“Everybody Come Alive” with Marcie Alvis Walker

We are thrilled to have Marcie Alvis Walker, the creator of the popular Instagram feed “Black Coffee With White Friends” and the author of the compelling memoir “Everybody Come Alive: A Memoir in Essays,” as our special guest on this week’s episode of the Allender Center Podcast. Hosting this insightful conversation are Rachael Clinton Chen and Linda Royster from the Allender Center.

Marcie shares a bit about her process of writing her debut book, in which she beautifully shares her unique stories with candidness. She skillfully interlaces the tapestry of her cultural upbringing, along with her personal experiences grappling with various forms of racism, perfectionism, and the complex dynamics with her mother. Get ready to be inspired and moved as we hear a glimpse into her powerful narrative, and be sure to pick up her book, Everybody Come Alive: A Memoir in Essays, available wherever books are sold.

About Our Guest:

Marcie Alvis Walker is the creator of the popular Instagram feed Black Coffee with White Friends. She is also the creator of Black Eyed Bible Stories. Marcie is passionate about what it means to embrace intersectionality, diversity, and inclusion in our spiritual lives. She lives in Chicago with her husband, her college-aged kid Max, and their dog, Evie. Her new book, EVERYBODY COME ALIVE: A MEMOIR IN ESSAYS, is available wherever books are sold.

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Episode Transcript:

Rachael: Well, good people with good bodies. Today I’m delighted to be joined by a beloved guest co-host, my colleague and friend Linda Royster, who in case you need a reminder, is a core leader here at the Allender Center, a gifted teacher, facilitator, advisor, writer, and entrepreneur, and is deeply committed to making sure healing from trauma, especially at our work at The Allender Center, is available, accessible, and relevant to Black people and other racially marginalized folks who bear the brunt of racial trauma. She’s also a gardener, an aunt to two beloved nephews among many other things. Linda, thanks so much for joining me.

Linda: Thank you, Rachael. It’s a privilege to be here and to be in this space with our beloved guest, Marcie Alvis Walker.

Rachael: Yeah, Marcie, thank you so much for being with us today.

Marcie: It’s really an honor. I love the work that the Allender Center does. Actually hosted a lot of Wounded Heart classes when I worked down on church campus, so this is really wonderful for me.

Linda: Awesome, awesome.

Rachael: That’s like a kind of sweet surprise to hear, just it’s always fun to be able to have those connections. So then you’re probably somewhat familiar with the things our audience is aching for and longing for. What I will say about Marcie, again, I know you are a full human, and these bios are always funny because it’s just like a tiny little snapshot, which is why you need to read her book because you can get more insight to all the robustness. But Marcie is a writer. I’ve added a few things. I hope that’s okay. A psalmist, a poet, a prophetess, a historian, a storyteller, and recently published author of her new memoir, Everybody Come Alive. We’re certainly going to be talking more about that today. She’s also the creator of a popular and Instagram feed, Black Coffee with White Friends, which is how I came to encounter Marcie. And she’s a creator of Black-Eyed Bible Stories, which you can access by joining her Substack. Marcie is passionate about what it means to embrace intersectionality, diversity and inclusion in our spiritual lives. She lives in Chicago with her husband, her college aid kid, all college aged kid Max and their dog Evie. And as I was telling you before we started, I have a daughter named Evie. It’s such a great name. I love the name Evie. And before we jump in, I did just want to take a minute to say thank you for bringing your presence so generously to the world. I have greatly just been so deeply impacted by following you on Instagram learning so much, but also feeling so deeply discipled in my own spiritual life. And I don’t take that for granted, and I’m just so deeply grateful for you. So when I heard you were writing a memoir, I was so thrilled. But honestly, because Black coffee with White Friends, you’re bringing a lot of history, you’re bringing your kind of prophetic pastoral presence. I was so grateful for the words you just recently brought about the Southern Baptist Convention because that’s the context I grew up in. And to experience you as a storyteller more and more through your memoir, just so incredibly haunting and beautiful and heartbreaking and yet glorious. And you’ve just painted such an embodied rich tapestry of story like this intersection of trauma and gospel, and it is just full of ache. And I just want to say Holy, Holy, indeed. So I very much look forward to just making more space for this conversation to unfold.

