Foolish Foundations

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Scripture: Matthew 7:15-29
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
These lyrics, penned by the English hymnist and Baptist minister Edward Mote, in 1834 capture a rugged spirituality born at the crossroads of great industrial advancement and civil upheaval. 1834. This is the year when new inventions are being patented every week while anti-abolitionist riots are breaking out in New York City—
The year that slavery is abolished in the British Empire while the Ursuline Convent in Massachusetts is burned to the ground by an anti-Catholic extremist group in the name of Jesus. On Christ the solid Rock I stand All other ground is sinking sand,
Mote writes. I imagine him standing at the intersection of prophetic hope and indescribable despair with a pen and paper in his hands, trying to hold onto a …

Black Woman


Black woman
         Black woman
Black woman

Why you gotta be so strong, huh?

What is it about your make up
Your makeup
          Your make up

That makes you care so much
That makes you love so deep
Your black people?

Black woman
          Black woman
Black.

     Black.

           Woman.

Why you gotta go to war, huh?

Why you gotta wave the flag?
What is it about your swag
That speaks power in the midst of defeat?--

That undermines toxic masculinity,
Even when it’s your brother?

With your body
You turn a pew into a pulpit--
A kitchen into a bible study--

Because your call for justice was never selfish.
It was never exclusive.
There is no cognitive dissonance in your
          proclamation of freedom.

     Black Woman
Black Woman

          Woman

               Woman

                    Woman


What is it about the way you
stir that cake batter in the basement
that saves our souls
long before the Black preacher man ever could?

Black Woman

       Black Woman


What is it about the way you lift your hands
and wave your white handkerchief
that makes us wanna
see Jesus face to face screaming:

“Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”


Black Woman!

     Black Mama,

   Black Auntie,

         Black Sister,

    Black Daughter,

Black Grandma,

    Black Mary:



What is it about the way you stretch your arms
in a powerful stillness
that lets the world know that
ALL black lives matter--
not just the ones who are respectable
not just the ones who conform to a gender binary
not just the ones who love each other in a specific way

But that your wingspan,
   Black woman,
your wingspan
is big enough
for all of us--

that your wingspan

          your wingspan

                    wingspan

is big enough to save us all
to love us all

Black Woman

What is it about the way you cradle us
Even when no one cradles you?

“Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks...”

The black woman falls.
     She falls.

Black woman.

What's in it for you, huh?

What’s in it for you?





Written and performed by Mia Michelle McClain
for the Womanist Proclamation and the Arts course
at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
May 2018.

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