The Women We Overlook
I wish the parable of the Good Samaritan was about a woman on the side of the road.
It honestly would make a lot more sense to me. ------
It is the legacy of women in our sacred text. Women are raped and dismembered, sold and set aside only to be footnotes in our theology and discourse until their brown sisters refused to ignore them. Our sisters and ancestors resurrected the dignity of women through Womanist Theology. It was only when Jacquelyn Grant, Delores Williams, Renita Weems refused to let another's dismissal be their doctrine or directive that we all began to tell the whole truth.
It is the legacy of women in our common history. In both the historically white evangelical church and the historically black multi-traditional church, women are routinely silenced and pushed to the back again and again. Whether it be ignorance of the breadth of God's call or malicious intent to secure the place of some else, the history of women muffled and chained because of the principality of patriachy rings in our bones. Our ancestral mother Julia A. Foote fought the tide of assumption in the 1800's to preach the good news and our auntie Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was censured by an all male leadership team for daring to take the Gospel to the Grammy's.
It is the legacy that leads us to Breonna Taylor.
Moments ago, the world erupted as traumatic footage of another black man murdered extra-judiciously by white men went viral. The white world yet again pulled on their tired shock t-shirt and foggy dismay glasses at an regular event in the life of the black community. The shock even looked a just a teeny bit less dingy since the white men in question wore no uniform. It is touted now that these worn out and familiar tools of the majority culture led to the arrest of the two white men with weapons in the video.
But we know, we know that accountability is a direct result of the months of faithful persistence led by the family and organized actions by the black community. It is the refusal to back down to the status quo that elevated the story of Ahmaud Arbery to a place where white folx and media couldn't justifying scrolling past.
And yet, as the story of the unjustified execution of 26 year old Breonna Taylor by a police state begins to receive the push and the toil of her community (and we grieve the time passed in our ignorance) the same shock...dawdles.
See, in my experience white Americans do like to center themselves in a story. It's not totally their fault really- generations of white supremacists and the doctrine of American exceptionalism do a number on us all. For white protestant Christians, it is probably even harder. Having been borne in this country as a result of persecution, the presence of any threat seems to prove importance and importance births threat in a blind cycle.
Therefore, I have no doubt that many Americans who read the parable of the Good Samaritan seek to put on the clothes of the Good Samaritan- to see where they can help the hurt, to feign shock and try on dismay. Jesus told it to see where those hearing would see themselves. So goes a parable.
But "Christian" America is not the Good Samaritan to black women. It never was.
Not when the reality of domineering and cruel slaveholding white women is a history we are just now unraveling.
Not when white men once raped regularly for pleasure and history called it love.
Not when a whole field of medical study is birthed of the torture of black female bodies.
Not when our brothers, fathers, boyfriends, cousins and babies are the most incarcerated population in this carceral state.
Not when our babies are the least likely to receive an education worth a dime.
Not when some of us are still begging for churches to stop putting up pictures of white Jesus.
Not when we ain't on your ballot or your conference roster.
Not when we get dialed in for the gospel special selection in Christmas worship sets and posted all over your website but left out of every conversation of power and decision-making at your churches.
No, America. You are the priest- passing by our neighborhoods to raise our property tax two blocks away. You are the Levite- too religious to create affinity or lamenting space for us carrying trauma in our bodies. You are the robbers- stealing our music, our slang, our images for your entertainment and leaving us to rot in our grief and despair on the side of your million dollar sanctuary. You affirm our death when you walk away from our pain.
But, here is what the legacy of women in our tradition teaches me. Black Women changed the church. Black women led the Civil Rights Movement. Black women refused to write out the brown women of the Bible.And it was Black women who raised the horn for Breonna Taylor. It was Brittany Packnett Cunningham that increased the story's reach.
Your desire for justice, your capacity for the work equity will require is measured by your ability to submit to the leadership of a black woman.
"A woman was sleeping, in between shifts of life saving care, when she fell into the hands of the police state. They banged on her door, entered and shot her- eight times in her own bed. Leaving her dead and her boyfriend arrested, unbeknownst to most for months. A progressive Christian happened to see it on his Twitter feed and when he realized what it was, he closed the app unable to hold the real grief of Ahmaud and Sean with that of Breonna. So too, a conservative Christian came to know of it by way of Facebook and scrolled by it, unwilling to believe that more than one act of racist violence happens in a year. But a Black womxn, a fierce lover of God and people, came to know of Breonna as she toiled for a just world. And she mourned for Breonna. She lifted her up in prayer and demanded accountability for those responsible. She poured oil and water by donating for Kenneth's release and telling the good, holy truth of who Breonna was. She brought up Breonna in her own community and to those outside of it. She cared for Breonna by saying her name and refusing to be silent. The next day, she prayed again and emailed and called and told the good truth about who Breonna was. 'Remember her,' she said. I will show you how but remember her by demanding accountability.' " Luke 10:30-35, adapted