America, You Must Be Born Again

“The Flag is Bleeding #2” (1997) by Faith Ringgold

“The Flag is Bleeding #2” (1997) by Faith Ringgold

Written by Michelle Higgins

Dr. King’s words ring true this and every day. That the “United States” we know today stand still in a refusal to mark the history that would address our divisions, united against the truth which has power to make us free. We have been dishonest about the past, so we’ve become fearful of the truth, too fragile to respond to the present reality. This week many people in the United States reflect on independence, realized or withheld. But for people of color in America, a piece of the story is missing.

When Nicodemous came to Jesus, he acknowledged that the people in his day were in need of a good teacher. Jesus gave him an opportunity to face the truth that change required more than new ideas and diverse worldviews, change requires rebirth.

We have no other option in American today. 

From Native massacre to mass incarceration, Asian internment to brutality at the border, the American Dream made manifest is nothing less than the unthinkable: white supremacist politics over the righteous stewardship of humanity; centered on justice, inclusivity, and care for all created things. 

Toni Morrison wrote “What do we mean when we say home? It is a virtual question because the destiny of the 21st century will be shaped by the possibility or the collapse of a shareable world.”

That destiny is being decided as we speak. Every poisoned drop of water, every drop of martyred blood, the dying breaths of Black mothers, the cries for refuge at our borders going punished and ignored, each is a force to the future of an unshareable world. But when will we admit, fellow Americans, that we have not yet lived in a shareable economy? That this fabricated country is not a just and welcoming home?

What can we celebrate this so-called Independence Day? Frederick Douglass still speaks to remind us that those who fight for and alongside the oppressed of America had little to celebrate in the first place. I agree. I choose to recall, to serve Truth and the Author of the same. 

I will celebrate the survival of my people and all who ennoble themselves by clinging to peace over power.

I will lament the families torn apart for a false sense of security, the Black and brown blood shed by America’s sins. I will commit myself to the cause for freedom. I will preach the words of Jesus to all who fly by night in search of good teaching: we must be born again. And we can be, my Bible tells me that we will be. 

Perhaps the most lasting cure for the curse of Independence Day is one of interdependence. That is, affirming along with our foremothers in the Faith that none of us is free until all of us taste liberty. This is more than a piercing phrase, though I pray it does that too. It is a reminder that you are unlikely to launch a campaign for healing, health and freedom built upon the tenants of individualism. Even if you find yourself pursuing your life’s most honorable cause, each of us is in need of the strategies, stories and experiences of others. If there is never a bad time for action, it is always a good time for engaging truth. There is no lack of opportunity to do this. My hope is that none of us is prevented from right action, or led astray to corruption, because of ignorance. Please take advantage of the opportunities to engage truth in this last half of the year. 

I am reminded often that Black America is 400 years old this year, 2019. 

And I am struck by the song “We’ve Come This Far by Faith”, not by fearful assimilation, idolizing politicians, diminishing difficulties or suppressing the truth. But by nurturing faith, by clinging to hope, by learning the power of love.

Faith for Justice, our partners and friends are committed to participating in a theology of inter-dependence by doing just that. Join our cause to challenge, to collaborate, and to change. Rebirth into a shareable world, humanity’s true home, is more than a possibility, it is a promise. This is our reason to celebrate.

August 23rd in Richmond, VA

Truth’s Table and Urban Doxology

Commemorating the 400th African Landing Day

Open to everyone

August 30-31 in Saint Louis, MO
Faith For Justice ANEW Conference

Amplifying the stories and voices of Black women bearing witness

Open to everyone

September 19-21 in Chicago, IL

Liberating Evangelicalism

Decentering whiteness in sacred spaces

October 4-5 in Chicago, IL

Joy and Justice

National Conference of The Witness

A Black Christian Collective

Venneikia Williams