Christianity and Black female agency in academia: keeping it real

The term Keeping it real for me attempts to show how to hold the tension between accessing a realm that has remained relatively unexplained in society as a key component to developing, understanding, relating and making decisions in everyday life.

It is bound up with the many textual layers of a relational identity, one in which I am privileging the context of spirituality, through the lens of Christianity.

As a Black woman I am re-claiming the use of the term as one in which reality is not seen as static but acknowledges a culturally associated connotation of denoting my own perceived authenticity within the recursive decision making process.

Keeping it real it is important to connect to the existing ‘in the moment’ and substantive challenges that face us in everyday life and practice, particularly when dealing with other living people blessed with a human spirit and protected under the common law.

This is juxtaposed to the perceived reality created by governments and institutions that may manipulate us into thinking we have discarded our authority and free will as members of the society in which we live.

Real, in some languages can also translate into meaning ‘regal’ and is also a form of currency in many countries. Using this as a metaphor, these two ideas fit synonymously with the relational context of reality.

Faith, being the main currency or means by which Christians identify the act of ‘bringing things from the spiritual realm into the natural realm’, can also be used to highlight a shift in what is considered or evidenced as real from seeing with natural sight to believing with invested authority and value from God. 

The poem below was presented as part of a short panel session at the ICQI (International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry) in Chicago, Illinois in May 2016.

Keeping It Real

My spiritual journey and the voice that guides

I'm keeping it real, the reality of life is that I am a spiritual being, belonging to a spiritual and physical world. How else might we explain the voice that speaks to me and knows my very thought, actions and destiny even before it’s planted in my own mind?

I'm keeping it real, as a Black African Caribbean Christian woman, attempting to show how I interact to the very stimulus of life from the depths of my God given spirit. My reality might not be the same as yours but I'm living it anyway. 

I'm keeping it real. I know who I am, I know my purpose, I know where I'm at. I might not be where I want to be but I'm not where I was either. I might not be behaving, saying or doing the things people expect me to do or think I ought to do and I'm ok with it. My spirit is ok with it. 

I'm keeping it real, whilst not being realistic! I'm learning to differentiate between the limitless possibilities of my spirit which may ebb and flow within the moments of life challenges and the limiting world of mine and other peoples comfort zone. A place that requires no navigation, we know it all too well!

I'm keeping it real. I know I am blessed, highly favoured and walking in authority. I’m walking, sometimes running in a direction I'm choosing to take. Sometimes pausing to admire the view. I'm meeting lots of new people, learning new ideas, relating to life in many different ways and following in the footsteps of others who discovered things that already existed! In the physical and spiritual realm.

I'm keeping it real. I have found a way of connecting to a higher force. The voice that can guide and direct me into the relational reality of life's challenges. One that validates who l am, helps me to reposition myself when required, and one that can help me to navigate the darkness of the physical world, shining a new light and revelation along my path.

I'm keeping it real. Are you?

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Maureen Greaves

Maureen Greaves

Maureen Greaves is the Director of the social enterprise, Mustard Seed Associates CIC, which undertakes bespoke interventions within child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) as a qualified Systemic Psychotherapist, Social Worker and supervisor. Maureen offers coaching and consultation to individuals in private practice and is the chair of a foster panel for an independent agency. She is also undertaking a doctoral programme in systemic inquiry at the University of Bedfordshire.
Maureen Greaves

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2 Comments On “Christianity and Black female agency in academia: keeping it real”

  1. As a woman of faith myself, I enjoyed this article and the poem – thanks for sharing. 

  2. Yes my Sister! What an uplifting poem. May the Lord bless you for bringing glory to His name at this time. … Reminds me of the worship song "I know who I am".

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