Ekemini Uwan is an acclaimed-writer and public speaker known for her anti-racism work that fuses in theology. Her works have been featured in publications ranging from the Huffington Post Black Voices to Christianity Today. She received her Master of Divinity degree in 2016 from Westminster Theological Seminary. Beyond writing and public speaking, Ekemini Uwan co-hosts the popular Christian podcast for black women by black women, Truth’s Table.
Women of Excellence Series: You’ve gone from being a pharmaceutical sales representative to a professional writer and speaker who touches on the intersection of faith and race. What prompted this career shift?
Ekemini Uwan: It’s a long story, but I went to Cal State Northridge, and post-graduation I worked for Enterprise Rent-a-Car for around 3 years. It was a very taxing job, and I was not making that much money. So, I decided to move on to greener pastures and applied for a job at FedEx as a sales representative; I worked there for 2 years, but that was a very stressful job too.
Soon after, I decided to go into pharmaceutical sales- there’s a good work life balance there with many perks. I finally landed a job and worked there for 3 and a half years. However, the day before my 29th birthday I was laid off. Before that happened, the Lord was preparing me for some sort of shift, but I did not know what it would be or what to do.
So, I started to reach out to people including my mentor. I continued to pray and pray and honestly these were my best times with the Lord. I kept getting the sense that the Lord was calling me to ministry. I figured if that was the case then I needed to go to seminary so that I could get the confidence and tools that are necessary to do ministry properly.
I looked into seminary and eventually settled on Westminster in Philadelphia, a predominately white and conservative school. Frankly, it was a tough environment especially after Trayvon Martin was killed- that really changed things for me. Long story short, my classmates’ reactions to his murder drove me to start writing as a form of anti-racism work.
Women of Excellence Series: You are an accomplished writer with publications featured in the Huffington Post, Christianity Today, and more. Can you briefly touch on your writing process? That is, where do you find sources of inspiration? How do you take an idea and transform it into a published work?
Ekemini Uwan: Typically, it depends. Sometimes an idea will come to me, but usually it is something that I tweeted about or did a thread about it on Twitter. At times, this leads me to write a post based on this.
I write really slowly, though, and I do not enjoy the process of writing. Writing is really hard for me, but I love the end product. I am really critical, I edit as I write, and I’m always thinking. My inspiration can come from social media or it can be the news, as I curate and sift through many articles, in order to find well-researched articles to post. Next, I think about a different angle that I can take on a subject before I write.
The reason it takes so much time for me to write is because I try to think carefully and consider nuances before I write something. My work centers on very important issues, so I have to do it right and consider my audience. Lastly, I really need to think and write with precision because in my writings I’m fusing my points with theology. It has to be accurate with strong takeaways.
WS: Beyond writing, you, along with Michelle Higgins and Christina Edmonson, host a podcast entitled Truth’s Table. Do you mind sharing how this project came about and what it focuses on?
EW: Actually, it was not our idea. It came from Beau York who is the producer of the Reformed African American Network’s podcast called, “Pass the Mic”. He is the producer for theirs and the executive producer for Podastery Studios. He’s an award-winning podcast producer so it’s such a blessing to work with him and RAAN!
The fact is that the podcast market is getting over saturated. My hope is that Truth’s Table will stand out because it is going to be a podcast with 3 black Christian women and is for black women. Black female Christians are often silenced, but we are very vocal and our podcast is about truth telling. Granted, we are not the arbiters of truth, but we are on a journey seeking truth because we have come to know, by the grace of God, the one who is truth, Jesus Christ. We always look to uplift and look too speak the truth wherever we find it- be it sociology, psychology, science, or culture. Essentially, we respond to race, gender, politics, and current events through the lens of our faith and our race.
WS: What advice would you give to young women of color who aspire to intersect their faith with their careers?
EU: I do not think it’s a science. What I do- I fell into it. It is about living out your faith. We are complex beings- embodied souls so we cannot compartmentalize our lives. We try, but we can’t; we live out what we believe. Even in the workplace as a Christian, that will come out. Colossians 3:24 talks about how we are supposed to do our work onto the Lord and not for man. Even when I was working in corporate America, I did not really like my jobs. However, I tried to do my work for the Lord and with excellence. I wanted to be the best that I could be. So we should be conscious of being our best on the job.
WS: Considering the racial climate, we are in, what role do you hope your writings/talks/podcast will play in the ever-going reconciliation process?
EU: It is hard to see what role my writing will play. I hope that people will use my work to challenge themselves on the way they have been conditioned to think about themselves, other people, people of color, and people unlike them. I hope it is something that really convicts people and takes them out of their comfort zones. I also hope that once they realize that with this knowledge they can make changes in their lives and others. It could be to take up the call of activism or talk to their relatives who hold racist views.
With the podcast, I hope it will be similar to what happened with the Black Arts Movement of the mid-60s and mid-70s when black people were taking control of their narrative. In this new Black renaissance that we are in, I hope that our Truth’s Table podcast will provide the black female Christian perspective that is often ignored and left unheard, especially with what’s going on with Christianity in America.
WS: Finally, since you are a writer, I must ask you about content. Can you please name a few of your favorite podcasts/bloggers/writers that you would recommend to those interested in digging deeper into faith and/or race?
- EW: I love Austin Channing Brown: I appreciate her writing; she is very sharp. She does racial reconciliation and intersects race and faith as well.
- Of course, check out my Truth’s Table co-hosts, Michelle Higgins and Christina Edmonson.
- The Atlantic is very helpful- especially Ta Nehisi Coates.
- I like Gene Demby’s work on NPR’s “Code Switch” and his writings on race.
- Lastly, I like Nikole Hannah-Jones who writes about school segregation for the New York Times.
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