stolen bodies of Africa. Theologically I believe that sin is not only individual but also social and is embedded into the very fabric of American society. The United States’ original sin is racism, and the death penalty is just another reflection of this sin. Theologically we mustsee the millions of Black women and girls who are abused by the criminal justice system, whose lives end not only in murder on death row but also while in police custody. In July 2015 five Black women died in police custody and their names are:

Sandra Bland

Kindra Chapman

Joyce Curnell

Ralkina Jones

Raynette Turner

I would challenge advocates against the death penalty to expand their work to include advocacy concerning those who die in police custody, because in my opinion this goes hand-in-hand with the death penalty: One is formal, another is informal, but both are murder by our criminal justice system.

As a faith-based organizer I know that what must be done about the death penalty in general, and its impact on Black women in particular, is that we need to get organized. But this organization should be led by African Americans because we are the ones most affected by the injustice of mass incarceration. Ending the death penalty has to be a part of a holistic campaign to reform our broken, profit-driven mass incarceration system. African American women must organize against the death penalty in all its forms—whether it’s a sister sitting on death row for ten years or Sandra Bland who died in police custody. We have to organize with prophetic public actions, standing not for but withwomen on death row, because the most powerful movements are led by those closest to the pain.

We also must organize by withholding our money and our votes. According to the Nielsen Company study entitled “African American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing in 2015,” African American buying power is 1.1 trillion. According to the “Buying Power of Black America” report by Target Market News, “the purchases made by Black women are the single biggest influence on the growth of African American spending.” With this buying power we can begin to boycott those companies that utilize prison labor and those companies that invest in private prisons. According to my colleague Margarida Jorge, national director of the Women’s Equality Center, African American women are the most consistent voters for the Democratic Party. With this voting power, we should demand of all political parties, but especially the Democratic Party, that our support be tied to candidates willing to stand against the death penalty. According to research from Wesley Granberg-Michaelson in his book From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church, the average Christian in the world today is a woman of African ancestry. Black women not only have buck and ballot power; we have the power to influence the Christian church to take on the issue of ending the death penalty. For non-Black women allies the death penalty affects all of us and your voice as an ally is extremely important in supporting a movement to end this sinful practice in our criminal justice system. We all must get organized to build a groundswell that says the death penalty is unacceptable in our society. We all must see those who are on death row because they are our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, friends, and neighbors. It is only when we see the tragedy of a criminal justice system that murders rather than reforms that we will create a society that honors the lives of all.

Onleilove Alston, M.Div., MSW, is a native New Yorker and Executive Director of Faith in NY, an affiliate of the PICO National Network, where she leads A Women’s Theology of Liberation, training women of faith to organize through a gender lens rooted in their faith. She tweets@Wholeness4ALL

Also In
The Discussion

Capital Crime Calls for Capital Punishment

By J. Daryl Charles

The United States Should Abolish the Death Penalty, as Pope Francis Implores

By Joseph A. Fiorenza

For Mormons, a Contested Legacy on Capital Punishment

By Patrick Q. Mason

– See more at: http://religionandpolitics.org/2016/01/19/lets-reform-our-broken-criminal-justice-system/#sthash.tjxLcEFr.dpuf

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

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Women of Virtue Blogtalk Radio Series: Organizing, Black Biblical Destiny & Women of Valor

This morning my cousin Author and Women of Virtue Host Day “Dream” Alston interviewed me for her Women of Virtue Series on Blogtalk Radio. We discuss Prophetic Whirlwind: The Black Biblical Destiny, community organizing and who the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31 really was and what this means for us as women today.

Check out the interview here: Women of Virtue Series

Day's BookCheck out Day “Dream” Alston’s insightful book on relationships: The Not-so-Patiently Waiting Handbook.

 

 

For more information on the true meaning of the Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman visit: http://www.unveiling.org/Articles/women.html.

                                                                  Be Blessed! 

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

Black Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tammy Williams, MSW Founder & Owner of Imena Salon

Imena38Tammy Williams, MSW is the Founder & Owner of Imena Salon in East Harlem. Trained in Social Work & Cosmetology Tammy and her staff  provide holistic haircare to their clients. Imena Salon specializes in natural hair but the staff can do a variety of styles for all textures of hair. Other Imena services include eyebrow shaping, make-up, workshops and events.

While studying at Hunter School of Social Work Tammy researched hair, mental health and Black women, the result of this research is the documentary Beautiful which she produced and directed.

Listen to the interview below for Tammy’s words of wisdom on building a business, natural hair, beauty and mental health. For more information visit: http://www.imenainc.com.

“As a business owner you have to have faith.”-Tammy Williams