What in the World is a "Woke Christian"?
My tagline is "Christian. Black. Woke." Naturally, I get a lot of questions about what it means to be a Woke Christian.
A Little About Me
I was raised by a proudly Afrocentric Afro Cuban mother. The preparatory academy I attended for preschool sang the Black national anthem Life Every Voice and Sing every morning. I grew up wearing headwraps and attending drummings. One of my mother's favorite hangouts was the now-closed Black bookstore, Afro-In Books & Things. My paternal grandparents are true African American southerners to the core.
When I was in high school, I was introduced to a book by an Afrocentric author named Anthony T. Browder. His book, From the Browder File, included essays discussing what Browder asserted were hidden truths about African and African American history. I devoured the book in three days and went back to the book store to find more. I would go on to study Francis Cress Welsing's The Isis Papers, Ivan Van Sertima's They Came Before Columbus, Know Thyself by Na'im Akbar, George James' Stolen Legacy, and many others.
A Common Theme
These books filled me with both anger and pride. I was angry because I had experienced racism first-hand. I was angry because I had been a disciplined student and hadn't learned a fraction of what these books were teaching me when I was in school. Why would they steal our history, appropriate it for themselves, and tell us we were nothing? I was filled with pride as well because I finally understood what my mother had been trying to instill in me. The greatness of the people from which I descended.
In addition to affording me these emotions, these books had a common theme: a disdain for Christianity as what they asserted was a counterfeit of an ancient Egyptian or Kemetic deity named Heru or Horus. Browder's book had images of what he purported was the original Virgin Mary and Child and Egyptian Trinity - all Black.
Naturally, I left Christianity because it was the "white man's religion."
As the result of a spiritual encounter some time later, I gave my life to Christ. Having been raised in Catholicism and Yoruba, no one could ever tell me spirits weren't real. Spiritual manifestations had been a part of ordinary life for me as a child. So when I had my Road to Damascus experience, I had to submit to the Spirit of the One True Living God.
I began to dig deeper into what the Afrocentric authors like Browder were offering as evidence of the falsity of the Spirit I was now following. I discovered that much of what they had by way of evidence was limited to opinion and not based on primary sources, other than statues they claimed Christianity copied. When I tried to verify the claim that Horus had 12 disciples or was resurrected after the third day by looking for such statements in the original texts, my search turned up empty. They were not there. These were made up correlations. I had already known that Isis was not a virgin because I had studied the story prior.
On Being Woke
Being "woke" is supposed to mean being conscious or aware of the many tools employed to oppress people of color. This includes a variety of societal agendas, including but not limited to the school to prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex, the FBI's Counterintelligence Program, forced sterilization of people of color, disenfranchisement, inequity in education, lack of access to medical treatment, poor food quality, social programming by way of entertainment, and the list goes on.
These are systemic realities in our society.
The issue when it comes to being woke these days is that people have made an aversion to Christianity the litmus test as to whether one is truly aware. It is as though hating Jesus and thinking His name means "Hail Zeus" is the sine qua non of wokeness. I beg to differ.
Does the knowledge I have of these systemic tools of oppression somehow evaporate into thin air because I am a Christian? People often say, "If you really knew your history, you wouldn't be a Christian." These people are of course alluding to the false narrative that Christianity is a fabrication, copied and stolen from the ancient people of Africa, re-branded and whitewashed, and used to oppress and enslave Africans.
Individuals who believe this have not conducted the investigation required to see whether this is true or not. They, like I once had, take the words of Browder for granted. They assume that because he's Black and he's been to Africa, and has written a book, that he knows what he's talking about. I now know that Browder and the others got this one wrong.
Nevertheless, I continue to have a passion for Black history. I continue to have a desire to see people uplifted. I am still very much aware of the ploys mentioned above. So how is that I am not woke?
In addition to non-believers thinking you can't be a Woke Christian, there are Christians who think such a title implies an allegiance to race over religion. Woke may mean that for someone out there, but it does not and never has for me. Still, being theologically and religiously conservative, the Christians I was brought up in the church with taught me that being Black and concerning myself with injustice or oppression were distractions that true Christians should not entertain.
While I agree that these should not be our primary concern, I think we do a huge disservice to the God we serve if we deny oppression and ignore it. I stifled my sense of identity and my passions for justice for years because I had been taught to. Being unable to find contentment in that state, I searched the Scripture for what God had to say about these issues and found out that He feels the way I do. I now had my license to be who He called me to be.
Christian. Black. Woke.
If being woke is being aware of what society is doing to keep us quiescent, being a Woke Christian is the only way to be truly Woke. Only a Bible-believing, Bible-studying Christian is in a position to understand why we face the ills we do. Only Christians understand the invisible and yet very real forces at play. In conclusion, a Woke Christian is the wokest person you'll ever meet.