It’s Time To Give Black Women “The Seat of Honor”

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Two days ago I found myself snooping on the facebook page of one of my black female friends. I had not talked to her for a while and I simply wanted to see what she was up to. She seemed to be doing just fine, so I closed my laptop and headed downstairs to grab a snack. I walked over to the kitchen counter and the Holy Spirit decided to interrupt my day, disrupt my false peace, and break my heart.

My mind flashed back to a black woman who took care of me when I was about 4 years old. I don’t remember her face or voice very well. I don’t even recall her name, but I do remember her soul. As the beautiful Maya Angelou said,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The moment I remembered this black woman, I knew that God had something significant to tell me and that I needed to stop and listen. Now, I have never heard God’s voice audibly as some have, but God does speak to me very clearly at times. It is more like random thoughts, that I feel deep within my gut are from Heaven.

God spoke to me,

“Do you remember that black woman that babied you, loved on you and made you feel special at daycare when you were a little girl? She was making a poor salary and giving up time with her babies so your white momma could chase her business dreams.”

In that moment, I lost it and began sobbing. As I stood in the kitchen looking at the stove, I thought about all the meals black women have made for other people. I thought about how they have served white people as slaves, then low-paid servants, and now, in low-paying jobs with insignificant titles. I thought about the statistics of black single moms, raising babies on their own. I thought about how so many of their men and boys are unfairly incarcerated.

I felt the pain. I felt lonely and hopeless, and it made me angry at the injustice of it all. I thought about the three black women who have written on my blog, and remembered that, when they wrote, my stats went down. That made me even more angry.

Why are we not listening to the voices of black women, especially in light of the fact that many of them are educated and experienced women? Why are they having to fight twice as hard as white women to get noticed in both the Church world and the business world? Why do white women get to have nice lives and black women have to strive, strive, strive? Have black women not suffered enough?

Why are so many white women not overcoming their fear or prejudices of black women? Why are so many white Christian women not more aware of our privilege, and why are we not using our privilege to advocate for black women?

I will tell you exactly why. Because we are not paying attention. Because I am not paying attention.

About a week ago, I retweeted information about a Christian conference I want to go to. I was excited because the speaker lineup included both men and women who I know have a heart for gender equality, racial justice, and Jesus.

After I retweeted it, white advocate with #BlackLivesMatter, @CarisAdel tweeted a response that was something like, “Oh the whiteness, it’s blinding…” She was right and I had not even noticed. There was only one black speaker among a group of 15 speakers – a group of speakers that I know is completely FOR the #BlackLivesMatter movement. To make matters worse, that one black speaker was male, so there was not one black female speaker out of 15 speakers!

Now everyone knows black women can preach, so what is the deal? The deal is that we need to wake the heck up and start being intentional! If we believe in this movement of #BlackLivesMatter and also in the Christian feminism movement, then we need to do more than simply tweet about it. Our theories mean nothing if we are unwilling to put our theories to action.

It is time to honor black women in the Church and give them space to use their gifts and education. Black women are bold, smart, funny, and their love for Jesus is contagious. There are treasures within a black woman’s soul that white women and men need. These are our sisters and they are here with us. Black women are not here to be tolerated, but to be embraced.

If you have a blog, invite black women to guest write. If you have a podcast or radio show, ask black women if you can interview them. If you have influence at your church, fight to hire black women, or at least ask them to preach. If you have influence over conference lineups, ask black women to speak.

Listen up, you are not going to find many “well-known” black women to write, preach and speak, because most black women have not been given the chance to become “well-known.” So, let’s be the leaders and help make a black woman “well-known” by giving her the seat of honor at our fancy white tables.

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7 Comments

  • I think we should be careful of placing too much emphasis on what we, white women, can do for black women. We risk compromising black women’s agency if we cross that line.

    I’m not at all accusing you of crossing it, Jory. 🙂 Just sharing a little bit of the hard lessons that I have had to learn with this issue. You are so right to call for intentionality with this. But we should be very careful about how we “leverage our privilege.” We have power, but we aren’t in charge. There’s a huge difference.

    Thanks for writing on this. Might not be as popular, but then, truth often isn’t. 🙂

    • I agree…but if we make the line so fine…white women will be afraid to speak up for black women and avoid it altogether.

      We must allow black women to lead, and then back them up. 🙂

  • Thank you Jory for speaking up on this issue. I have a beautiful 14-year old adopted daughter who happens to have rich chocolate- brown skin. Thanks for helping to ‘make way’ for her!
    “Lord set free the oppressed!”

  • Thank you Jory! I love this message and I love your heart. As a black woman, I so often feel like twice a minority. I think it is hard to feel the difficulty of being black and female unless one embodies both of those beautiful realities. It can be painful. Often your story is ignored by whites because you are black. Then often men (and yes even black men) ignore your story altogether or worse try to tell your story for you. Some brave folks will dare to tackle the topic of white privilege. Some even more daring will tackle male privilege. But it’s straight up warrior status to address them at the same time and recognize that black women deal with them both! Soldier I salute you for your courage!

  • The seat of honor.

    Yes. That’s what you do with privilege. You set a table and you invite other people to sit in the seat of honor and you hand over that heaping extra to folks who know what to do with it. You sit down at the foot of the table and you clap LOUD.

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