Can You Be Black, Christian And A Social Activist At The Same Time?

By Michal Ortner

Shanita Hubbard is an author and a social-justice advocate who relates with the Christian faith. In her most recent piece, she discusses the paradox of being a Black Christian who also stands for social justice. She says that her spiritual life is very meaningful to her and that she desires to discuss its role in the life of a social justice advocate because of a certain trigger.

The trigger, being the Religious Freedom Law that was signed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, causes a need for her to explain where she stands as someone who claims to be religious herself.

“The selective application of biblical Scriptures in service of a dominant culture is triggering to me. No matter how much I enjoy the centering spiritual practices of Christianity, everything comes to a screeching halt when bills like the religious-freedom law emerge, reminding me of how these same Scriptures, now used to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, were once used to justify enslaving black people,” writes Hubbard.

“The bill makes it lawful for a business to tell a LGBTQ couple that they are welcome to spend their money with it, but their wedding (or anything close to a wedding) could never be held on its premises,” she explains. “This is made possible because of the language in the bill, which defines marriage between a man and a woman. Even as a heterosexual woman, I recognize this bill is a form of discrimination cleverly disguised as protection.”

This type of law causes a deep struggle within Hubbard and those who have her same ideals. She says that it evokes many questions. She admits that she “does not know what a dialogue on the hypocrisies within my faith would look like, or how it would begin.”

“I can’t be the only black Christian who has these struggles that are triggered by laws like the one in Mississippi, laws that are legal forms of discrimination. Yet I struggle to start this conversation where I probably have more questions than answers, more ‘wants’ than solutions,” she expresses.

“In my dream world, such complexities would be easy to fix. If I ruled the world, everyone striving for social justice would operate under one love. I would bridge the gap between members of the black church and the LGBTQ community. But in reality, what I would settle for is a layered, open discussion about black people, Christianity and social justice, hopefully sooner rather than later. The weight of this paradox is messing with my soul like ether,” Hubbard concludes.