Marcie: That’s first of all, every adjective you added to my little petite resume. So thank you for that. And I really, honestly, hardly know what to say. As I said, I worked at a church that taught Wounded Heart and I worked directly under the therapist pastor, who was in charge of putting those classes together. And my job was to get the emails from the women who wanted to take this class. And I often was having to carry a bit of the story in these emails and watching people be transformed going into this class, meeting them at the door and letting them know that they were going to be safe and that they were going to be in a safe environment. And I was really fortunate to have the kind of boss/pastor that I had. He was the only pastor on the team who didn’t teach from the stage. His work was so much in the community and it’s taught, I think it helped me to create my community with Black Coffee, White Friends, to hold space for people’s stories and to understand that what we see when we think we’re seeing a person, it usually is only a glimmer of the whole full reflection of what a life is. And I’m just so honored to be here because I know where your point of view is coming from with the work that you guys do.

Linda: The honor is felt mutually. I believe that we feel just as honored that you would say yes to being in this space with us. And I, again, navigating my way through your book, and that feels like it was accurate. Whether I was being navigated or you were navigating us through this journey of your story, your family context, the context of the city, of the nation that you lived in. Even the covering the book cover, it takes me back to the sixties, seventies, feel the type letter. I thought, oh, she’s taking me back. And that resonated with me being a seventies baby, early seventies baby. I looked at the book and I immediately felt like, I’m going back. I’m going back to something. And then the references that you gave with the particular music, with the TV shows that you referenced throughout the book, all of those cultural realities that made up Black culture, it took me back. And I could feel both the beauty and as you layered it so beautifully, the beauty and the heartache, the beauty and the goodness of collective community, the beauty and the heartache from being ostracized or isolated or being mocked. So from just, not only the first paragraph, but just looking at the book cover, I thought Marcie’s taken us back someplace that feels really familiar. So deep gratitude. Deep gratitude.

Marcie: I’m so appreciative of that. My husband did that book cover. He’s a graphic designer. He creates fonts. He is just remarkable with the work that he does. And I knew going into, if I ever did a book, I would want him to do the cover. Cause he knows me better than any other designer would know me. But also, he did the Rising Strong cover for Brené Brown. So I was like, I have this right here in my living room, I’m going to use it. And we really did. I’m glad that you picked up on that seventies thing, that feel and context that we wanted to frame the book cover in, because we did a lot of research. I think we both were keeping Pinterest of different ads, album covers, book covers from the seventies that we loved. And we went through and looked at a bunch of different things and decided on basically about five or six different looks that we liked. And I walked away from it, just kind of like, okay, you can do it. And then I remember when he revealed what he had come up with, there are one day I will post on Instagram all the different colors that we picked, but that brown and beige-y, orangey, yellowish. Nothing says the seventies quite like that. I mean, it was in pant suits, kitchens. I mean, it was just…

Linda: Yes. Yes.

Marcie: So I appreciate that you… because it was really important to me to get that right. Yeah.

Linda: Yeah. Well, you set the tone and you said it so beautifully just, and we’re kind of talking about aesthetics, I believe. But as you took us through your journey, part of the story was about aesthetics, what it meant to be in brown skin or lighter skin, and all of the heartache, that privilege, if you will, or lack thereof that came with an aesthetic.

