What Maya Angelou and many other elders of Womanism taught (teach) me:
Do not advise faith
and call it “life.”
Do not share God
and call it “food.”
Do not preach compliance
and say it is “love.”
Do not shout the good news of peace
without studying protest.
Do not sing praises to uplift the soul
while striking down the body.
Do not coax your sister to join your hymns
and neglect to accompany her lament.
Do not idolize God’s covenant
and bar someone from the table.
Do not herald God’s divine judgment
and ignore the world’s injustice.
Do not proclaim the Word Made Flesh
and disapprove of God in flesh.
Do not encourage spiritual growth
at the cost of leaving the world behind.
Into the crashing sound,
into wickedness, she cried,
No one, no, nor no one million
ones dare deny me God. I go forth
alone, and stand as ten thousand.
The Divine upon my right
impels me to pull forever
at the latch of Freedom’s gate.
The Holy Spirit upon my left leads my
feet without ceasing into the camp of the
righteous and into the tents of the free.
From Maya Angelou’s “Our Grandmothers,” in My Soul Is a Witness: African-American Women’s Spirituality, edited by Gloria Wade-Gayles (Beacon Press 1995).