“Mommy, if Jesus lived in the place where people have brown skin, why does he always look white in the pictures from my Bible?”
This observation from a very insightful ten year-old caught me off guard during a morning Bible devotion as we got our school day started late last week. For the past few days, we had been trekking through 2 Chronicles and hearing the account of Solomon’s temple when my daughter chimed in to the conversation with this telling question.
It wasn’t long before an interesting conversation was underway in which I attempted to give an age appropriate summary of the centuries’ long history of pride, racism and White Supremacy all before continuing with the rest of our day’s studies.
Ever since that Thursday morning discussion, my daughter’s very innocent yet strikingly poignant question has rattled around in my brain. Hence the reason for the writing of this post.
What does it look like to break the heart of a ten year-old girl who is ready to receive a world that most likely will never fully receive her back?
As my children and I have gone through the Middle Ages and beyond in this school year’s History studies, a piece of me in the lower recesses of my mind has been full of angst for the time in which we will have to tackle slavery. It is still several weeks away and I’ve been prayerful about how to broach this travesty of injustice and the black eye (no pun intended) to the collective face of humanity.
For over 500 years, this world has failed the black and brown residents who call it home. And the thought of having to possibly hurt my beautiful brown babies in any way by giving them the honest truth sometimes feels too great a burden to bear.
This fall, a video was circulating on my social media timeline titled something to the effect of “The Talk“. It got a ton of buzz as it was a reenactment of the supposed conversation every black parent must have with his or her child regarding life saving etiquette when encountering law enforcement.
Though we are some years away from even giving our kids their first driving lesson, this anticipation of this much dreaded conversation still runs through my head.
It would seem that in this fallen world of pain, fear-mongering and distrust between races, how could any one ever feel an inkling of hope?
This notion may seem too simple yet, I dare ponder upon the sweet words of the hymnist when he pinned these very words:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But holly lean on Jesus’ name
Its my only consolation.
My end game.
How else could I grapple with the sheer evil seen through the eyes of racism and White Supremacy when they rear their ugly heads?
There is however, one more way in which I personally believe Jesus has equipped me to fight back the darkness of this sin sickness.
Believe it or not (and you can call me corny), but I whole heartedly believe it is through the gift of my pen.
When breaking down what racism and White Supremacy really are, a person could get lost going down the rabbit trail of the social constructs sociologists have theorized about for years. Granted, I’m not knocking them, I minored in Sociology in undergrad. But when its all boiled down, one must return to the beginning…the beginning of everything.
I am a believer in the Bible, the inspired and actual words of God. In Genesis, the Bible teaches that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created all that lives and dwells and breathes there too, people included. And within these people, God chose to place His image or for all you Latin lovers, “Imago Dei” (see Genesis 1:27).
Imago Dei is not just a fancy word Christians like to throw around to impress the nearest hearer. Rather, its a definitively priceless jewel to embrace and recognize as something of the highest honor only given to this select portion of God’s creation, ie. humans.
From the very beginning, people were and STILL are created in God’s image. We aren’t walking around as little “gods” with a lower case g. Rather, we have been given the privilege to be made in God’s likeness; we have autonomy. We possess the ability to experience and express attributes like love, kindness, emotion and so on just like our Heavenly Creator. In a nutshell, we have dignity.
Now, when you take the fallen notion of racism and White Supremacy, it always seeks to rob other human beings, particularly black and brown folks of this very gift.
Knowing this, I feel compelled even called to fight this affront to God’s creative intentions with such a ferocity, I can’t even contain it!
I believe, among other things, I have been called to be a restorer of the dignity that has been sullied through the effects of racism.
Five years ago, I first felt this twinge in my gut when my oldest was in kindergarten. I was looking for good, biblically based kindergarten level worship songs that also featured an African American expression of worship. I searched and searched yet was left disappointed.
I either found cutesy, kid friendly worship songs that didn’t reflect my own cultural heritage or I found beautiful kindergarten-esque books featuring black and brown characters with no kind of acknowledgement of my desire to worship my great God. I was stuck feeling pretty frustrated.
Then, it occurred to me, why don’t I write my own worship songs?
Now, I’m no songstress but catch me at a red light with my favorite jam and I gets down! 😉
I quickly realized my hypothetical audience would not appreciate my joyful noise!
But I figured something better, why don’t I write a children’s book about a family’s love for God but from the African American experience?
And out of this, I wrote my first book (it still remains unpublished but with hopes to one day make it on a book shelf near you).
From this was birthed a love for writing.
Before I knew it, I had written three children’s books, all because I wanted my beautiful brown babies to see themselves reflected in good literature that didn’t necessarily highlight a slave girl’s victory over her oppressors or another blow to the Civil Right’s Movement.
These kinds of books surely have their place and I love and own quite a few of them. Shoot, one day I may even write one.
But…I wanted more for my children.
Why couldn’t they too be the hero or heroine to their own story? Why couldn’t they too enjoy a lively adventure doing what kids of all shades do? Why couldn’t they simply see themselves and people like them in the pages of their books?
In 2018, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and move towards my goal of self publishing my first children’s book!
I’m so thrilled and humbled by the great honor to soon become an author and fill the homes of countless children and families of all colors with stories that celebrate all that is black and brown while restoring dignity one child at a time.
The beauty of my stories is not that they are only for African American, African, Caribbean or Afro Latino children. No, they go beyond the variety of shades of caramel to mocha.
A Caucasian child can read my stories and see his classmate, an Asian child can read my stories and think of his teammate, a Spanish speaking child can read my stories and retell them to her friend at church. More than that, the stories I write can be a fuller reflection of all the beauty God has already given when for the first time in history, He stepped into time and space and spoke the words, “Let us create man in own own image” (Genesis 1:26).
So my friends, I invite you along for the ride because later this year, The Rumble Hunters are coming!
(I must shout out my phenomenal illustrator Nazar Horokhivskyi and his creative genius! He is the one who is responsible for bringing The Rumble Hunters to life and I would be lost without him!! Thank you Nazar!)