This really should have been the title of this whole blog.....
I've always believed myself to be a cultural mutt of sorts. I see things through the eyes of a girl born black; the daughter of a father from the ghettos of Houston and mother from backwoods SC; growing up in a conservative, racially homogeneous, borderline xenophobic, blood-red suburb; a sarcastic girl with a thirst for knowledge who has never been the same after having seen the movie "Malcolm X" at 8 years old. Somehow, at that point, the world began to fascinate me. So I took hold of it, and have been captivated since.
I was always that 1 black kid in my class (I pray that there were more in your class) who was asked to give the BLACK people's perspective on everything:
Teacher: "Marquisha, (thats my first name, and the name I used to be called by, before I met one too many phonetically challenged people) How do you feel about the Emancipation Proclamation? "
I was the white girl's playground date. They always wanted to touch my puffy jet black hair, like I was a science experiment. I was their gateway to learning what a weave was. ("Can you take your hair out so I can play with it?") Some of those very same girls grew up to be my best friends and as a result, know better :-)
I spend the first half of my life oblivious to how unlike me my classmates and neighbors were, the next portion becoming painfully aware of such things, and the most recent part building the toughest outer shell of self-awareness and resilience that you have ever seen.
Somewhere in there, I managed to develop a unique and often confusing view of the world. I've had the opportunity to go to schools where students are indoctrinated with the "sky's the limit" mentality and mega churches that make Sarah Palin proud but there's something about the condition of the world and the injustice that so deeply divides the "haves" and "havenots" that has pricked my heart much deeper than any one of those.
So why would a good little brown, God-fearing, Georgia girl ever want to check her ballot Democrat? Remember the time that I told you I fell in love with the world? It was because the world, in many ways, despite the occasional punch in the stomach, loved me back. Not in the systematic way, of course. Heck, if I was still relying on the system I'd still be in the bathroom scrubbing my skin, trying to purge it of every trace of my ancestors struggle. It has been in the way that I have been able to learn and be inspired by the most unlikely people that the world has otherwise discarded. Amazing people that have bolstered my compassion for humankind and caused me to fall in love with the movement that unite us in purpose and live. In my adulthood, aligning myself with the Democratic party has been the closest fit (notice I didn't say perfect fit).
The reality (sprinkled with a tad bit of opinion) that I live by is this: I love God, but God loves the person sitting next to me too. The compassion that we show, as Christians, the judgment we reserve when others dole it out freely, will be our mark. I believe in the bible, I believe in the law that it represents, but I'd hate for my belief to smother my tolerance for those who don't. I believe that's what Republicans have done, use the bible as a branding iron for the undesirable, the overt sinners; the folks who swear like those are the only words in their vocabulary; the people that drink until their liver hails a cab home; the folks that lay down with just about anyone, even those of those of the same sex" It makes me ill because it's the worse kind of discrimination and oppression possible. The kind of ill that makes you want to blog!! Grrrr.
You see, we focus almost entirely on the reasons that Christ lives in heaven, and forget the reasons why he came to earth to begin with. He came, representing the virtues that we have tried desperately to restore in the world. We've used institutions, relationships, heck, even WARS to force into existence the very things that Christ embodied: loving-kindness, tolerance. He tells us, often, to bury these things in our hearts and let them flourish. These things didn't come out of nowhere. That, most simply, is why I believe and follow Christ while still voting Democrat. Because just as I believe in the bible, I believe in the mercy, grace and compassion that God has commanded us to show others. So, whoever says that Christians are these brainwashed people, sent to earth to judge and ostracize people, might have it all wrong. Or they might have been following a person (imperfect) instead of God.
This is not an ode to my beliefs and certainly not an ode to self-righteousness. Moreover, being a Democrat doesn't explain everything about me. No check mark or ballot box should ever do that. It's just a bit of perspective so you don't think that this Georgia girl is talking out of the side of her neck when she steps up to the mic. (metaphorically speaking).
My Moma (Missouri mother from the Obama campaign) once told me in opposition to my half-baked idea to get fist tattooed on my body, "Jojo, Don't get a first tattoo on your body, you already have one on your brain." Ya know, maybe she is right. So I'll keep living like there is a fist on my brain to fight against the ignorance and the misconceptions that float among us and a fist on my heart to love mightily, those who judge me. I know, I'm weird. I'm just a Georgia that loves her Jesus and her politics.