Courtney Hall Lee

Courtney Hall Lee is a freelance writer and attorney. She co-hosts the "Dovetail" podcast, a show about the intersections of faith, culture, and social justice. Courtney is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned her law degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is now pursuing graduate studies at Hartford Seminary.

Courtney's first book Black Madonna: a Womanist Look at Mary of Nazareth is forthcoming from Cascade Books. Courtney is a contributor at and her work has appeared at RELEVANT. A northeastern girl adjusting to southern life in Charlotte, N.C., she lives with her husband, daughter, and toy poodle. You can find her on Twitter @courtrhapsody and at

Posts By This Author

Grocery Store Inequity

by Courtney Hall Lee 02-23-2017
Why fresh food is often a scarce commodity for low-income people.

FOOD DESERTS ARE low-income areas in urban or rural locations whose populations lack easy access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other whole foods, usually because of lack of easy access to supermarkets. In 2010, the USDA reported that 18 million Americans live in food deserts, meaning more than a mile from a supermarket in urban/suburban areas and more than 10 miles in rural areas.

While suburban shoppers have more choices than ever, urban and rural Americans often lack access to quality food choices.

Karen Gonzalez, a church and community engagement specialist in Baltimore, works with immigrant populations. “For our clients, the challenge is that they work a lot, often two jobs, so getting to the grocery store and then cooking is a challenge,” says Gonzalez. “The other issue is that there are only two grocery stores in that part of town, and one of them is in the gentrified district—a Whole Foods. So clients often end up in bodegas or convenience stores, which have limited options and are more expensive.”

Food deserts in rural regions naturally raise different problems than those in urban areas. It is unsurprising that supermarkets are farther from people’s homes, but it can be overlooked that some rural low-income people do not own or have direct access to cars.

“Driving down a two-lane highway in rural Nebraska last spring, I passed a Native American man riding an old bicycle toward the nearby Omaha Indian Reservation,” wrote Steph Larsen on “We were at least seven miles from the nearest town, and he had four grocery bags bulging with food slung over his handlebars as he worked to climb a hill. I’ll bet a week’s worth of groceries that he wasn’t biking for the exercise.”

When Did Christians Become Comfortable with the Loss of Truth?

by Courtney Hall Lee 02-15-2017

 Michael Flynn at a campaign rally for Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix. by Gage Skidmore /

In the wake of Michael Flynn’s resignation from national security adviser and inconsistent timelines of the Trump team’s interaction with Russian officials, many are rightly asking questions about national security and election integrity. The administration’s reaction has been outrage over leaks within the intelligence community — even though Trump himself celebrated Wikileaks releasing the DNC’s hacked emails during the campaign season, even going as far as to egg Russia on to find Hillary Clinton’s emails. This all points to a clear lack of transparency and culture of dishonesty from the Trump administration. 

The Word of the Year Is 'Post-Truth.' Let's Make Sure That Doesn't Happen Again.

by Courtney Hall Lee 11-18-2016

Image via  /

In the months leading up to the election, president-elect Donald Trump asserted many fabrications as truth, including: that President Obama founded ISIS (with help from Hillary Clinton); that President Obama was not born in the United States; that climate change is a Chinese hoax; and that thousands of Muslims danced in the New Jersey streets after 9/11.

Mr. Trump is not the only one to take liberties with the facts. Fake news on all sides proliferated during the election season: Twenty fake news stories outperformed the top 20 real news stories in the last three months of the election.

50 Years Later, Why Are Black Churches Still Under Attack?

by Courtney Hall Lee 09-15-2016

Image via Thomas J. O'Halloran/Wikimedia Commons.

My prayer for the next 50 years is that the church can find the Gospel and put it first — ahead of race, class, nationalism, gun rights, and any other worldly divisions that place God's people in danger; and to recognize that apathy toward any of God’s people is a sin. As Christians, we owe it to the four Birmingham girls and the Charleston Nine to band together, to fight against allowing another hate crime within the walls of a holy space again.

Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and All the Women

by Courtney Hall Lee 08-19-2016

Roger Ailes (left) public domain, and Donald Trump via Joseph Sohm /

Perhaps, given Trump’s recent comments regarding workplace harassment of women, this alliance shouldn’t come as a surprise. He recently stated that he believes women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace should seek remedies within the company or ultimately quit the job if necessary. “I would like to think she would find another career or another company if that was the case,” Trump told USA Today when speaking about his daughter Ivanka hypothetically experiencing harassment.

Weekly Wrap 5.20.16: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

by Courtney Hall Lee 05-20-2016

1. The Sour Lemonade Review
Ebony Magazine writer Jamilah Lemieux gives her insightful take on prolific black feminist bell hooks’ controversial and critical review of Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade.’ Is the newest wave of feminism drifiting away from the ideology of their predecessors?

2. Jane the Virgin, the Book of Ruth and Latina Identity
Karen Gonzalez considers the complexities of Latina identity on TV. The Virgin, the Bombshell, the Maid…How does a real-life Christian Latina respond?

3. Suicide Rates are Alarmingly High
May is Mental Health awareness month and these suicide statistics are causing talk of a national health crisis. What is it about today’s world that is leading to this upsurge in suicide?

4 Things 'LEMONADE' Teaches Us About Black Womanhood

by Courtney Hall Lee 04-25-2016

Still from HBO's LEMONADE. Via Facebook.

With the April 23 release of LEMONADE, Beyoncé’s full-length visual album, I am convinced more than ever that “Formation” served as voice crying out on the internet, paving the way for even more conversations about the mistreatment, invisibility, and spiritual essence of black women.

What's at Stake in the Upcoming Baltimore Mayoral Race

by Courtney Hall Lee 04-07-2016

As a black person who has lived and worked in struggling cities like these for most of my adult life, I know that the stakes are high in Baltimore. As a black mom, I will have to teach my child what to do if stopped by the police, even though I have no fear that she will ever commit a crime. As the wife of a black man, I wonder if he will be hassled by the police for shoveling our driveway. As a parent who chose to move to the city to give our child the opportunity to have peers who look like her, I know that I am blessed with choices and resources. For those who lack choices and resources, effective leadership is even more crucial.

Black Lives — Not Just Black Votes — Matter

by Courtney Hall Lee 03-04-2016

Image via /

Does it make sense for Hillary and Bernie to court the black vote? Absolutely. I am not troubled by their clamor to win our support. What is truly disheartening is that our support does not ensure racial progress. No one candidate should be held responsible for fixing America’s race problem. But what black voters want is a candidate who is brave enough to say that America has a serious race problem.

While both candidates have put some effort in to this message, for both candidates it was only after they faced protest by Black Lives Matter activists. It was only when the media asked them directly if Black Lives Matter that they answered in the affirmative. 

Beyoncé and the Next Great Awakening

by Courtney Hall Lee 02-14-2016

Rev. Michael Piazza is well known for developing Dallas’s Cathedral of Hope, the first predominantly LGBT church in the country. The Cathedral of Hope grew from a store-front church into a megachurch with a message of inclusivity, love, and justice. I am taking a class taught by Rev. Piazza this semester, and with us he recently shared a compelling insight. Rev. Piazza believes that America will have another Great Awakening. 

I think that the time for that awakening could be right now, and Beyoncé’s documentary does a stellar job of showing us why.