I am an African American woman. It’s crazy typing this because I remember a time when I didn’t want to be known as an AFRICAN American, I was just simply black. And then there was a time when I didn’t even want be called black, I was brown.
When you don’t have your identity, things are confusing! If you know my story, you know that I grew up with identity issues – but really, don’t we all. And until we find our true identity in Christ, we will continue to have those issues. Part of what fed into my identity issues was back in elementary school.
I remember being in a class time and I don’t exactly remember what was going on, but a little [white] boy told me, in a very angry voice, “go back to Africa!”. At that time, I didn’t really know much about Africa, except that “Africa is where slaves come from”. So my response to him, trying to protect my feelings, was “I’m not from Africa!”. It was during that time, as a little girl, that I begun to build this wall up against Africa; Africa was an undesired place for me. And unknowingly, I began to create this view on my fellow African Americans – they were undesirable as well.
I only defended my fellow African Americans, and myself, when I heard someone say something negative about us, but truly, I wasn’t trying to identify as such. I remember evening wishing my skin was lighter like some of my other family members, and even some of my friends. My friend group was a mix of cultures, because I’ve always been drawn to cultures, but yet, I didn’t really want to accept my own.
What’s sad, is that I never really appreciated the time my uncle tried to spend with my brother and me, to educate us about black history. I didn’t understand what the big deal was knowing about black history. Writing this makes me angry just thinking about how much “black history isn’t important”, “black people are of no value”, and many other things that devalued black people, was thrown my way, and I received them all and tried to make those be part of who I am.
I grew up not wanting anything to do with Africa. Africa was undesirable to me, until God. As I mentioned above, I struggled with my identity. It wasn’t until I began to seek God, spend time with Him in His word, and allow Him to say who I am, did this struggle flee from me. I began to truly love the me God created; my skin color, my hair texture, my loud mouth, my body type. I stopped wanting my skin to be lighter, but rather LOVED how dark my skin got in the summer.
God took me over to Africa for the first time in 2018, when I went over to Morocco during my DTS (Discipleship Training School). It was in Morocco that He opened my eyes to see just how beautiful Africa is. It was also in Morocco that God changed my perspective about Arabs – because not only was Africans given a bad name in my world, but Arabs were too.
God showed me just how beautiful His creation is – the land and the people. After all, God is the Creator, and He does not create anything outside of perfection. It was then that I was reminded that God created mankind in His own image, and Arabs were also included in this. I didn’t realize how much I had chosen to “shun” them because of what the world was saying about them, and not what God had to say about them.
After touching ground in Africa byway of Morocco, I fell in love and just had to go back. I wanted to go back. I wanted to know more of Africa. And God allowed for me to return in 2019 when I went on a trip to Uganda with the DTS I was staffing at the time. My love for Africa only deepened! It was in Uganda that I believe I truly began to LOVE being an African American woman. Shoot, I was trying to figure out where in African my ancestors came from. Ya girl was was all about being from Africa. God also showed me just how beautiful His people of Africa are as well. He showed me how they worship Him and how happy they are with the little they have. I remember thinking just how much we as Americans complain about not having the newest sneaker, yet many of the people we saw in Africa were happy with the one pair of sandals they had on their feet. It was a visual reminder of what God’s word says:
…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.Philippians 4: 11-13, NIV (EMPHASIS ADDED)
I’m beginning to ramble a bit, and I know that, but I just want you to understand, that I was wrong in my thinking because of what was “poured out upon me” for so long. And I’m not saying that it was just the white people around me that would pour out the hatred towards my kind, but there were also some of my fellow people of color who tried to avoid our own kind. We didn’t want to be identified with our fellow POCs because of what the world was saying about us. And it wasn’t until my perspective was changed, not only about myself, but others who aren’t quite like myself. I think it is so important to check your perspective on things from time to time – not just about yourself, but also about others. I can say so much here, but I’ll let that one sit.
As I mentioned before, I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT ME! I love being a black woman, an African American woman. Yes, I have to fight a little harder to get further because I’m a woman, and I’m black, but I am a fighter! Why wouldn’t I be? My God promised to be right there with me, always!
I love having grown up in a black family. Where fish fries and cookouts were a big thing. Yes, we LOVE us some fried chicken, watermelon, mac & cheese, corn bread – WHEW LAWD LET ME STOP! I grew up in a house where loud music was always played – can I get some of that Earth, Wind, & Fire though? I love how big my family always has been – I mean, you know, the aunties and uncles that you meet, but later find out that weren’t blood related but really just love related. “Get togethers” always turned into mini parties – grown folks playing them bones (that’s dominoes for those of you who may not know), or playing spades. My hair STAYED in braids – giiirrlll, my mama was not trying to deal with my hair, I get it. Wow, I really love my “blackness”.
I am BLACK. I am WOMAN. I am BEAUTIFUL. I am PROUD. I am INTELLIGENT. I am RESILIENT. I am LOVE. I am INNOVATIVE. I am POWERFUL. I am INFLUENTIAL. I am EXPRESSIVE. I am UNAPOLOGETIC.
I have seen God use every part of who I am in so many ways, and I love it. My loud mouth is what was heard while in UGANDA, and things were getting chaotic and uncomfortable for the team. I remember loudly telling the group to stand behind those of us in front, and to pray. There are many other things I can go on to share about how God has use the me He created, to reach His lost. I am unashamed of being black. I too was created in the image of God.