Marcie: Yeah. Yeah. I think often, I used to say this when I had another platform called Mockingbird History, it actually got to the point where I was spending so much time researching history, and I had friends who were doing the work already so I could let it go. But one of the things that I learned during that time of writing about history is how much we don’t think about the context of history and our aesthetic. Like that’s right. Why were we so into those brown, orange avocado greens back in, back the seventies. Why now is it this very white walls and very rustic places that you see? Everyone wants a bathroom that looks like a spa that just really wasn’t, back in the eighties, everyone wanted something opulent. Everyone had those brass things. And it really does speak of the culture because the eighties was about opulence. And right now we all are about self-care and rest. So it makes sense that we have these different aesthetics that speak to us. But also in the book, it was really important for me for, I have read some statistic several times, I’ve come across the statistic and it always blows my mind how many White people don’t have the opportunity to even have a friend of color. They don’t have a friend who is Black. They’ve never been inside of a Black home. And so it was really important for me to make a simple connection just with what kind of magazines would be in my home and what kind of magazines would be in a home of a Black family that’s assimilating and one that is resisting. And my mom was this resistance, and my grandmother was this assimilated culture. And I really wanted there to be this welcome into those homes because I didn’t have a lot of little friends who came over to play at either home for different reasons. In my grandmother’s home, we were that we were a Black family. And so I never had the play dates at my grandmother’s home. I always went to someone else’s home for the play date. And in my mom’s home, because of her mental illness, because she was a divorced single mom back in the seventies and eighties, we had that scarlet letter on our front door. So yeah, the Black children, Black neighbor’s childrens weren’t allowed to come over and play because it was considered, I don’t know if people thought that it was unsafe. I just think, I dunno what they thought would happen if they came over, but I just think there was this, I think it was more of a shunning, honestly. They didn’t want to, in any way seem like they were complicit in my mom’s choices. And many of her choices were not even a choice. They were just things that happened to her. But I need people to understand, back in the seventies, we were all running around free range chickens. Nobody, you know… you got on that bike in the morning. You went however far you needed to go to get into whatever you were going to get into. As long as you were back by the time the streetlight was on, or by the time dinner was going to be served, you were good. So it wasn’t about safety. It was really about not wanting to give my mom the honor of being looked at as also a mother.

Linda: And part of the heartbreak of that. And you wove this in and out of your work so beautifully, the context of personal collective and so constantly taking us in and out of, yes, your mom suffered a mental illness, but it was happening in the context of Black culture and happening in the context of White culture and having this fluid, heartbreakingly fluid interaction between being shunned by Black folk. And then the risk of even further harm if she were to come in contact with White culture in the midst of a psychotic episode, if you will. So no real place of safety in the personal sense in the person, person of, in the narrowness of her community, her neighborhood, or in the larger context of White culture. In the book, it sounded like there are few places of rest and goodness, except in the moments where they’re are doing the hair, getting hair done in the kitchen, and y’all having conversations about who’s dating who and what’s going down or what about to play out. So those beautiful moments where there were moments of rest, but they seem few and far between. I’m wondering if that, is that an accurate reading?

