Black voices and experiences have historically been silenced or ignored. Even with issues relating to women, Black women are often neglected. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to change this and elevate those voices. These books mentioned can be inspirational to all readers and give insight to the Black experience. These books will be influential to the work we are called to do in Christ, and they will lead us to deeper and more meaningful Christian lives.
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley
This Here Flesh is Cole Arthur Riley’s debut book. She is the creator and writer of Black Liturgies, a collective of prayers, spiritual thoughts, and words of liberation. Similarly, Riley’s This Here Flesh offers a connection between liberation and the contemplative life. Her words take us on a journey through her life and the lives of two people who have influenced her faith and writing: her grandmother and her father. Through story, Riley tells us of the heartache and joy of being Black in America—at the intersections of grief, faith, and creativity. Not far from Blackness is pain, but joy is still found and must be received. This read will offer freedom and comfort to many readers, and it will offer an opportunity to observe and witness for others.
In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit by Yolanda Pierce
A specific experience for Black folks is the prayers and influence of grandmothers. Here, author Yolanda Pierce invites us into her own experience with “grandmother theology,” a term within womanist theology which she explores and is an expert in. In My Grandmother’s House reminds us of the importance of mothers in the church, mostly seen within the Black church. While the men pastor and head the church, the teaching, prayers, and cries come from the women. Pierce explores these questions: What can the traditionalist teach the younger generation? Why is modesty such a common concern between the mothers of the church and the young women? How is God preparing Black women to one day become the “grandmothers” in the church? Pierce uses story and experience to show how her faith was kept through her grandmother and the women that surrounded her during her upbringing. This knowledge can and must be passed on to generations to come.
Diversity Playbook: Recommendations and Guidance for Christian Organizations by Michelle R. Loyd-Paige and Michelle Williams
If you feel called to diversity work, or if you want to support someone in diversity work, Diversity Playbook gives insight into what the work entails. Authors Michelle R. Loyd-Paige and Michelle D. Williams use their many years of experience and knowledge to give advice and understanding to a world that can be simultaneously rewarding and exhausting. Loyd-Paige and Williams use personal stories and statistics to show the ins and outs of the work done by diversity experts. They make a clear distinction between the different types of diversity and help readers understand how diversity work is more than handling a PR disaster and fitting a quota. They also offer recommendations for methods that can be helpful to those in diversity work.
Carved in Ebony: Lessons From the Black Women Who Shape Us by Jasmine L. Holmes
Jasmine L. Holmes writes to us of influential Black women with whom we might be unfamiliar. They might have had a small impact during their lifetime, but their legacy lives on through the work they accomplished. Through her extensive research, Holmes gives a voice to these women who would have otherwise been silenced for eternity. These women persevered through much adversity: racism and sexism—things we still experience today—topped with slavery and lack of education for many of the women. They remained faithful to themselves and their faith. In a society that teaches us to strive for fame, Carved in Ebony uses these women to remind us that small change can still leave an impact. Each woman’s story provides an opportunity to reflect, weep for their pains, and praise God for their lives.
As we strive to elevate the voices of women, it is important to remember that there is a diverse set of voices that needs to be heard. Equality for women and men in the church is not linear, and history has shown us that it is necessary to fight for full equality, leaving no one behind. When reading these women, we hope this encourages you to continue to learn from them and others alike even after the month of February.