When Jesus Changes Everything: One Sister’s Reflection on Today’s Woke Movement

Before Christ I was steeped in the ideologies of black consciousness, black pride, black superiority, etc.

Like most African Americans I knew there was a battle taking place within me as I struggled with being both black and American. Yet, at the same time, the views I had of myself were also influenced by the perceptions white Americans held about black Americans. As these two opposing views struggled for dominance I struggled to define who I was as a black American while also trying to resist the temptation to yield to the views of white Americans, views which I perceived to be both hurtful and racist.

 

Well it’s been a month now since my wedding and I hope to get back to writing soon. You’ll notice some small changes on the blog site, primarily involving the name change. In the meantime, I present this guest post by Latanya Yarbrough and her thoughts on the Woke Movement that has gripped Christ’s church. 

I used to be so pro-black that I was anti-white. Idealizing and idolizing black culture eventually caused me to despise white people and white culture. Although I would have never admitted this to an “outsider,” in my heart I worshipped blackness and loathed white people.

These were my attitudes when I was unconverted. Before Christ I was steeped in the ideologies of black consciousness, black pride, black superiority, etc. I was tuned in to the social injustices and racial disparities around me–those that had taken place before my birth as well as those that prevailed during the 80’s and 90’s. Like most African Americans I knew there was a battle taking place within me as I struggled with being both black and American.

Yet, at the same time, the views I had of myself were also influenced by the perceptions white Americans held about black Americans. As these two opposing views struggled for dominance I struggled to define who I was as a black American while also trying to resist the temptation to yield to the views of white Americans, views which I perceived to be both hurtful and racist.

W.E.B. Dubois in his book, The Souls of Black Folks, described this war of opposing ideals as a “double consciousness.” Because of my social consciousness and my internal struggles you could say that I was “woke.” My consciousness was shaped not only by what was happening at the time (reduced expenditures for public institutions of all kinds as well as a strong white backlash to the civil rights movement, which was being expressed by opposing both school desegregation and affirmative action programs) but also by the books I read and the lectures I listened to.

I devoured books by Naim Akbar, Dubois, Frances Cress Welsing, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Elaine Brown, and so many others. Their writings and lectures were my daily manna. I consumed this material, both in my personal life and later during academic pursuits. Because of the influence of these readings I, like many blacks, genuinely believed Christianity to be “the white man’s religion.” No one could have been more surprised than I was that the faith I once mocked would become my own faith. The God I once scorned would become my Saviour and my Lord. No one could have been more surprised than I was that my union with Christ and identity in Him would eclipse and redefine every single aspect of my life, including my cultural identity. And perhaps no one is more disturbed than I to see the apparent similarities between the ideologies expressed by the above-mentioned individuals and those espoused by some of the supporters of the Social Justice or, Woke Church Movement.

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