Marcie: I’m sitting here listening to you. Wow, I did that. But yeah, that, thank you. I think it’s an accurate reading for sure. I, there’s a place in the book where I was a kid who was always waiting. I really did have my ear cocked to the wind. I was always waiting for a certain trauma to occur because they were so often, and I couldn’t possibly put them all in a book. I mean not because I don’t think that that would wouldn’t make a good book. It’s just not a place that I would want to be for that long. I just didn’t want to write about that much trauma. But yeah, there were these places. I remember many times something truly horrific may have happened in the home at my mother’s home in particular, and also sometimes my grandparents’ home, but mostly in my mom’s home. And then shortly after people gathering for a meal at that same table where this horrible thing had just occurred. Because I think when I put the narrative together in history, I think in the Black family and the Black community, there is this legacy of being able to be resilient in these very harmful places. And I dunno if it’s a benefit. Cause I think it’s helped us to survive for sure. But it also has not given us enough rest. I mean, I would imagine that, think about the middle passage and you think about these people who come from this and it’s trauma, trauma, trauma, trauma. All across the sea. All across the ocean. They’re just more and more trauma. People literally dying in chains, beside them. The language isn’t there for them to even be able to communicate what is happening. They don’t know where they’re going. And then when they land, there’s no time or space for them to process. They’re immediately put into another work camp plantation situation that is unfamiliar to them. The weather is unfamiliar, the land, the plants, all of it’s unfamiliar and there’s no place of rest. And I kind of feel like in African-American culture, we’ve had so many traumas that didn’t allow us much rest. People got up and went to work the very next day that Dr. King was assassinated. People got up and went to work the day after George Floyd. Well, the essential workers did because it was during the pandemic. And I think about those essential workers having to go to work when the country emotionally is on fire and not having that place of rest. So you’re right, there weren’t a lot of moments of that rest, but the rest is awfully beautiful. When it’s there and everyone’s extremely present in it. One of my favorite traditions in the African-American culture, and I hope people don’t take my Black card from me. I do not know how to play spades. My entire family is a spade playing family. But I don’t, and it’s not my fault. My sister, my oldest sister is 10 years older than me, and the next is nine years. And then my brother’s eight years. And then I have a sister who’s four years older than me, and they just didn’t teach me because I was just this kid. So no one there was teaching me when they learned. I just never had anyone to teach me how to play spades. But I will say that there is no better, not of rest and present, than my mother’s kitchen table and a game of spa. So I wanted to put that into the book. And I tried. I had a lot of start stops. Cause I just couldn’t put in the language on the table, the atmosphere that feels, it feels like it’s a holiday, but it’s not a holiday. And then because there’s food involved with that, there’s drinks involved with that. There’s music involved with that. And its this open gate community because people are coming in and out of the home and there’s having next’s… like, okay, I’ll, I’m up next. You know what I mean? Yeah. I was never up next. Cause nobody taught me how to play spades. I’m glad to have been able to put some of that in there just because I have a family that would read this book and I wanted it not to feel foreign to them.

Linda: Right, right. And I can see how you would struggle to find the words to describe what it feels like to be a part of a spades game or tournament. It is like this holy parenthesis. Where for the moment we would be suspended in time. Protected. Protected. Almost like this force field of protection around us where there is celebration or maybe not celebration, maybe it’s a normative that’s not threatened in that moment of a way of being that’s just like we’re not having to worry about the other stuff. We can just be in this moment.

Marcie: Yeah. Yeah. You almost feel like you’re going to be okay when you walk into someone’s home and you see if there’s a game of spades, you’re just like, oh this… this is good. I’m good. I’m going to be fine here. And I think that might not have been as readily available in other communities for Black people to walk into homes and to feel that you’re immediately understood. I think in my mom’s case, she definitely would not have survived in a very White neighborhood in the same way that she thrived in her neighborhood. And while she was shunned, I don’t think my mother knew she was shunned. We knew as kids that she was shunned. But my mother, bless her, she loved herself so much. I don’t think she could have imagined anyone shunning her. There’s a quote by Zora Neale Hurston saying that she just can’t imagine someone not wanting her company. My mom was exactly like that. She could not imagine that people wouldn’t have wanted to be with her and about her because that was the world that she existed in. We were her children, but we were not the thing that, the reason that she rose in the morning. We just were not.

Linda: Well, there’s so many questions that are, there’s stewing for me. And one, before we move further into the text of what you’ve written, what was it like for you to write this book? I know you mentioned you didn’t want to spend too much time in so many of the stories, but what was it like for you to pen this work?

Marcie: Was as it was a, I’ve used this word maybe too much, but it, it’s the only thing that I can way I can describe it. It was a surprise. I hadn’t thought I would write about my childhood or my young adulthood. I thought I would write more like what I do on Black Coffee and White Friends, which really about me. It’s just me looking at history or looking at current events or looking at the Bible or whatever it is. But I pretty much went into this book contract. The first one that I got. I went in thinking, I’m not going to reveal anything about myself. I’m going to tell the world what I think about it, but I’m not going to, I’m not sharing that. Yeah, exactly.

