Ain't I a Womanist, Too?
Third Wave Womanist Religious Thought
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
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Title Page, Copyright
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This volume started as a small idea in an article I began writing in 2004 in the midst of lively conversations with Karen Baker-Fletcher about black feminism and womanism. The conversations took form in my essay, “Must I Be Womanist?” in...
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Womanism stands out as a liberatory spiritual praxis because of the depth to which it honors the personal spiritual journey. In the early twenty-first century, we find ourselves at a place where, if popular polls can be believed, at least in the United States of America, large segments of the population have rejected traditional, mainstream religious adherence in favor of various hybrids of spiritual belief...
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Victor Anderson is John Frederick Oberlin Theological School Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Beyond Ontological Blackness: An Essay on African American Religious...
Introduction: Ain’t I a Womanist Too?
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In her now famous 1851 speech at the Akron, Ohio women’s rights gathering,Sojourner Truth critiqued the default understanding of womanhood with herpoignant question, “And ain’t I a woman?” Sojourner Truth noted the waysthat the work and lives of enslaved black women departed from the Victorianstandards of piety, purity, submission, and domesticity—more commonly...
PART I Religious Pluralism
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1 Muslim Marriage
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The social and theological dynamics peculiar to the reality of African American Muslims continue to influence how they marry and organize their households. Indeed, the peculiarities of black life in America have historically distinguished the lived experiences of these Muslims from other practitioners of Islam regardless of their nationality...
2 From Mistress to Mother
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Mother Tynetta Muhammad had been one of the numerous secretaries of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (d. 1975) with whom he was engaged in what was interpreted at the time as extramarital relations.1 Her status over the last four decades, however, has been transformed from putative “mistress” to one who is now seen as the..
3 Nature, Sexuality, and Spirituality
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Mu, Earth Mother, is an indigenous1 goddess in Chinese spiritual tradition. I am unable to find an English term that is the exact equivalent of “Di Mu.” The English term “Earth Mother” is closest to the meaning of “Di Mu.” In Chinese, the term for mother is “mu qin.” The character “mu” in “Di Mu” is the same character...
PART II Popular Culture
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4 Is This a Dance Floor or a Revival Meeting?
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I join with womanist voices that articulate a beloved community inclusive of all, exclusive to none. Womanist theology makes a claim for wholeness and inclusivity, transcending differences of gender, class, race, sexuality, and politics. Thus I am interested in expanding womanist notions of love and community not only to......
5 Confessions of a Ex-Theological Bitch
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Hi, my name is Elonda.1 I am an ex-theological bitch. I am in recovery from being a strong black woman2 who was theologically restrained, socially silenced, and physically sacrificed. Yesterday, I was silent, “respectable,” expendable. Today I “talk back” and take back the power of my own Pussy and voice. I liberate them both from...
6 It’s Deeper Than Rap
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The title of this essay is taken from the title of a recent rap album Deeper Than Rap by Miami-based rapper Rick Ross.3 Rick Ross is a rapper whose music narrates a precarious, complicated, ridiculed, and despised condition that exists among too many black males in the United States. With stories of drug dealing, gun play, sex, death, and intoxication, Rick Ross, like many rappers before him, claim that his music is...
PART III Gender and Sexuality
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7 “I Am a Nappy-Headed Ho”
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On June 9th, 2007, the NAACP, along with countless religious and political leaders in the black community, gathered together to symbolically “bury” the “N” word. This seemed to be a logical move, according to many, in the media-flurry and upset over the now-famous “nappy-headed ho” statement made by radio host Don Imus on April 4th, 2007.1 I invoke this particular historical moment and these symbolic...
8 Dark Matter
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In the 1990s, Cleo Manago coined the term “Same Gender Loving,” or, SGL, to denote sexual difference among African Americans.1 Manago’s argument was that the term “gay” was so associated with white, middle-class men that it held little value for African American men who loved or had sex with other men. Manago and the New York City–based group Black Men’s Xchange articulate an argument for the...
9 Invisible Hands
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Womanist is coined and defined in Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers Gardens as an encompassing identity that represents a number of dimensions describing black feminists or feminists of color who, among other things, are also “women who love other women, sexually and/or nonsexually.”1 In spiteof Walker’s framing of womanist, recent scholarship drawn from Walker’s...
10 “Beyond Heterosexuality”
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My older sister made a statement shortly after the death of our mother I will never forget: She felt our mother “was a lesbian.” My sister laid out a historical accounting of the evidence she felt supported her claim. There was a certain discomfort that came along with the statement: one that I always felt rested with my sister, but came home to roost with me. I understand now that source may have been what she saw as a contradiction...
PART IV Politics
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11 Aesthetic Pragmatism and a Third Wave of Radical Politics
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In 1998, the sociologist Patricia Hill Collins sounded a clarion call for the revitalization of visionary pragmatism, a tradition deeply rooted in the African American tradition, but largely absent in many urban African American communities and sorely needed in progressive politics and in our common life. Collins advocates moving from...
12 “We’ll Make Us a World”
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We are in a place we never expected to be in our lifetimes. Many of us who came of age on the cusp of the civil rights movement have witnessed the inauguration of the first bi-racial president of the United States. We have come from the denigration of Representative Barbara Jordan in the press: “She looks like a mammy and sounds like God” to Michelle Obama’s creative renegotiation of her role as First Lady.3 Her...
13 Scholarly Aesthetics and the Religious Critic
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This short essay is about the black cultural politics of scholarship within Black Studies and Black Religion. Much of the impetus for this essay is derived from my graduate seminars in “Black Religion and Culture Studies I and II” at Vanderbilt University. In 2008, I initiated a graduate program in Black Religion and Culture Studies. While teaching...
14 Embodying Womanism
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Drawing from twenty-three years of work in the field of women’s healthcare and over a decade of academic teaching in a small, private, graduate institution in the San Francisco Bay area, I offer a framework for constructing an embodied, holistic spiritual and liberating pedagogy that can be successfully employed in the pluralistic humanities1 classroom of twenty-first-century...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013