In Parable of the Brown Girl (Fortress, Feb.), Adams presents seven portraits of black girls and women that address societal barriers and challenges from a Christian perspective.
You state in your introduction, “These girls’ stories are important to God and they deserve attention.” What drew you to them originally?
The girls have so much wisdom and so much passion. They have handled the challenges gracefully and are able to find joy in every circumstance. One of the reasons I say specifically that they are important to God is because it is a statement that unfortunately has to be said. We sort of know in the back of our heads, “Oh, all people are important to God.”—but for me it is really important to be intentional and say, “These girls specifically are important to God.”
Why did you decided to structure the book as a set of parables?
As a minister, I have always been particularly drawn to the gospel parables. It is where Jesus’s life is laid out, as well as his most crucial teachings. My thought was, “What if one of these girls were in one of these parables? What would the parable be called?” There is the parable of the unjust servant; every one has title that is very illustrative of the person central to the lesson. I immediately started thinking about what parables would center on these girls. I realized I have learned so much from them, and that I have pulled from them in ways that I have pulled from Jesus and how he taught his parables.
You speak a lot to “being made in God’s image.” How do you think that helps in finding and accepting one’s own identity?
I don’t think that black girls hear enough that they specifically are the image of God. So I think it’s not just enough to say that once to them. It is important to continually say that statement over and over again. It’s not just for black girls, but that we also need to see each other and our neighbors as made in the image of God. And literally taking that seriously to encourage ourselves to change how we interact, how we behave toward others.
Did you write the book for a specific audience?
It was really important for this to be a book that people didn’t look at and think, “Oh, that’s for black people. I can’t read that.” I tried to meet the challenge of writing about a certain demographic without the work being exclusively geared toward that particular demographic. I want everyone to be able to learn something from these girls.