Rachael: Which I still think would’ve been a good book, but not anywhere near what we got.

Marcie: I was like, I’m ready for y’all to be vulnerable, not me. But as we met, it just became obvious that I needed to write this book maybe for myself, definitely for my family, and certainly for my kid as a legacy of where they come from and how I processed it. So I’d be interested to hear how my kid feels about the book. They haven’t read it, I don’t think. But when they’re ready to read it, because I always say, if you’re a writer, people think that your kids are at your feet listening to your work. They don’t have time for you and your words. And Taylor Swift said it better so… but one day I know that this would be a gift for Max. I certainly wish I’d had similar from my mom.

Rachael: Yeah, yeah. Well, and it’s you. Even one of my, well, honestly, I could not pick a favorite part because I think similar to Linda, it’s just you wrote a book titled to Everybody Come Alive. And the book is so alive, and I have a lot of questions around knowing the stories you did share with us, how have you remained so alive? It just feels like gospel, that that’s true. But you have this little paragraph when you’re talking about in some ways, because you didn’t have the stones of remembrance that you really needed. You know, find yourself and your own kid in a context that’s almost like, how am I in this reenactment in a predominantly White Christian school? And you’re talking about collecting these stones, and I just, you say, “and now every day I carry these stones to my desk and I lay them down in the rivers of letters, essays, Instagram posts, history lessons, liturgies, poems and prayers. Once upon a time, the waters rose to swallow us and bury us at the bottom of the deepest, darkest ocean. The streams carried us on crashing White water waves of the most turbulent rivers. We didn’t think we would make it, but suddenly the water’s parted and we walked on dry river beds, the oceans gathered and we walked on dry land.” This is just so haunting in the, and holy in the way that you are taking this biblical passage, which by the way, I just want to name the ways in which you play with and open the text. Oh, thank you. Thank you, Marcie. Thank you. Oh, but the way you’re taking this kind of text that many of us would be familiar with these Ebenezers, these stones of remembrance, but you are cracking them open in the sense that they’re not, I think we often use them like, oh, we’ve got to tell these good stories, these Whitewashed stories that erase pain, erase suffering, and tell, make God look good. God was faithful. And I feel like the way you have unearthed stones as a gift to Max, but as a gift to so many of us seeing Linda’s face when she’s talking about what she encountered and really just wanting you guys to meet, which is why I’m just trying to stay out of the way today cause I just want you to get to have a rich conversation. But the echoes of collective memory here, but also deeply personal memory and the way our stories hold horror and heartbreak, but also beauty and resilience and that that’s really what stones, these stones are. They tell a complex full story. We remember not just in a way to protect God that denies suffering, but in a way that shows that the suffering is there. And I thought the way in which you so soberly concluded this memoir and so honorably with the sense of lament as I think the true language of hope. It’s just really, to me, it’s just continued to haunt me. And I think it’s left me just so curious because you navigated such distinctly robust worlds. You talk about the split between your worlds and the code switching and this sense of having, watching for storms, anticipating them. And yet you are one of the most sensual writers, like the embodiment of it. And I guess I just, I’ve said a lot, but I just find myself so curious how you have been able to hold it together and weave it together in the way that you have was such embodiment as a part of this journey.

Marcie: That was really lovely. Thank you for all of that really moved by that, I believe, and I could be completely wrong, but I believe that perhaps just maybe all that marginalization that happens, all that oppression that happens, it just makes all the sweeter things of life really, really sweet. I guess I certainly don’t want to say that anyone needs to suffer in order to have a good life, because I heard that my whole entire life.

Rachael: That’s right. No, let’s just get rid of that. Yeah.

