In a vivid personal essay for Kweli Journal, author Jodi M. Savage writes about growing up in New York City with her Pentecostal evangelist grandmother. The church gives their family a community to belong to and allows the narrator’s grandmother to build a life of leadership and influence.  But it could also be stifling and punishing for the women of its congregation. The author figures out how to honor her grandmother’s memory while bearing witness to the church’s limitations.

Granny raised me on mustard greens, hot water cornbread, and a super-sized portion of Jesus. Although I mastered the Rubik’s cube of rules for sanctified living, religion robbed me of my voice and left shame in its place. You could say that it all started with my teenage neighbor Bobby.

When I was a kid, I let Bobby paint my fingernails red. I knew it was a sin by Pentecostal standards…

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