I am Centered. I am Unapologetic.
In due season, I praise God for everything I never got. I am not, by nature, given first to gratitude, though I am deeply, profoundly grateful. I am by nature “…of a few days and full of trouble.”
First of all, I conformed, or so I tried. I sat quietly, or I tried to. I shrugged on patience; it didn’t fit. I was not ready for the christening benediction over who I was and where I’d enter until I arrived at myself, at my right definition, in the words of Nikki Giovanni, from the poem, ego-tripping.
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises, All praises,
I am the one who would save
Imago Dei. I am. You are.
I am Centered. I am Unapologetic.
I waited for you to define me, America.
Foolish girl, she never cared who you were.
For 400 years, America tried to bury me, her darker child. She did not understand I was a seed. Seeds never surrender their yield without violence. They must be buried. They must cease to be what they were, dying to their previous form. While they do not grow up to be that which was planted, the essence of what they once were always remains. As a result, I made my own American Dream.
James Baldwin, in his speech, “The American Dream and the American Negro,” said, “It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6, or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you.”
I gave up the desire I held for America to define me. Thank you, ma’am, for benign neglect that made me strong. The American Dream I defined for myself is so much better. Therein, I am Centered. I am Unapologetic.
I waited for you to define me, American Christian church.
Silly child, it did, and you won’t fit where they placed you.
The American Church is currently a house divided against itself. You know The Word; that’s not a good look. Thank you, American Church, for forcing me out into my own wilderness. Jesus spent time there, too. I’m in Good Company.
As a PK (preacher’s kid) and a product of the National Baptist Convention USA, a historically African-American denomination with a legacy reaching back to 1860, I envisioned myself a “white glove Christian.” My definition, offered in love and without ridicule, is that white glove Christians” are soft, unfailingly polite, quiet and subtle. Theirs is the gift of gentleness. I believed my mother was one; I was delightfully wrong. I thought certain my grandmother was; that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Our family tree offers a different, bolder fruit.
Capable of great gentleness, we are equally inclined to big, bold, and brash. We desire quietude, but do not suffer fools and their foolishness gladly. We spring from a different source: We are Intersectional.
Merriam-Webster defines Intersectionality as “the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”
I thought that Intersectionality would be a burden. I was wrong; it is a superpower.
I am Centered. In a world seeking to marginalize and diminish my capacity, my value, and my opportunities as a result of my gender, my age, or my race, I center myself. Anchored by my place at the center of Father, Mother, God’s Perfect Will for my imperfect life, I am Unapologetic. Why? How? Because I am now, as I have been since before the beginning of time, the precise Imago Dei Father, Mother, God intended me to be.
Keep your white gloves.
My race, ethnicity, and culture shape and inform my perspective, not to the exclusion of other people, places, or things, but as the lens through which I experience my world. The world where I am centered, without apology.
When that rapidly changing world began jeopardizing both my Peace and the lives of people who were, or could be me and mine, it was time to strap on the whole armor and prepare for spiritual warfare. Bravely living while Black in America, where it seems we are always reminded we do not belong, we are not worthy, we do not have a valid stake, my comfortable lens is under siege. I can’t breathe. I cannot outrun your bullets. I can no longer go slow. I shall NOT be denied.
A 2017 analysis on the state of the economy and of racial relations in America conducted by The Nation, concludes that “the politics of the future is the politics of race.” So much for sitting on the sidelines.
“Jesus is one of the biggest agitators that ever lived,” says Christian Activist Bree Newsome. “The only time Jesus was in the temple was when he’s flipping stuff over and stirring things up.” Reading the account of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate, indicted for inciting riot, destabilizing the economy and attempting to overthrow the Roman government, I was reminded that Jesus was a Revolutionary.
Imago Dei. I am. You are.
Ignore me, please. Assume that I will sit silently by, awaiting your attention, your affection, your respect. Neglect can be powerful motivation. It can teach resiliance, tenacity; it will force you to acknowledge your gifts. Trust me. I am clear.
Faith Centered. Unapologeticly African. Perfectly Clear. Either we are for righteousness and Grace, or we are cowardly, and we lie. Anchored by my place at the center of Father, Mother, God’s Perfect Will for my imperfect life, I am assured that this is my calling…and I have peace. My intersectionality lays upon me a legacy of resilience no one should underestimate. Whereas the world and those who would come against me warn that we should fear them as the storms in our lives, I quietly reply My I AM (and therefore I) am the storm.
I am a very serious person, so I laugh a lot. I write because it helps me understand the way I feel about the world. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we made two exceptional people and raised a dog so remarkable, I wrote a book about the faith lessons he taught me. I envision a world where each of us embraces the Perfect, Precise Image of God that we are, naturally, at every given moment, even as each of us exists in a liminal state.
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