by Oluwaseun Olowo-Ake
Intersectionality [n]: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group…
Bright orbs of identities float about in the soul, interacting constantly with each other to shape it; feeding, adapting, growing, and even shrinking as the soul moves along the timeline of life. For the most part, the soul just is, acknowledging - albeit subconsciously - that each of these orbs: young, black, African, female, Christian, and every other thing they are named; make the soul what it is. The orbs, fashioned by the Most High and redeemed by Him, are intricately bonded in His infinite wisdom to make one glowing being.
But further along its timeline, the soul begins to dim. It masks, hides, and even outright turns off some of its orbs in search of belonging… acceptance… home. The soul presents differently depending on where it finds itself and does so happily, for it understands that it needs to communicate with other, distinct souls.
“It’ll only be two hours,” says the soul, “ I’ll turn the orbs back on when I get home.”
But then two hours turns to four, and four hours to 16, and soon the orbs sit in the back forgotten, the soul existing perpetually as a dull version of itself.
What could incite this? What would make a soul so bright, fashioned and redeemed by the Almighty Himself, willingly decide to exist as something less?
You could mention that the soul exists in conditions that weren’t made for it; where the systems in place were created for and by souls that are almost polar opposites to it; where for the soul to thrive, it must compromise- day in and day out- in hopes that it can maybe one day reach a place where it can just be; conditions where part of what begins to shape the soul are the negative experiences it is repeatedly faced with; where it becomes easier to just *try* to be something else.
And you could add to that.
You could mention that the soul, after placing itself under the Sovereignty of Yahweh, is then fed by souls it trusts- also intricately bonded by the Most High- that He is not pleased with the orbs He has fashioned and redeemed. It is told that it is too loud, too unkempt, listens to the wrong genre of music; that its language is too barbaric; its personality, too aggressive; that as it is it has nothing to offer. More than having to adapt to make the best out of the physical, it is informed that a significant part of what defines it is too far away from the intent of the Almighty.
It is taught that it is inherently ungodly.
And the soul, desperately wanting to please the Almighty, absorbs the conjectures.
But, what if it was told that He knew exactly what He was doing when He fashioned it?
What if it was told that He delights in loud and rhythmic just as much as He does quiet and melodic?
What if it was told that He understands perfectly well when it speaks, and that He not just hears, but waits patiently for its words however they escape its lips?
What if it was told that nothing that it faced was too unorthodox for Him to understand or address?
What if it was told that when He redeems- makes right- the parts of it that do not resemble His goodness, He does so completely and it doesn't have to worry about whether it can stand in His presence?
What if it was told that it was fashioned to show His wisdom in all its variety to the whole of creation?
What if it was told that it too, could glorify Him?
What if it was showed that it too has divine dignity, because infused in all the orbs was something He had called the soul:
Imago Dei - Image of God.
I think the soul would be content. I think it would trust Him more.
And it would stay fully ignited with His everlasting light, knowing with every fibre of its being, that it never had to choose between being black and being His.
© Oluwaseun Olowo-Ake
Themes: intersectionality, faith, christianity, code-switching, identity, compromise; imagodei; blackchristianity; double-consciousness.