“Notes on religion” is theGrio’s inspirational, interdenominational collection that includes Black thought leaders throughout faiths.
Ain’t gonna let no one flip me ’spherical,flip me ’spherical, flip me ’spherical,Ain’t gonna let no one flip me ’roundI’m gonna carry on a walkin’, carry on a-talkin’,Marching as much as freedom land.
Just lately, Tennessee State Consultant Gloria Johnson posted a video of herself to social media, singing a beloved freedom tune entitled “Ain’t Gonna Let No person Flip Me ‘Spherical” at a celebration in Knoxville. She was encircled by white ladies friends who appeared aware of the tune, clapping alongside and smiling as they regarded into her digicam cellphone and at one another. Saying they had been “channeling,” Johnson misattributed the tune to recording artist Joan Baez, an American people musician and activist of blended Mexican and Scottish ancestry who recorded it in 1976.
Coincidentally, Baez’s voice had been amplified as a voice of freedom only a week or so earlier. Video circulated of Rep. Justin Jones singing one other freedom tune, “We Shall Overcome,” with Baez within the airport, shortly after he and Rep. Justin Pearson had been expelled from the Tennessee Home for protesting within the properly of the legislature. As beforehand reported by theGrio, Reps. Jones, Pearson, and Gloria Johnson protested lawmakers’ inaction in response to an area mass capturing; finally, the 2 Black males had been expelled. Johnson, a white lady, was not, later commenting that the vote went in her favor due to racism amongst their colleagues. The tensions surrounding the incident drove dwelling the racial divides that persist in states like Tennessee — and highlighted the privileges afforded white allies, even when unintentional.
As in that nod to Baez, that is what cultural erasure feels like.
Whereas Baez recorded a preferred rendition, the unique tune, “Don’t You Let No person Flip You Round,” is a conventional Negro religious we are able to hear in Freedom Rider and SNCC recordings captured many years prior and curated by Dr. Berniece Johnson Reagon for the Smithsonian. All through the civil rights motion, Baez, Bob Dylan, and different non-Black musicians had been impressed by the African-American voices of their time to report songs supporting the battle. Nevertheless, specificity in regards to the origins of this and different songs is essential in making social justice significant in allyship.
Oft-repeated misattribution within the title of performing social justice is exactly why we should prioritize decolonizing our religion. By decolonizing our religion, we let go of colonial management as we unify with our communities and observe our faiths. We’re calling consideration (and intention) that our documented historical past should inform allyship to make sure our tales are instructed, particularly by means of one among our tradition’s most treasured items to the world: our music.
Within the age of Black Lives Matter and within the state of Tennessee, the place protesting is actually being criminalized, we’ve got to be very clear in regards to the methods through which we allow individuals to like and leverage our tradition solely when it’s handy or helpful for that white ally.
These observations trigger us to query what the panorama of issues is as we think about the textual content in Psalm 133:1:
“Behold, how good and the way nice it’s for sisters and brothers to dwell collectively in unity!”
Generally, the method of unifying may be clumsy and fairly uncomfortable.
That ought to not deter us from happening report or setting the report straight when wanted. If something, for the sake of holistic liberation, we should be correct.
The mannequin of decolonizers
Don’t lose coronary heart, brothers and sisters. Black People carry a legacy rooted within the African philosophy: “I’m as a result of we’re.” Any battle requires a collective press towards holistic liberation through which all of us succeed. We acknowledge many have been on this battle.
In the exact same metropolis from which Rep. Johnson hails is our hometown church of Mount Zion in Knoxville, Tenn., the place our father, Rev. Dr. Johnnie W. Skinner, Sr., is at the moment senior pastor. Based in 1860, about three years earlier than Emancipation, enslaved and freed Black ancestors protested their therapy inside the white-led congregation of First Baptist Church and shaped their very own congregation in response. They didn’t look forward to permission to embrace their autonomy in freely worshiping; they created justice in unjust spiritual apartheid. The Black prophetic custom speaks reality to energy and doesn’t separate religion and justice in how we do our work. Such work isn’t deterred by jeers or lukewarm assist from people who find themselves extra invested of their consolation than progress.
The undeterred Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman expressed a decolonized religion as she grasped justice within the unjust system of chattel slavery: “God’s time is all the time close to. He set the North Star within the heavens; He gave me the energy in my limbs; He meant I ought to be free.”
These voices are fashions of what it means to be undeterred and clear in regards to the methods through which they uplift, amplify, liberate, and unify their kin. Could we do the work of remembering our origins and hold targeted on the place we’re going.
Allow us to be proud to have fun an undaunted religion heritage. Too usually, trustworthy individuals rooted in Blackness are shamed for the distinctiveness of uplifting “how we acquired over.” Be Black, proud, and ready to replicate on the standard of alliance you’ll allow into your life. On some stage, you have to to guard and reclaim your heritage as we pursue unity. And as we assess potential allies, we hope they are going to gravitate towards foundational understandings of the cultural expressions we maintain pricey, whether or not by means of music, dance, and even protest methods which have sustained us.
Don’t let no one flip you round in our quest to a freedom land the place our total legacy is remembered.
Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones is a religion chief serving to individuals discover their groove in a fast-paced world, as a advisor for numerous arts and religion organizations and professor of music in modern societies on the College of Cambridge in England. She is an award-winning writer of Flaming? The Peculiar Theopolitics of Hearth and Want in Black Male Gospel Efficiency (Oxford College Press). For extra info, please go to DrAlisha.com.
Rev. Calvin Taylor Skinner is devoted to empowering frontline communities in Knoxville, TN and the UK. He makes use of Religion and Coverage to deal with power justice, felony justice reform, voter schooling/mobilization, electoral politics, and international affairs. Alongside along with his spouse, Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, they lead InSight Initiative, a consulting agency that focuses on capability constructing and dwell occasions manufacturing.
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