I’m Pentecostal. Furthermore, I’m Church of God In Christ or COGIC for those of you familiar with the acronym. We’re considered Evangelical Christians, and nine times out of ten, you’ve enjoyed the music from our members, and the acting of some of them too. Denzel Washington is COGIC and I’ve been in the same room with him more often than I’d like to admit. But I digress. Being COGIC means that I’ve been privy to seeing a multitude of hats adorning the heads of some great women. Most of those hats will rival anything that you can bring against them. Think Kentucky Derby, or a Royal wedding. We’re game.
Our International Convocation is this year, and I love going. I love worshiping with the saints of God, and I love the fellowship of seeing all of the people that I don’t get to see enough of in general. It’s almost exactly the same as a blog conference, except with a heavy focus on worship, and I’m here for it.
I recently threw my hat into the ring (see what I did there) and became a card carrying member of the COGIC hat crew. I love me a good hat, but it took a while for me to get there. It started with a gold cloche that I borrowed from my grandmother for Easter 2011. After that, I was hooked, and while my hat collection is still very small, I still enjoy calling up my granny and asking if there is a hat that I can borrow to carry that honor.
One of the things that I’ve loved most about being COGIC, outside of the fact that our worship is off the chain fantastic, are the hats that the women wear with such royalty. Sure, most people on the outside see it as a HUGE fashion show, and yes, some of the hats are just ridiculously large, but when done right, you can NOT beat a COGIC woman wearing a crown. If you think you can, I challenge you to try. Have you ever seen someone wear a hat and still get their praise on. Happens in church all of the time. We know how to praise honey! Even if the hat flies off of our head during that praise, I’m willing to bet bottom dollar that someone is going to make sure that your hat doesn’t stay on the ground too long.
I especially want to highlight the women that I’m related to. My mom, my Granny, and my Granny Blackburn. Baby, they WEAR some hats and in the case of my Granny Blackburn, she could wear one too. I remember being a kid and wondering when I would be old enough to wear a hat and look as regal as they did. However, when I did reach the age of being able to wear the crown, I shied away from it. I felt like I was playing dress-up. Like a little kid. It took me until I was thirty to wear my first “church hat” and I had to do so with the support of a friend from church. We formed a bond through bringing church hats back to the younger crowd and decided that we would make it regal again. We did. And I’m not saying that to brag, we really brought back the love of hats in our church that was only home to elderly hat wearers.
To me, our pride often lies in things that most people don’t look to much into. There is something so amazingly fierce about a black woman in a hat. I know that someone will see this sentence and automatically bristle. This isn’t saying that other women of different races don’t look fantastic in a hat, but given that during the days of slavery, sometimes the only individuality and ownership of something that women could show was through their hats, I think it’s a big deal, and I consider it an honor to carry that banner. It was a way for us to feel human, and beautiful, and worthy, and like the Queens we have always been.You know, Pantsuit Nation is a thing now, and I understand how certain women want to embrace that. Unfortunately, black women weren’t given the right to vote with the Suffragettes. We still had to listen to what other people planned for us. Their desires. While still wearing our crowns, and keeping our peace on Sundays.
I think that with today being such an important day for America (oh GOD is it important) maybe we should wear what we wore on our one day of “freedom” from the fields. Our church hats. I know that some of you don’t have any, but I bet your moms, aunts, and grannies do.
There are days that I feel like that little girl looking in amazement as her mama adjusted her crown, hoping and wishing that I look as magnificent as she does. Then there are days that I adjust the crown on my head and catch that glimmer of hope from my own daughters.
As I gather all of the clothes for the family for our visit to St. Louis this week, I’m reminded just how much weight the crown of my ancestors carries. This isn’t a weight that’s a burden. It’s one that allows our necks to hold up all of the pride we can muster. The joy in being able to worship the way that we want. VOTE the way we want. The knowledge of how far we come, and how we’ve always maintained control of our situations. Whether that comes from a hat or a hymn, I’m just proud to be in the number.