Poet Kristen Harper confronts and unpacks the language, imagery, buzzwords, and cultural touchstones that reinforce white supremacy culture and invites readers to radically transform their perceptions of blackness.

Product Code: 6606
ISBN: 9781558968684
Publisher: Skinner House Books
Pages: 136
Size: 8.5 x 5.5
Published Date: 06/01/2021
Availability:In stock
Price: $14.00

Too often in U.S. culture—and notably in faith communities—a culture of white supremacy is reinforced in damaging but unexamined ways. In The Darkness Divine, minister and poet Kristen L. Harper confronts and unpacks the language, imagery, buzzwords, and cultural touchstones that demean and dehumanize Black people but are so commonplace they can easily escape notice.

More importantly, in a brilliant arrangement of essays and poems in the vein of Claudia Rankine, Harper lifts up the strength, beauty, and resilience of Black people and outlines a path forward. She invites readers to explore what they have learned and assimilated so they might de-center whiteness and stretch their understanding and imagination to radically transform perceptions of blackness.

While directed at her own Unitarian Universalist tradition, The Darkness Divine is a powerful and loving challenge to all those committed to the work of dismantling white supremacy.

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1. Say It Loud, “I’m Black and I’m Proud!”

2. A Theology of Darkness

3. I Found God Inside Myself—and She’s Black

4. Anger, Anxiety, and Finding A Voice

5. I, Too, Am Beautiful

6. I Am Not Your Homegirl

7. Identity Politics and Oppressive Language

8. Quotas, Affirmative Action, and Political Correctness

9. The Greatest Trick: Internalized Oppression

10. Perseverance, Resistance, and Hope

“I have been writing poetry for most of my life. For me, poetry is the language of the heart. It allows me to pour from my soul the experiences, emotions, and thoughts I would otherwise inarticulately try to explain. The poetry in this book explores new visions of blackness and darkness; it challenges readers to look at things differently, to recognize where they contribute to or are affected by racist language; it provides a peek into the struggles of Black and brown communities, and lifts up the beauty, resilience, and defiance of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC). These poems attempt to provide some of the context and history that sparked their creation.”

The Darkness Divine is a compelling invitation into the truth of a strong Black woman minister’s life. It is also a prayer of hope and a petition for change. The personal stories, history, and analysis speak to both the head and heart. It is Rev. Kristen L. Harper’s poetry, however, that is the real gift, where the truth of her spirit is to be found. Her affirmation of Blackness is constant, fueled not by anger but by truth—it rests on holy ground.
The work of dismantling the culture of white supremacy needs to be matched with support for the truth of our lives. Many people will find that the truth of Rev. Harper’s life will speak to the truth of their own. Rev. Harper writes of her pain, but The Darkness Divine is ultimately a journey toward a life that can be danced, a life in which we all can thrive.”
—Rev. William G. Sinkford, editor of To Wake, To Rise: Meditations on Justice and Resilience

The Darkness Divine is an invitation to new ways of seeing and thinking. It calls on readers of all backgrounds to wrestle with confounding questions and have painfully honest conversations with themselves. It requires us to spend more time in reflecting than in reading and to be willing to accept discomfort on the road to growth. But give it your time and it will give you reasons to be hopeful.“
—Rev. Dr. Mark D. Morrison-Reed, author of Black Pioneers in a White Denomination, The Selma Awakening, and Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy, among others

“By reimagining the language of darkness and asking provocative questions like ‘What if God were a brown woman?’ and ‘Would you have us erase the soul of the blues?’ Rev. Kristen Harper offers a loving challenge to her faith, Unitarian Universalism. She weaves a heartbreaking and hopeful story that begins hundreds of years ago in Africa and continues in the walls of even progressive congregations today.
Reading this beautiful and unfalteringly honest book, I felt called into both accountability and reverence. Even when the content was emotionally challenging, the beauty and precision of the language drew me to continue, to savor every word and to learn each lesson in the depths of my heart. I didn’t even know how much wider my theology and soul could be opened by phrases like ‘dark mother,’ ‘glorious blackness of creation,’ and ‘blue-blackness of night’s expanse.’
The questions and exercises threaded throughout the book offer us an opportunity to add our own thoughts and experiences to this exploration of identity, blackness, theology, and language. None of us are separate from the conversation; we are part of it, drawn in even more fully by the evocative questions she poses.
This book should be required reading for any congregation that hangs a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner on their door.”
—Rev. Kate Wilkinson, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Provincetown, Massachusetts

"A challenge to white-centric people to see the world and God in beautiful blackness and brownness."
—Jon M. Sweeney, author of Thomas Merton: An Introduction to His Life, Teachings, and Practices
To read the full review in Spirituality and Practice, click here.

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