Marcie: It was a big eye roll. But what I will say is that I feel that the surrender of power really is a freeing thing. I think the reason that my family is so remarkable to me and such a study, and my sisters were here and my two nephews were here not long ago in Chicago visiting. And I think the fact that my family has never sought power in any way. They’ve sought justice for sure. They’ve sought peace, hope, all those other things, but not power. And I think it has made them far more humane towards the whole of humanity without even really making an announcement about it. They just are. I think that I have not been the same. I have sought power and privilege because I really believe that power and privilege were the things that were going to make my life complete. I found out otherwise the school is a perfect example of me seeking power and privilege. I wanted my kid to have freedom because I saw this child with blonde hair, these beautiful blonde curls running across the campus. But I’ve seen kids with far less economic privilege have that same freedom. It just took me a while to see that there’s one thing to have the freedom without the need of the place of power. And you see that, and a lot of children, particularly children who may have a disability or children who are living in abject poverty, the fact that they will take something and turn it into a toy, there’s this freedom that happens. I think I equated freedom with the school, with institutions. And my family just never did that. My family always seemed to have a clear understanding of what institutions meant and guarded themselves from institutional ideas of power. I was not so lucky. I went a harder way with it trying to assimilate into whatever I needed to assimilate into in order to just touch it a little. And only to find out it’s a hot stove. Totally got burnt. But I feel that I’m learning now how to not hold those things as being so sacred, but to hold the smaller things as being sacred. Words as being sacred. How we say things, why we say things, how we present ourselves in the world as being far more sacred than what the world is asking from us. And I’m, it’s something that I’m just still playing with. I wish I had gotten it younger. I feel, I look at the generation, I look at the Gen Z generation, I feel like they have it more than we did maybe being raised in the eighties and seventies. They don’t seem to chase as much as we do. Maybe we’ve given them that space. I don’t know. But I do feel that it’s different for them. But I was told from a very, very young age that I wanted college-an institution, that I wanted marriage-an institution, that I wanted a 401k. I wanted all these institutional privileges, really. And my mother had none of them. None. And per, I think if there’s any feeling of freedom in the book, it’s pretty much, I think in the moments with her, even when she was in prison, she was free. She felt free, I think because it never occurred to her that the institution held any sort of power over her situation. Even though I remember wanting her so badly during her trial to fight more. But she was very, I don’t have the transcripts any longer. I’ve looked a, I misplaced them, but I had the transcripts to my mother’s trial. And there are just moments where I just, I’m reading it because I wasn’t there. And I’m wanting her to say something more about just wanting her freedom, but she is being free in those moments. There was a time that the prosecutor asked my mom, why wasn’t her bed made if she wasn’t this woman’s lover? And my mom said, well, I wasn’t her lover. But I just got those sheets from JCPenney and they were so pretty. I liked the way the bed looked made. They were beautiful sheets. And as a kid, I’m just going, oh no, you’re not supposed to. But she didn’t have that kind of filter. She just was living her truth. And I was always so worried about her living this truth. But it seems like she lived it. And it seems a far more authentic existence than many people that I know.

Linda: Yeah. Marcie, your mom, she seemed to have been the sacred prophet in your context, a sacred prophet who spoke truth. And it’s not to deify her just to say that she had no places of growth and healing. But the way you talk about her in your work, when I ended the book, my sense was your mom, and out of all the people that you talked about in the book that your mom, my experience of her was that she was sacred prophet, she was Black woman, holy. In your context, the way you framed the book, and yet the framing revealed, that’s precisely how your mom showed up in the stories that you brought to us.

Marcie: Yeah. It’s funny cause I hadn’t seen that until you just said that, but absolutely. And that makes me really happy that she can be seen as that because she certainly was, I have to say she for sure had places of growth, places of where she needed to ask for forgiveness just for herself. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that her faith was extremely real to her and pure and authentic in all of it. Its ways. Even though people didn’t approve of the way that she was having a faith experience, they really wanted her to be so different than she was definitely that person that how they say you can’t clean ’em up and take them to church. My mother was not a person that you were going to just throw a dress on, take her to church, and she would just act the way that you wanted her to act. The fact I gone to church with her, there were so many neighbors, neighbors often invited my mom to church cause everyone was trying to save her. But she was like Shug Avery. She just was not trying to be saved by anyone. And she would go because of her curious side and her curious nature, she’d be like, oh yeah, I’ll go to church with you. But I always was like, man, I used to look at these neighbors and go, you dunno where you’re asking, you don’t want to go to church with you because she’s going to say something embarrassing. She’s going to do something embarrassing. But she wasn’t afraid of God and she had no fear of men, mankind, of humankind. And I think that did give her a sense of autonomy in the world and in my world, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

