well, it’s been a year! in fact, it’s been a crazy year – a year for many people of color, being confronted by lamentable tragedies and injustices in both personal life and on their screens – almost on the daily! so, when january 1, 2015 rolled around, i told myself that my resolution and protest this year would be to ONLY read things by women of color. women. of color. only. all year. meaning, every book/article/blog post i read this year were by women of color.
how hard could that be?! okay…there were a few exceptions:
- i had to read my husband’s manuscript draft before he sent it off to the editor. it’s a book on race, he’s my boo, and it’s BRILLIANT! so, he got a pass.
- the bible. i actually thought about only reading jesus’ quotes… well…cuz it’s jesus. but, recognizing that i love psalms too much and the fact that i’m on the preaching rotation here at work makes it hard to pick and choose. and, because it’s the bible, it too got a pass.
- articles online are hard to navigate whether the author’s ethnicity correlates to their name. most often, it doesn’t. so, if the article seemed like a “must read” and it was a female sounding name, i read it and they got a pass.
- i did read excerpts of jennifer harvey’s book “dear white christians.” it was goooood! it’s a book on race and reparations so she got a pass.
- and, finally, i do admit that i read most of brené brown’s new book “rising strong.” some of you know that i had a difficult few months this year that totally took me for an unexpected spin. i needed these words to get myself back up, so she got a pass.
other than those 5 exceptions, it’s been a year of filling my mind, thoughts, imagination, and creativity with female authors of color. it’s amazing how difficult it is to only consume words by women, much less, women of color! have you tried? have you ever tried preparing sermons with only commentaries/resources by women of color? have you ever opened a news article or commentary and trained yourself to first look who the author was and then have the discipline to close it if necessary? have you ever had a student ask you to read their seminary paper for them and you tell them you can’t because they’re white or a man? have you ever had a brand new book sitting on your table that everyone was talking about by ta nehisi coates, and couldn’t read it?
well, amidst some surely frustrating moments, i find myself at the end of the year now struggling to allow this protest to end. i have read books and articles by people i may never have heard about otherwise. i have felt empowered by these women’s voices. i have even experienced a righteous anger arise realizing how rarely we allow women to speak into our lives. if you look, you can find them. but, we’re often too lazy to look! how often do we only quote men in our sermons or read books, articles, blogs by white folks? who’s informing our knowledge? who do we think has authority on particular topics?
i sit here today, grateful for this protest. i’m a richer and wiser woman because of it. i’m especially thankful for all the sisters out there hustlin’ and living into your gifts and calling like a BEAST! i see you.
for this new year, 2016, i think i’ll expand my protest/resolution a bit and commit to only reading things written by people of color – men and women.
all that to say, to my white brothers and sisters, don’t be offended if i can’t read your stuff right away. i’ll get to it eventually…like 2017.
**a few of the good books i’ve read this year:
- citizen by claudia rankine
- sister outsider by audre lorde
- ferguson & faith by leah gunning francis
- daughters of thunder – a collection of black women preachers and their sermons, by betty collier-brown
- the next worship by sandra van opstal
- finished reading my beloved world by sonia sotomayor
- read excerpts of god help the child by toni morrison
- read excerpts of roadmap to reconciliation by brenda salter-mcneil