Black church kids, more than most, are acutely aware of the stigma, shame and policing that accompanies navigating sex and sexuality; particularly that possessed, or perhaps more accurately put, dispossessed by Black women and girls. Growing up, church for me represented a dynamic, intergenerational, vibrant, safe Black space. Beyond feeling insulated from the ubiquitous nature of white-dominated society, in my most joyous memories, it embodied a cataclysmic thorn in the side of those very systems that most perilously wanted to rob us of our hope and joy.
It was on crowded church stages, in front of eyes beaming full of love and encouragement, that I would first develop the confidence to speak and perform publicly with clarity and boldness. It was in church basements and car parks that I would uncover the real meaning of adventure, fun, childhood romance and the inevitable austere Caribbean discipline that was never far behind. And it was in Sunday School and midweek evening services that seemed to go on for a lifetime where the sparks for lifelong friendships would first ignite.
‘Held’ is how I can describe a consequential portion of my youth in the Black Church.