Danté Stewart is a writer and speaker whose works have been featured on Christianity Today, The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, Fathom Magazine, and Faithfully Magazine. Visit him at dantecstewart.com and @stewartdantec.
Posts By This Author
When Everything Feels Fragile
The earth quakes. It rumbles. It trembles, sort of like a roar, a shiver. I didn’t see it; I’ve never experienced it, but I heard the news. “1,900+ Haitians are believed to be dead,” the faint voice of the news reporter says over my car radio, “and hundreds are believed to be missing.”
Another headline reads: “The latest on Afghanistan as Taliban take charge.”
Another: “13-year-old Mississippi girl dies of COVID-19.”
Our Bodies Remember
I recently spoke with a good friend who was in the gospel choir with me at Clemson University. He sang. I played drums. During our time there — in between meals and practice and concerts — we felt the suffocation. That suffocation was in between the Black gospel choir and white Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings, between Black Clemson and white classes. It was not the type of suffocation that kills you; it was the kind that smiles in your face and puts arms around your shoulders and waves hands in praise and sways your body side to side while never getting rid of slaveholding names and memories and theologies. It was the type of suffocation that enjoys the feeling of your presence but fails to embrace the fullness of your humanity.
Witnesses to the Miracle of Blackness
Our stories — and our futures — are the ways we have stood up for what’s right and kept on living when dreams were deferred, hopes unrealized, lives lost, and bodies wearied, and our hearts beating fast as our feet moved across red carpets in old churches rejoicing that we are given of life. These stories are our shining joy. They have become gospel to a people bent and broken.
Radical Endurance Is Forged in the Fire
“To be loved, baby, hard, at once, and forever, to strengthen you against the loveless world. Remember that: I know how black it looks today, for you. It looked bad that day, too, yes, we were trembling. We have not stopped trembling yet, but if we had not loved each other none of us would have survived. And now you must survive because we love you, and for the sake of your children and your children’s children.”
— James Baldwin,
The Fire Next Time
I ENTERED THE doctor’s office, met by the smiling face of the receptionist. “May I help you?” she asked, as I tried to maneuver my lips to smile to cover how terrible I was feeling. “I need to get tested.” She didn’t ask me what test I needed, or where I had come from, or what I was feeling. She checked me in and pointed me to the waiting area—a cold and lonely and familiar place.
I wondered if they knew how terrified I was for me, for my wife, for my son, for our baby not here yet. I wondered if they knew that my body was on fire, that my mind kept alternating between anger and regret for letting my friend in the house with no mask. I wondered if they knew how my stomach emptied the chopped carrots, old celery, and the warm chicken noodle soup into their clean toilet.
“Danté Stewart,” the nurse called out to me, “right this way.” I could hear my heartbeats through my ears as I took the steps through the cold and lonely and familiar clinic. She called in the other nurse. They took my pulse. They put the little white and blue device with the red numbers on my left middle finger. 97. Good. 106 bpm. My heart is racing. As I felt the blood pressure cuff tighten its grip on my arm, the nurses gave that look.
Their Lives Are Defended. Ours Are Ruined
I have tried to find ways to speak about this country and its failure — failures that we have tried to preach about and write about and pray about; failures we sometimes try to ignore to salvage what little peace human beings can be afforded. This week, I witnessed the same terror so many of us did. I witnessed it all, and I am afraid, and I am angry.
Christian Unity Isn't Possible While White Supremacy Rots the Foundation
In America, too many white Christians say the solution to racism is public acts of prayer and unity while they simultaneously deny the enduring power of white supremacy and their complicity in it. As recently as last month, a high-profile Southern Baptist seminary decided to offer $5 million of their $89.7 million endowment to scholarships for Black students while holding on to the racist narrative, legacy, and structure of their slaveholding founders. As Joseph Gerth in the Louisville Courier Journal points out, pollster Robert P. Jones calls this “the White Christian Shuffle” — white Christians publicly engage in acts of charity while simultaneously holding on to the white supremacist rot that lays at the foundation.
Don't Believe The Lie: The Black Freedom Struggle Never Ended
For many today, the Black freedom struggle has become a myth. Our ancestors are memorialized in their death while crucified in their life. For many, it has become a symbol of progress: a symbol of the progress of America, particularly white America, to finally “get it.” It is a powerful myth.
In Search of a Better Country
The phrase "Black Lives Matter," like Joseph’s request to take his bones wherever his people go, is to keep memory alive. To keep it alive is to fight for us when we can't fight for ourselves. It is to remind us that though our world may forget us, there is One who does not. So even as people shout loud “look how much progress this country has made; be grateful,” we understand that, as Angela Davis writes, “freedom is a constant struggle.”
The Tipping Point: From Sympathy to Solidarity
Today, we must realize that because someone is aware of the struggle for black freedom in America doesn’t mean they have been moved to action. They may have the right language — even write books, give addresses, give statements — but their actions show a commitment to the status quo rather than social justice.
Black Rage in an Anti-Black World Is a Spiritual Virtue
I can remember when it first happened — when my dungeon shook and my chains fell off. I had recently gone through a horrible experience and felt there was nowhere to turn, no one who could give voice to my ache, my pain, and my rage.
Solidarity Is the Soil of Lament
Easter Sunday is coming. But Saturday is here and it's dark.