Linda: But certainly an experience where she is having what the community would deem as an unconventional, if not even heretical, but certainly unconventional experience of God, which in the text, the authentic way that she brought herself, whether she was trying to or not, was refreshing and such an experience of holiness. Right? Not this construction of what a community or religious order deems as holy, but her being human, her being herself. And sometimes it seems defiantly being herself absolutely against the pressure to conform that was so beautiful. And I would imagine so unsettling for so many people that she would feel so free to be herself.

Marcie: Yeah. I don’t know if you guys have read Little Fires Everywhere or if you watched a show, Little Fires Everywhere. But there’s a moment when Mia, the African-American woman in the story says to the White woman who she works for, she confronts her and says, basically, you just, you’re so mad because you can’t be as free as I am, is what she’s saying to her. And it just really bothers you that I don’t feel conform in the ways that you’ve been conforming and that’s making you mad. You’re not really mad at me. You’re resentful of me because you resent the fact that I haven’t worked for, to have what you think everyone should want to have. And I think my mom think a lot of people in my mother’s neighborhood definitely felt that way about her, that they were definitely offended that she didn’t want, in a weird way, a lot of those house moms were afraid that she wanted their husband, but they were also offended that she didn’t. She couldn’t win. Why don’t you think my husband’s worth flirting with? You know? So, she just couldn’t in that sense.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah. She sounds like such a stirring woman to be that, to evoke that kind of envy and hatred. No wonder she didn’t have a safe place with people, but creating a know win situation for her, of course, she couldn’t find a safe place to rest or to settle.

Marcie: Right. Of course. Absolutely.

Rachael: Well, and I think that’s, I just the honor that you bring in, the way you tell your story to so many people, the honor that you bring to yourself, to your mother, to your grandparents, to your classmates, to African-Americans in the United States, to White people. They’re the truth telling with a humanity and a humility is just so powerful. There’s such honor. And so I also hear in your story the ache of little Marcie who is enamored with her mother. And in seasons of life now as an adult crying out to God, why couldn’t she have been more healed so that she could be more available to me as a mama? And this really haunting moment you tell where you’re talking about her having an episode of mania and you’re on the couch and you’re the witness and you’re playing so powerfully with notions of grace and mercy, and you talk about your terror of like, what’s going to happen to me? What dimension is she in? Who am I in that dimension? That’s what I was hearing. And how she had a moment of lucidity where she gets down at your level. At least that’s how I imagine as you’re writing and is like, I’m your mama. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m your mama. And I just kind of felt with you the way you honor her fullness and her humanity and her glory and her holiness and her Blackness and her womanness, and the truth that you wanted your mama to be your mama, like more. But you locate that in a larger story that needs to bear some of the shame of your mom not getting to be your mom. And I think that’s some, one of the things, and I want to honor our time, I want to keep going. There’s so much I want to say and invite you to say more, but I just, Linda, and it was such a no-brainer that of course you needed to be a part of this podcast because you are someone who’s discipling me and teaching me and telling me there are stories that are not being told or not being reflected that don’t, people aren’t being given the language or the imagination. The story isn’t big enough. It’s not telling my story, it’s not telling my people’s story. It’s not telling the larger dynamics story. And I experienced both of you as women who so faithfully tell a bigger story, a big enough story, but with such embodiment and particularity. And again, I hear you say, yes, there was some intentionality to that and not in any way that that’s required of you, but it’s what you’re doing. And I would imagine there are many people, Linda, you’ve already named, you’re one of them. I can say I’m one of them even though this story is not centered on me. And I’m grateful for that. That can say, I’m finding myself in the stories that you’re telling and thank you for that is a labor of love. That is a labor of blood, that’s kind of writing in blood. And Linda, I’m not, I any, yeah, words you’d want to, yeah, sure. We have a little bit of time, but I want to make sure we bring things to a close and honor your time, Marcie.

