For our 100th blog, I decided to re-visit the genesis of God is a Brown Girl Too. God is a Brown Girl Too is a spiritual movement that was born when I was in seminary and the Holy Spirit revealed to me that one aspect of my calling was to uplift the divine nature of women and girls of color everywhere. This movement is called God is a Brown Girl Too because it is not limited to Africa but to brown women and girls worldwide. Why? Because we have been marginalized, demonized and denigrated throughout history and need to reconstruct our understanding of Spirit as us – not as some old white man who could care less about us. We need to recapture the beauty, grace and power of our divine birthright.
God as Mother, Father, Creator of us all is always present as us all, always loving, always continuing to express as us.
The Brown Girl represents the daughter of all beginnings. Genetic studies and fossil evidence show that humans in Africa, between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago. Based on our knowledge to date, our foremothers left Africa between 125,000 and 60,000 years ago, and that over time these humans replaced earlier human populations such as Neanderthals. And yet, because those who re-wrote history and science and religion left us obscured, worthless, shameful, or – at best – comely, we fail to realize who we really are: made in the image and likeness of the creator of all.
God is a Brown Girl Too exercises the power that we all have to re-claim our legacy as God’s image and likeness for ourselves.
Womanist Alice Walker understood the significance of Brown Girl-ology when she wrote The Color Purple. Celie is the downtrodden Spirit within, who does not find her fullest expression in life until she finds out that God is not a man – but is everything, even the color purple! Shug Avery sings, when you feel the truth and love what you feel, you have found God. Understanding our Oneness with the heart and purpose of the Brown Girl, who merely sits in the shadows of scripture, dances on the edge of time, nonexistent or irrelevant to most – is a challenge worth pursuing because it is by seeing beyond her face-lessness, name-lessness and voice-lessness that we find ourselves.
People from all races, religions, nationalities, and cultures flock to hear the Brown Girl’s voice in The Color Purple on Broadway and to witness her story of realizing that God is within her and everyone else – not merely to be entertained but because there is a ministry in her message.
When I arrived at New York Theological Seminary, I met Drs. Delores Williams and Anne Elliott, in a course that I took on the Spiritual Traditions of Nineteenth Century African American Women. These two womanist theologians taught me that theology is not just how the white man sees God – but how we each walk and talk with God; that African American women have a special relationship with Jesus; that we are moved by the Holy Spirit in a particular way; that we fail to question the messages that we embrace as gospel – like the rape of the slave girl Hagar at the bidding of Sarah; that black women through time have defied death and slavery to bring the word of God; that we have a heritage which not only anoints us with salvation but also with hope.
Drs. Williams and Elliott laid part of the foundation for the beginning of this discourse with acknowledgement of how God expresses as me, along with my background in Unity.
Unity is a nondenominational faith, which teaches that there is no separation between the human spirit and God: that in this eternal Oneness, the “I AM”, we are a living expression of God. Some may find this heretical or blasphemous, but in 2 Corinthians 6:16, the Bible teaches us that “God hath said I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and will be their God.” In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul said “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” He said that “we live and move, and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28).
In Romans 8:9, the biblical witness said “Ye are not the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” In John 10:34-35, Jesus said, “it is not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods.” In John 14:12, Jesus said “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” These scriptures and similar passages form the foundation for the church that Spirit formed through me: SPIRITMUV. SPIRITMUV is the spiritual birthplace for God is a Brown Girl Too.
Like Unity, SPIRITMUV teaches that we have the same consciousness that Jesus Christ had, “Christ Consciousness.” Therefore, it is imperative for us to seek and embrace the kingdom in our lives through our conscious connection with the Spirit of God: in every word that we speak, every vision that we have, every breath that we breathe, every inch of space that we take up. God dwells within us and does not depart from us. We are the temple of God and we live and move and have our being in God. We are not only flesh but also Spirit; there is no separation between us and God.
In 1997, when I was recuperating from surgery, I began to write a collection of poetry called “Plain Brown Girl,” thinking not only about myself but about all black women, asking who is there to tend our wounds and comfort us when we are healing. The Brown Girl spoke through me through centuries, reminding me of that she is the face of God. She expressed herself as a Brown Girl partly because of the limitations of the use of the word “black” to embrace people who are not only the most beautiful deepest, darkest brown but are other endless shades of beautiful brown.
Brown also embraces cultures that do not fall under the “black” rubric – many Asians, Hispanics and Latinos and Native Americans whose darker color is indigenous to their land but no different than all of the darker sisters who populate this world and have been marginalized and condemned as always less than.
Brown Girl-ology is the daughter of womanist theology, born to fashion a God from a past that was before history; courageous enough to create her own myths; inventive enough to question the founding fathers of a faith that is largely prejudiced and racist and sexist; daring enough to remember God as Mother, as well as Father; prophetic enough to celebrate Spirit as herself rather than as a God that does not embrace her image and likeness. We embrace the Spirit in us through the power of community.
To date, there are been five retreats: the Opening to Consciousness Retreat in 2009; the Awakening to Love Retreat in 2010; the Creating Outside the Box Retreat in 2011; the Tell a New Story Retreat in 2012; and the Hope of Glory Retreat in 2013 aboard the Carnival Glory Cruise Ship to Nova Scotia. In 2014, we will have the Reclaiming the Vortex Retreat in Sedona, Arizona.
We are grateful for those of you who have joined us on these retreats as they cannot exist without you.
We look forward to you joining us on future retreats. We also invite you to celebrate yourself and become more aware of Spirit expressing as you by attending our Sunday Worth-Ship Services at the Unity Center of New York City, at 2:30 PM, at 213 West 58th Street, near Broadway.
We meet in the Upper Room to meditate, pray, teach, sing, grow, listen, embrace, and uplift the divine within.
Hope you can help keep our community strong by supporting the you in us.
Much love and many blessings on the path,
Reverend Cecilia Loving