My parents and sisters are all Jehovah’s Witnesses. Like ride or die. My father is an elder in the religion. Elders are the patriarchal heads of any given congregation vested with the authority to judge on God’s behalf and teach folks their understanding of God’s revelation to man. My mama is a pioneer, which basically means she preaches, literally, more hours than Jesus walked among us and my two sisters have dedicated their lives to the faith. I can often be founding talking enormous shit about the faith…but, honestly, I’m proud of my upbringing. Walking up to and talking strangers since age three made it so that I never meet a one. Slanging Watchtowers and giving public talks has made it so that I feel comfortable talking to just about anyone, in front of anyone, about anything. My mother taught me how to sew, cook, clean, work, file taxes, and what forgiveness looks like. She also taught me unconditional love for God and sacrifice for her man. I am made in her image.
Around about 20 years of age, I realized that being a Jehovah’s Witness wasn’t the route for me. Actually, if I am telling the truth…it was decided for me at the age of 20 that I was unrepentant for the act of premarital sex…which ironically actually made me unrepentant. As such, I decided that organized religion of any sort was not for me. My thought was that the judgement of those who felt they knew my heart, despite my confession, words and actions; was not reflective of God. So, I was done and remained non-denominational for eight years.
At the end of the eight years, I was introduced to Islam, like a lot of sisters are, by a man. In my case, though, the FOI married me, didn’t try to change me and we’re still together nineteen years later. I met him when I was still with my ex-boyfriend. No, I didn’t cheat. He was my friend. Then and now, he teaches me so much about myself through our successes and failures. He got his X like Malcolm and together we have tried to build a life on the principles of freedom, justice and equality.
The thing about Islam that made me want to take shahada/recite was that, as it was taught to me, it was about striving to submit your will to God’s. That I could get with and still do. Perfection is not required. Because it ain’t remotely possible. God be Knowing. I love this concept. It really isn’t just in Islam, though. It’s literally in every religion, you know, the whole don’t judge piece. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is John 8 when Jesus is literally saying he has even sinned…cuz he ain’t throw no stone either. But for some reason, when we find God, in what ever shape we see The Divine…we sometimes forget our own imperfections. Until God humbles us, that is…then we want all the mercy.
One day I was listening to a lecture and a minister was talking about who people pride themselves in being ratchet. I sat with it for a second and of course thought he was talmbout me. Whether he was or wasn’t…that was the impetus for this piece. I love claiming ratchet, trifling, and other disparaging adjectives for one reason and one reason only. I am who I am. And sometimes that’s ratchet. However, I am also intelligent, a self defined success, gorgeous, giving, intuitive, and so much more…and I claim those too. I say I’m ratchet cuz sometime we want to get into respectability politics and act as though we can’t be all of the above, even if we’re striving to be what we define as better. Just cuz we wear a hijab don’t mean we don’t wear thongs. Just cuz we are saved don’t mean we don’t listen to/are/or have been SZA on the weekend. Just cuz you don’t cuss don’t mean you ain’t using the hard shower mode or vaseline. We are human. Beautifully flawed. Learning as we go along.
I think sometimes we make God unaccessible for folks. All the holy books are filled with examples of things that could be defined as ratchet. All. Of. Them. So, to remove ourselves so far from error is to set, not only ourselves up for failure and disappointment, but also those who take encouragement from our example. I believe that’s why the ratchetness is left in tact in scripture for us to learn from. To be like yo, if this dude denied Jesus three times and still gets love in the bible…I can’t be that bad. Like, for real Moses literally killed someone and bounced. I ain’t killed nothing but that bag of hot Cheetos! Abraham had a knife to his own child’s neck…but, is the father of all monotheistic religion. Rahab has been classified as a prostitute for centuries, cuz patriarchy…whole ‘nother blog…but is revered because she helped Joshua scope out the promised land. When I see success through imperfection, I am inspired. When I see God come through for literally everyone…from the adulterers to the virgins…I get mad sometimes, especially if it ill effects me…but can’t deny seeing the Divine in it…even in my own pain and struggle…The Divine is always present, because The Divine dwells in me.
So, I will always point out my flaws and celebrate my successes…whether its #RatchetMuslim #RatchetCEO #RatchetProgramOfficer #RatchetWife #RatchetMomma #RatchetMentor #ThatProverbs31Chick #DopeAssWife #NotYoAverageProgramOfficer #Wendy or whatever because these are all a part of me and maybe, just maybe my imperfections will inspire somebody to work on their own relationship with The Divine. And if not…at least I am ok with who I am…and me and The God will chop it up about my behavior when we meet. -HM