Five things Friday roundup: Black History Month

— Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

1. Parable of the Sower

Octavia Butler was a giant in the field of science fiction, a genre where Black authors are not always prominent.  She was prolific, and a bestselling novel of hers is called Parable of the Sower. The book’s protagonist is a Black teenager named Lauren, a young woman who can feel the literal pain of others, and in a post-apocalyptic world, she is displaced from her home due to climate change. She founds a religion called Earthseed. The tenets are “God is change,” and Earth’s inhabitants are meant to inhabit other planets, spreading the “seeds of Earth.” This is a fascinating read for lovers of out-of-the-box of science fiction.

2. God is Black

James Cone, one of the early pioneers of liberation theology penned an essay called “God is Black” that is in the book Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies From the Underside. In it, he makes an evocative comment, “The wrath of God is the love of God in regard to the forces opposed to liberation of the oppressed.” Cone exhorts the reader to break off the shackles of White theology (a theology that he states has made it into historically Black churches), and discover that God is a God of liberation.

3. Just a Sister Away

This is a book by famed womanist theologian Renita Weems. In it she points out the sisterhood of marginalized women of the Bible, from Ruth and Naomi to Hagar and Sarai. Weems highlights the times where sisterhood was the defining narrative of the Hebrew scriptures. Since she focuses on the Old Testament, these stories are not always pretty. They can cause us to turn our heads away. Weems urges the reader to hold the hard truth of marginalization in one hand and the beauty of female connection in the other. Out of the most difficult biblical situations, Weems proves that love and connection are “just a sister away.”

4. Born a Crime

This book is a New York Times bestseller by comedian Trevor Noah, who was “born a crime” in South Africa, descending from a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother. Interracial crimes such as his birth were punishable by five years in prison. Kept mostly inside for his early years, Noah found himself in a world that still held the same racism and discrimination as before, even after South Africa’s liberation came — but he also needed to navigate a new reality.

5. @Clarabellecwb

This TikTok content creator combines biting reality with laugh-out-loud humor. Her page is mostly dedicated to flipping the script on White supremacy, centering BIPOC experience as the “norm.” The local high school she refers to is “Nat Turner High.” She talks about making sure to include disadvantaged children from the “outer city.” She calls blonde hair “whacky” and in one case, creates a scene with an imaginary music class exposing them to music from the “cultural other,” which in this case is country music legend Tim McGraw. With her broad strokes, assumptions and pointing out the weaponizing of “good intentions,” Clare makes the point that what our culture views as “normative” excludes experiences and rich cultural history of many people of color.

Joanne Gallardo

Joanne Gallardo is conference minister of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA in Goshen, Indiana. Originally from northwest Ohio, Joanne Read More

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