Jesus Was a Black Trans Woman: On God, Divinity, and the Gospels of Mya and Mike Brown

Let me start: I am not a theologian; I am not an aspiring clergy; I am not even a Christian. However, I recognize that I am an expression of the divine (however you imagine her). My perception of Christ and Christian theology has changed over the last months. This is a snapshot.

Mya died and remains dead because of our sins. And, she waits in the tomb, waiting to be resurrected.

What a mockery the church can make of God and all her essence. I come from Indianapolis, Indiana: where the sermons are long and the substance is tenuous. This was the touchstone for my departure from the (Black) church. There was nothing there for me. I was a Black Queer boy who loathe swallowing cheap theology imbued with rhetorical and spiritual violence. I refused to be at the behest of a God that hated his own work. The God presented to me was scarcely beyond a self-loathing artist. Jesus’ lure missed me altogether. I detested church; I adored being late for service. However, I will refrain from belaboring the age-old tale of the Black Queer boy swimming lost in the throat of violent theology. Since I left Indianapolis for Morehouse College, I have embarked on an involuntarily spiritual odyssey. I situated myself around heretics – you know, the saints that revere Black woman, call God she, and promulgate the intersectionality of the gospel. If Jamal Bryant were the proprietor of a fiery hell, he would damn them all. One has to admit the brilliance of Black theology. It shaped on the blazing fields where we labored. And, while the master and the slave resided on one single plantation, they prayed before two separate Gods with opposing intentions. White supremacy puts on one hell of a show. It never fails to leave behind nefarious webs and ambiguous conundrums to reconcile. However, my ancestors never hesitated to strike the curtain of White supremacist theology only to reveal a God that sees all of us. We have to do it again.

One might faint once they lay sights on the eerie parallels between the lives of Jesus and Mike Brown and Mya. Mike Brown and Mya were poor, of color, threatening to the White supremacist gaze, and killed by the State. Jesus of Nazareth was born in an insignificant place, poor, lived in a police State, threatening to the imperialistic gaze, and eventually executed by the State. Jesus’ entire story is the chronicle of a brown body that lived in constant ontological limbo. Alas! The all too familiar cyclical tableau! Jesus was so skillfully engraved into the annals of theology because he, allegedly, possessed an unexampled divinity. I ridded my psyche of the mythical apocryphal Jesus that performed magic tricks. When the paradigm for divinity is only that, those of us who cannot restore the ear of the high priest’s servant miss the opportunity (obligation?) to assess our innate divinity. This, again, is not the proverbial divinity that allows one to saunter on, or still, the blue waters and resurrect Lazarus. Honest divinity does not necessarily earn praises from spectators at Nain. One’s own divinity does not require the flash of performative supernatural feats; nor does it require one to deliver lost souls from the wilderness of a world. To be divine is to relate to or come from God or a god. Jesus was divine because he descended from All, the source of divinity, as we all do. We are all divine by definition. We all have to realize the orientation of our own divinity. Michael Brown and Mya were divine because of their source, just like Jesus; just like Jesus, they were slain.

Mya was Jesus; Rekia Boyd was Jesus; Mike Brown was Jesus. And, just like Jesus, Mike Brown resurrected. One can see all of his disciples at the vanguard of #BlackLivesMatter.  However, we have only chosen to exalt the gospel of Mike Brown and those like him: Black, cis, male, heteronormative, and a victim of the State. The gospel of Mya – and those like her: poor, Black, Trans, and a victim of the State – remains buried in the hinterland of worthy gospels. Every slain Jesus’ (read: any black or brown body mortgaged to the State for the purpose(s) of arbitrary violence) gospel is worthy of the pulpits of our critical consciousness. Lest the (Black) church spreads the gospel of Mya or Rekia, and not solely the gospel of Mike Brown, the countenance of the true message of Jesus will remain hidden. Ferguson, Baltimore, and all the other Golgothas, where all the other slain Jesus’ perished, deserve equal intracommunal and national outcry. The question is one of reconciliation: how does one reconcile the reality of a Jesus that aligns with Queer liberation, Black feminist thought, Trans inclusivity, the eradication of a police State, and so on, with a discounted Christian theology that is just going through the motions?

I do not feel as though I need to declare Christianity, ever. I am not even sure if I would. I do know that the true message of Jesus and Mike Brown and Rekia Boyd and Mya is missed on most of the church. I am certain, however, that Jesus was a brown body under occupation; constantly asserting his body where it was not celebrated; and threatening the space. It sounds too damn familiar. Mike Brown was Jesus; Rekia Boyd was Jesus; Mya was Jesus. Jesus was a Black Trans Woman.

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