Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States: “We, the people.” It’s a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that “We, the people.”
– Rep. Barbara Jordan, Statement on the Articles of Impeachment (1974). Speech presented at House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C.
It wasn’t until I felt the wetness of my face that I realized I’d been moved to tears. Watching Barbara Jordan’s 1974 address of the House Judiciary Committee brought about an undeniable epiphany: I was created to resist. It is an epiphany that causes me to swell both with pride and pain of the overwhelming connotation of this reality.
I do not believe it is by accident that Jordan, a Black woman, took center stage to lead the resistance of the Nixon administration’s destruction of the U.S. Constitution. As my generation embraces our own role model of resistance in the hallowed halls of the congressional chamber, the formidable Auntie Maxine Waters, I am again reminded of the purpose for which I was birthed.
As Jordan beautifully states, we have finally been included in ‘We, the people’ and as such, we refuse to sit idly as a spectator to ‘the diminution, subversion, and destruction’ of our humanity. It is our predestinate purpose; a purpose that has shown itself time and again throughout history. From the Black women who led us to freedom from enslavement to the 94% of Black women who attempted to rescue this country from the tyrannical presidency of Tr**p. We were born to resist all forms of oppression. We innately do work, both formal and informal, with equality and protection in mind for all – in spite of the constant rejection and dereliction by the “all.”
I wept listening to the sonorous intonation of Jordan’s speech. One so clearly tinged by the charismatic preaching traditions of the Black Church, harkening memories of my late Father as a Black preacher. The intense diction of her oration bringing to mind my Mama’s reading of scripture. The triumvirate influence of faith, family, and community evident in Jordan’s work is the same reason why I do the work of faith based advocacy: the irrevocable belief that I’m created to resist and that my faith is to be used as a tool of liberation from all systemic equalities that marginalize “the other.”
“Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.”
While we’ve culturally humorized it, as a Millennial Womanist, the task before us is indeed a big one that requires an abandonment of #TeamPetty. As a faith based social advocate, I am demanding change from an institution that is often slow to hear and even slower to act. I unapologetically center the needs and demands of Black women in this work. We make up the majority of church congregations and serve at near-tokenism levels in the ministerial staff. We are the heart, soul, and backbone of congregations that unflinchingly saddle us with misogynoir and sexism. Many of us are both Black and Queer, making our experience in sacred spaces that much more fraught with –isms that narrow the entryway of Divine access.
My work as the voice of millennial faith through my platform as The Unfit Christian is to inspire people to believe that there is room at the table (and subsequently the cross) for all of us, no matter how radically different our approach to God. As such, my work demands justice by challenging Faith Leaders and adherents to remove the obstructions that have excluded many from corporate access to God. This includes challenging racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and other marginalization that occurs in our sanctuaries and pulpits.
In my own effort to make way for corporate access to God, my voice is deliberate in its pedestrian approach. While I have been formally educated in both African American Studies (BA) and Public Policy (MPP), I wholly believe that knowledge that is inaccessible to all is not knowledge at all. I believe that to truly impact and bring the changes that my work hopes to do, it must be presented in a way that can be understood by most. My voice is unmistakably rooted in Womanist theology, yet I believe that transformative justice is just as powerful in 140 characters as it is from a lectern or pulpit.
After all, it only took 140 characters to send three of my works viral in the last year; three works that sought to deconstruct misogynoir, racism, sexism, and classism both within and beyond the church. It was 140 characters that brought people into larger conversations about what it means to exist at the intersection of race, gender, and religious identity in our present society. Whether it reaches one or one thousand, this is the work for which I’ve been designed.
“We know the question. We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question.”
We often roll around the existentialist query about the purpose of our lives. The reception of my work evidences, to me, that we indeed know the questions. In accordance with the Jeremiah 29:11 plan for my life, I work to enable us to bravely vocalize and answer these questions honestly. Like Jordan before me, I am here today as an inquisitor. My faith in transformative justice is whole; it is complete; it is total. I was created to resist and that is what I will continue to do.