Ekemini Uwan

Theology | Culture | Race | Politics

The Blood of Jesus Is The Bridge; Not My Back

Thank you to everyone who rallied around me after the fallout from the Sparrow Conference. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support all across racial lines. I’m truly stunned by the way you all mobilized on my behalf. I witnessed God fight my battle through so many of you: it was a true multi-ethnic coalition, and only God can do that. There are so many of you who called, texted, tweeted, DM’d, FB Messaged, and prayed for me. I thank you all very much. I want to highlight Carmen J. Caccavale and Jane Kim who took the time to transcribe my on-stage interview. If it weren’t for them, my words would have been erased. I want to thank DeeDee Roe, a Black woman, who wrote about her experience of The Sparrow Conference and her observations as an attendee. She also video recorded my entire segment and uploaded it to YouTube before Sparrow pulled the video down. I also want to thank my attorney, Timothy Welbeck, who obtained the photos and video from Sparrow, today. I have the images and video footage in my possession now thanks to his work, LaTasha Morrison’s mediation, and the women who organized, online and in Dallas, who reached out to Sparrow leadership to release them to me. Thank you all.

I’ll only share a bit of my experience because I don’t want to rehash the whole experience. When I arrived at the venue, I was greeted warmly by the Sparrow staff. The interviewer and I took about thirty-minutes to review the questions again and go over the logistics of how our segment would run. We went up on stage she asked me the questions, the interview went well, in my view. I could tell the mood of the room started to shift as we got into the interview, but that is not something I'm unaccustomed to as one who is an anti-racist truth-teller. About ten women got up and left as I spoke; again, that is not new. To a room full of white women, predominantly, I told the truth about the wickedness of whiteness which is a central pillar of the racial caste system, the need to divest from it and their need to reclaim and embrace their God-given ethnicity. I preached the gospel and told them there is grace and that the blood covers. I gave them practical solutions and book recommendations. I was satisfied with how the interview went because it was full of truth, the gospel, love, and grace. To my surprise, when I walked off the stage, the Sparrow staff turned cold and did not speak to me, with the exception of Elizabeth who interviewed me and stayed in touch with me after the conference.

As the conference went on, I noticed that all of the Sparrow social media accounts had pictures and quotes posted from every plenary speaker except for me. I had been systematically and intentionally erased. I was nowhere to be found on the Sparrow IG story as well. This is what it looks like:  I was used in the promo material to fill seats because of my name and the work I've done on Truth's Table, but when I did the very thing that brings the crowd, I was erased and silenced.

The Blood of Jesus is the bridge; not my back.

I am an anti-racist Public Theologian. At minimum, what it means to be a an antiracist is to shine the light of truth on the darkness of racism. To be an antiracist requires that I enter racist spaces, even when those in the space are unaware of their racism and the ways they participate in racist systems. I hold up a mirror, make people face the racist reflection staring back at them, and I give them hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Audiences must be prepared for the ugly truth about racism in this country. My ministry is not in secret. I have been doing this for a few years now, through the podcast I co-host called Truth’s Table, which has been around for two years, my writing, my tweets, and my lectures all on my website. Anyone remotely familiar with my ministry should not have been shocked by what I said in that interview. My pinned tweet on Twitter is about reparations. I don't play patty-cake with white supremacy. We are under a regime. It is not a game. My people are dying. Black churches are burning.

Racism is not eradicated by surface conversations, empty platitudes and hollow lament that provides catharsis instead of actual transformation. I don't go to conferences to make white people feel good and I don’t go there to make them feel bad either. I go there to affirm the Black people and non-Black people of color, to speak truth to the white people and give them a way forward through the gospel. Those who have ears to receive will receive and those that don't, won't. That comes by way of the Holy Spirit, not me.

The Blood of Jesus is the bridge; not my back.

Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are required to tell the truth about ourselves to God. This the truth about ourselves: that we are sinners who have sinned against God in thoughts, words, and deeds. The only way we are able to confess that is by grace and when we confess that sin, we become children of God. No longer enemies. We have peace with God, but that peace only comes after we confess the truth that we are sinners in need of grace and that the Blood of Jesus covers us and unites us--one to another--because we are reconciled back to God, so now we can be reconciled to one another. However, truth always precedes reconciliation. My personhood is not the bridge. My blackness is not the bridge. My gender is not the bridge. The blood of Jesus is the bridge, which is made possible by grace through faith in His finished work.

I’m not perfect in my work, but I prayerfully employ discernment and pursue wisdom, precision, and fidelity, knowing that calling out well-guarded idols can produce protective, defensive, and blatantly hostile responses. My prophetic ministry, at its best, is fueled by agapic love. In that spirit of love, the most excellent way, to my Black sistas who are experiencing secondary trauma as a result of the countless ways I was mistreated, I want to say thank you for your love. You all have rallied around me in remarkable ways and I’m speechless. Please take care of yourselves. I can tell this whole ordeal has taken its toll on you, too. Some of you are with child and under huge amounts of stress as it is, please don’t let white supremacy take you out. Step away from social media and breathe. God’s got us; this I know. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. I’m taking my own advice and stepping away as well.

As of today, I received a sincere apology from Rachel Joy, the Director of Sparrow. She apologized for the specific ways she caused harm and she took ownership as the leader and on behalf of the organization. She asked for forgiveness and I’m asking God to give me the grace to forgive her quickly. I know God will do that; He is faithful. We all need grace, no one is beyond redemption. There are ways that she can repair the harm done and I asked her to take time to think and pray about what that will look like. As I said earlier, their lawyer released the video and photos to me. I will post the video on my Instagram bio, the clips on my Instagram page, and the full video link will be in the Twitter thread below this letter. I am taking a week-long break from social media to rest, recoup, and recharge from this unfortunate event. I ask that you all pray for me and also pray for Rachel and the Sparrow Organization as the leaders have a lot of internal work to do personally and as an organization.

Grace to you,

Ekemini Uwan

Decolonized Discipleship

“The church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, or the oppressor. And as you know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.” Fanon, Wretched of The Earth (42)

Although Fanon’s anticolonial body of work was written in the twentieth century and in the Algerian colonial context, his words resonate in the twenty-first century, particularly with regard to the white evangelical and multiethnic church contexts of America.  It is a lamentable fact that the church was the primary vehicle through which colonization spread on the African continent and beyond. Presently, many white evangelical churches continue to follow in the footsteps of their settler ancestors, planting churches in urban areas that resemble colonies.

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Copyright 2019 by Ekemini B. Uwan