Jayma Anne Montgomery
Ballad of a CWPOCA: There Are No Strings on Me
CWPOCA = Christian Woman Person of Color in America
My experiences as a person of color have been commandeered as a tool of political rhetoric. How ludicrous is that? My debut book talks about my decades-long struggle with self-acceptance. It has been an arduous journey getting to a place of viewing my skin color, facial features, body type, and the natural hairstyles of my melanin-heavy sisters as beautiful in their own right rather than just an unfortunate gene expression that we have no choice but to reluctantly accept or subjugate to rituals that badly damage our temperamental strands.
I blame the extremists among us--POCs who have crossed into the realm of Black supremacy, the deification of Black people, and the worship of all things culturally black. Making every issue a race issue isn't helpful. Demonizing people of European ancestry is even less so. Why can't POCs be great without needing to tear down and demonize Caucasians across the board?
You know what else is unhelpful? Pairing issues of sexual ethics and gender identity with issues of racial justice. I am automatically viewed with suspicion by some because of this association that I never asked for. It's immensely unfair. I want to be free to talk about race without people suspecting that I have some hidden liberal agenda up my sleeve. I don't want people to close their ears to my legitimate concerns because of this unfortunate co-platforming. Many African-Americans in the Democratic party have silently consented to this coupling for decades in the name of furthering civil rights issues. Now we have a full-fledged marriage on our hands. Blackness is not a natural extension of the modern sexual revolution--far from it. The overwhelming majority of Black people in this country--African Americans, Caribbean immigrants, and African immigrants--are socially conservative. We need to be willing to have more nuanced conversations about our political views and agitate for a permanent decoupling of these issues. We can do this quietly, respectfully, and powerfully as our ancestors did during times of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.
A friend of mine expressed appreciation for my full embrace of a look that is not Eurocentric. Without giving it much thought, I made the following statement: "We can't ever erase the full effects of colonization on our culture but I think it's important for people of color to buck against it gracefully." This is what I hope to accomplish in this new season of life. I intend to cling to the good things that European colonization brought to Jamaica, America, and to Christianity. Condemning it all as universally bad is unhelpful and untrue. But, I think it's time to start calling out some of the things that make it difficult for some of us Black folks to feel like we belong in this country. You can free us and then shove Eurocentric glasses on our faces and tell us that this is the only way to be a good American, a good Christian, or an attractive woman. And so, without embracing scorn for my country, pagan gods, or some definition of womanhood that ignores biology and genetics, I am firmly yet gracefully pushing back. No one gets to put me in a box and your judgment of me needs to be based on more than just not liking my personal style. Examine the content of my speech and the fruit of a life lived in submission to the supreme G-d of the Bible. Then hit me up for a private conversation. Stay thoughtful.
Book Launch tomorrow guys. Pray I have physical books!