The Millennial Womanism Project (TMWP) Presents “Millennial Womanists To Watch”
A monthly profile highlighting emerging voices doing incredible work in ministry, the academy and in social justice work.
Name: EbonyJanice Moore
City: Charlotte, North Carolina
TMWP: What does it mean to be a millennial woman of African descent in ministry?
EbonyJanice Moore: I believe African Spirituality is the foundation of my entire southern black Christian experience. My religious/spiritual truth systems and practices are informed, then, by my blackness. I would say this – so much so to the point that – in many ways, I have defined my blackness as a major function of my religious expression. “I praise.” “I worship.” “I black.” I believe all of these actions bring glory to God.
The story of my salvation involves my grandmother interpreting a dream and vision I had at age 12 on a random Saturday morning. The story of my calling into ministry involves the elders and the community speaking a thing over my life, essentially naming me. The story of both my leaving and coming back to Christ involves a 10 week trip to Nyahururu, Kenya to do missions work where I questioned the personhood of Christ for the first time in my entire life. I’m giving these few examples to show that the intricate details of how my journey with Christ and into ministry both have very decidedly black/African symbolisms/relationships. With that in mind, my entire preachment centers black folk, (black women) in particular.
TMWP: Tell us about your work. What inspired you to do this work?
EbonyJanice Moore: I was thinking about the different waves of womanism after reading Dr. Monica Coleman’s Ain’t I A Womanist, Too? (my jam) and began to consider how “other” my own theology felt compared to my contemporaries in seminary at the time. There were many brilliant theologians around me, but for the most part, they all saw their ministry as “for the church” (meaning they would become Pastors or live into a more traditional role in the “church community.”) I saw my ministry as “for the church” but also for my peers who love God but could take or leave the church. I realized that the language of my ministry, before I even clearly identified that what I was doing was ministry – has always been hip hop.
I started doing these #PreachEb videos because an Andre3000 lyric literally ministered to my soul after a bad breakup. “Keep your heart 3 stacks. Keep your heart. These (boys) is smart. Play yo part.” – (Proverbs 4:23) “Above ALL else guard your heart for it is the source of life.” When I tell you that thing preached me into an attitude… I was like the Webay “Realized” meme. LOL! I didn’t interpret that in a way that would keep me from ever loving again. I interpreted that as; “You can not just be out here in these streets laying your heart bare for any and everyone that has strung some nice words together girl… Be mindful of these things. These boys is smart. Play your part. Thus says the Lord of hosts and Elder Andre 3000.” And from that point I started remembering all these other lyrics and interviews with my favorite hip hop artists spitting knowledge and thought, “What wisdom/lessons have we been missing because we assumed hip hop didn’t have anything holy to offer?” Now I am on a mission to find the wisdom and share that wisdom.
(1) What is the ethical responsibility involved in including hip hop in a discussion of who is worthy (of evangelism, Christ, relationship, consideration, etc.)?
(2) I am arguing that hip hop lyrics have the kind of wisdom that should be considered sacred text and the inability to see that or hear that is willful ignorance, in my opinion. “Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?” – JayZ
Further, I am doing both ethnographic work and exegeting the text (lyrics) to find and share the wisdom.
(3) I am troubling our Biblical heroes in the same ways that we trouble hip hop artists (because weren’t they men with flesh like ours?) This, as a way to have womanist conversations about how the text marginalizes whole groups of people and asserting that it will take us being honest about this marginalization to get to the healing that this truth system owes us and is offering us, in Christ.
(4) Finally, I am using these discussions to construct “church” in a digital space in a way that feels inline with my mission to share God by dealing with the spirit/soul of Hip Hop (because we rarely deal with the spirit/soul of this powerful culture).
TMWP: How does your work expand traditional womanist epistemologies?
EbonyJanice Moore: Listen, I don’t even exist without the work of Dr. Emilie M. Townes instructing us on imagination or Dr. Delores Williams’ consideration of black women’s bodies and the earth being used for labor, production, and reproduction. And specifically, as a Hip Hop womanist, I’m clearly a student of Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman – just over here getting free as a Baptist girl citing contemporary voices as often as I can because the politics of black women’s work in a citation is one of my favorite games to play!
I think that one thing I am doing to add to these discussions is that my work is putting emphasis on Hip Hop as a sacred text and a source of wisdom that we should look to, not only for our spiritual growth, but also for how we do ministry as black|women|theologians and as activists. I am certain that Hip Hop houses our freedom song, and it is our responsibility as Millennial Womanists to continue to simultaneously challenge the institution of the Church and the institution of Hip Hop – because these products of our culture belong to us as much as they belong to the men who are predominately centered in these discussions.
TMWP: What can we expect from you within the next year?
EbonyJanice Moore: (insert heavy sigh here)
I have to (heavy sigh) because there is so much going on in these EbonyJanice streets right now. I am the founder of a multi-city/multi-platform lecture series called “Black Girl Mixtape.” The intention of Black Girl Mixtape is to amplify and celebrate the voices of black women as authority. We are currently on an 8-city tour that started in Houston, Texas and ends in Accra, Ghana in December 2018. In the next year, I believe we will be doubling our cities, starting chapters in the spaces we have already been, and offering classes through BGM Institute – which is an academic platform launching Fall 2018 with the intentions to make this learning, that we have been so privileged to have access to, more accessible. This is literally a whole conversation for another day. LOL! But, this is where I’ll be and what I will be doing in the next year. More black girl things, more God things, more *hoodrat things with my friends, more hip hop discussions, and more learning and growing in community with other black women.
* “Hoodrat things with my friends” is a pop culture reference – a joke. I promised my mother and my God that I would not be doing any hoodrat things at this stage in my life (publicly) if the Holy Ghost continues to see fit to help me.
TMWP: How can people support your work?
EbonyJanice Moore: Thank you for asking. Right now Black Girl Mixtape is raising funds to continue growing this work. We are the only LIVE Lecture series platform centering black women and the only LIVE Lecture series that offers an honorarium to all participants on its LIVE stage. We do this because it is part of our ethics to compensate black women for their work, no matter what. Having said that, I would be so honored if you would (1) Donate at www.gofundme.com/blackgirlmixtapetour (2) Share this link with your networks and add a personal message to your post that might make your people more inclined to listen (3) Send us your love and prayers.
TMWP: Where can they go for more information and updates?
Listen to my podcast on iTunes: (search) “Rap Theology” or on SoundCloud at www.soundcloud.com/rapTheology
Search the #PreachEb hashtag on IG or Facebook to see some of my work translating hip hop lyrics to scripture. At the very least, you will be entertained. But, I think there’s something to be said for finding wisdom in these spaces.