“I’ve been called everything but a child of God.” The raceless gospel follows the longstanding Black Church tradition of affirming the personhood of bodies racialized as black and centering the self-determination of persons of African descent in America, despite dehumanizing and oppressive systems.

The Black Church offers a new headquarters for minoritized and marginalized human beings. “Choose your seat and sit down” because “there’s plenty good room.”  

They can gather on pews to be reminded of their worthiness and dignity. The Black Church offers an alternative narrative to white supremacy and a glimpse into a more just and loving world. This oftentimes transcendent experience marked the beginning of my spiritual journey of decentering whiteness, decolonizing identity and deconstructing race.

The Sunday morning meeting is marked by upbeat music, a religious ecstasy that inspires bodies to dance or “shout” and sermons that re-narrate the Christian story to include those whose “backs are against the wall.” Turn to your neighbor and say, “I am somebody.”

W.E.B. Du Bois named the experience of separation and the work of the Black Church tradition in “The Souls of Black Folk,” a paragon, “one can see in the Negro church today, reproduced in microcosm, all the great world from which the Negro is cut off by color-prejudice and social condition…Practically, a proscribed people must have a social Centre, and that Centre for this people is the Negro church.”

“Black churches also were the first institutions built by Black people and run independent of white society in the United States, with the earliest Black Christian congregations roughly contemporaneous with the Declaration [of] Independence of 1776, including churches in Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, wrote in a Time article in 2021.

He continued, “Since then, African Americans have taken their ‘masters’ religion’ and made it their own through a flowering of denominations that run the gamut from the AME Church to the Church of God in Christ to so many storefront sanctuaries that remain a key refuge for many in hard times. In doing so, they have not only given the wider world astonishing cultural gifts in the form of oratory and song; they have found a new through-line in the Christian liberation story that they have used as a redemptive force to shine a [light] on the hypocrisy at the heart of their bondage.”

The raceless gospel was birthed here, challenging the notion of white supremacy, because we repeated after the psalmist (62:11) and later sang with Hezekiah Walker and The Love Fellowship Choir, “Power Belongs to God.” It was because of this subversive spirituality that I felt called to undermine the credibility of race.

How long, then, ‘til change comes? How long ‘til Jesus comes? Church leaders told me I had to give my life to him today and thirty years later, it looks like I had more time.

I see injustices and call on his name. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” But, he didn’t come and save Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, George Floyd or most recently, Ryan Gainer

“Deliverance was near,” they told me. And yet, police brutality is the reality of many African Americans. So, if Jesus wasn’t coming or couldn’t get here quickly, I wanted faster words that would meet me in the future with the expressed purpose of dismantling oppressive systems, false binaries and hierarchies— the raceless gospel.

Not a “sweet by and by promise” but an immediate response to race and its progeny. Because I will not subject myself to dehumanizing vocabulary, to colonizing and categorizing language. 

Instead, I will write a new narrative and define my own reality. It is my way out of time past and the present redundancy. 

So, don’t say it again. Even if you can’t see it, you’ve heard it all before. Here’s a summary: us versus them.

There is no shortage of lips in service to this false binary. Don’t apply. Instead, you could apply pressure to ensure that this old world comes down quickly. 

Founded on conquest, framed by an inflated sense of self and built on shoddy words like white supremacy, race does not support the beloved community. We will not all come together in the end—not as neighbor or next of kin, only enemies. It is a two-sided arrangement, a false duality that facilitates dueling realities.

But I see beyond the color line to a “kin-dom” and it’s coming. In fact, it’s already here. You can see glimpses of it in the raceless gospel.

This is not an ego- trip but a message for those who want to see themselves freely. But you’ll need to say it like you mean it. Say it until you see it: “I am somebody.”

And just like that, you’ve arrived, standing right next to me in solidarity. Because Howard Thurman is right: “An accurate sense of self is necessary if one is to transform the social order into a community. This accuracy is only possible if the individual is rooted in and committed to the spiritual life.”

Come on, children of God. We have a proclamation to make. Turn to your neighbor and say, “You are somebody.”

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