Linda: Yeah, Black. Woman. Holy. That that’s a frame that held me through this book. And it’s a refrain that I think needs to be shouted from the rooftop, Black. Woman. Holy. We’re often not seen as holy. We’re often seen as less than whatever the category is, the least, the lesser. But to frame a book, whether you consciously or subconsciously framed it that way, but for that to be the primary message that Black woman, you’re holy. And what you’re also doing is that you reframing the reality of what it means to be resilient. Cause resilient isn’t just pulling up your bootstraps, toughening up and moving forward. That’s not true resilience. But I think being able to lament, being able to pause for a moment and weep and wail and grieve what has been the story. Allowing space to pause for a moment, to feel the depth, to not have to be at a table where trauma happens in the morning and then two hours later be the table where dinner is happening. And there’s no mention of the horror that just happened to hours ago. That’s not necessarily being resilient, that’s having a capacity to compartmentalize, that’s having to have the fortitude to move forward. But your invitation through this work is having us think about what does it mean to lament. And I absolutely love the chapter that you have written. I think it was chapter 12, the Dark Side of Mercy, and what you are inviting us to think about and reconsider in your work. So I’m deeply, deeply grateful that you’re bringing our stories to the forefront and you’re telling the truth of our stories. And I know that there were so many layers that you could have gone so many more stories. But the work that you have, so I can’t think of a better word than Holy, the work that has been so framed with such aoly invitation that you have indeed invited us back to ourselves. You’ve invited us to go back and you are aware of the Sankofa bird, which is very meaning is to go back and get it. You have invited us to go back to the stories and rethink.

Marcie: I really appreciate all of this. It’s been such a beautiful journey. Never knew I would write this story or write about my life in this way, but it has given me life and, I’m always really struck when people can find themselves in it. Cause that was my big hope from Rachael to Linda, that people would be able to find themselves in the story. One of the things I said in a meeting with my publishers is that I wanted, particularly those who felt like they were the only ones or have been the only one in a room, the only Black person or the only mixed race person, or the only my husband was the only English boy in a Texas school, the only trans person in a room. Because I think that room looks really different when we’re able to see from that perspective. And it actually can be a more generous room if we allow ourselves to see from the perspective of the person who’s the only one.

Linda: And isn’t that germane to our culture when we’re operating in our highest selves, is that there is space for multiple voices at the table. And it’s not just that one voice at the top that knows all that is all, but it’s a round table where all are welcome.

Marcie: Absolutely. I couldn’t say that any more beautifully than what you just said. That was gorgeous. Yes.

Rachael: And in fact, you close your book reminding people that although you’re grateful, they’re reading you and joining you in your community, that they need to grow. They need to grow a bigger table too. And I just want to say, remind people that they can find you on Instagram at Black Coffee with White Friends. They can join your Substack for Black-Eyed Bible stories. They can get your book, I’m sure at multiple bookstores. But I would maybe encourage you, especially as we just had Juneteenth and all that federal holiday is and holds and complexity that maybe you could find a black-owned bookstore to buy the book from. But so grateful for you, Marcie, for your presence, for your integrity. And I just mean that in holding the disparate parts together. Such faithfulness, such generosity. And I’m really glad that the two of you had have had an opportunity to meet.

Linda: Absolutely. Absolutely. Such a privilege. And I do mean that a privilege to sit with you and to share in this moment around things that feel so similar, different, distinct, but similar and familiar. And to be able to hold laughter. But I know that we’re also holding tears to, and that’s been a privilege. A privilege. Thank

Marcie: Thank you. Thank you so much.