Imago Dei: Black Women and Girls’ Lives Matter

Carla C. Lee

Black women and Black girls are not valued in American society. Our voices are marginalized. We are often invisible. Even as we make strides in the political arena and fight for democracy, our contributions threaten to go unseen. When injustice threatens the Black community as a whole, the injustice committed against Black women is often overlooked. 

Black women’s unjust deaths do not often see the same amount of media coverage and public outrage as the deaths of Black men. Between 2015 and 2020, the police killed nearly 50 Black women. Before the #SayHerName movement, we could not name any Black women killed by the police, so we didn’t.

Black women experience disparities in healthcare, professional development, and wages. Black women are three times as likely to die in childbirth. We make $0.62 for every dollar a white man makes

Not only are Black women invisible, but Black girls are also demonized in the public-school arena. In recent years, school resource officers have kicked, punched, and body-slammed Black girls without restraint or reservation. The New York Times reports that Black girls are the most at-risk student group in the American school system, but school reform measures often overlook this vulnerable population. 

Black women and Black girls’ lives matter. Our experiences matter. American society fails to recognize how our race and gender intersect and uniquely impact us. The American ethos renders Black women and girls invisible. Our invisibility is shameful, but God sees us. 

The story of Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4 is an excellent example of how God sees people on the margins of society. In the story, Jesus recognizes that the woman is unmarried and living in shame. Her position as a member of a marginalized ethnic group (she was a Samaritan) meant that she was probably also invisible to those with power and privilege. But Jesus saw her, and he lifted her up. 

In the same way, Christ seeks to lift Black women and Black girls. The psychological, emotional, and physical violence directed toward us is contrary to God’s nature and character. Black women and girls are made in the image of God. Therefore, we should receive equitable treatment, especially from our siblings in Christ. It is imperative for Christians—all Christians—to honor Black women and girls’ personhood and to see us the way that God sees us. We are made in his image—the imago Dei

When God created us, he did so with precision and intentionality. To deny our personhood is to deny God’s creation. It’s time for Christians to begin to see Black women and girls the way that God sees us and to refuse to participate in our devaluation. It’s time for our siblings in Christ to amplify our voices, recognize the value that we bring to society, and honor us as children of God. 

Black women and Black girls are made in the imago Dei. Our lives matter.