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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The Religious Life and Transformation of Tynetta Muhammad in theGrant’s “Backbone” and Michael Eric Dyson’s “Theological Bitch”(Re)Signifying “Deviance” in the Haraam of Religious Respectability”...
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This volume started as a small idea in an article I began writing in 2004in the midst of lively conversations with Karen Baker-Fletcher about blackfeminism and womanism. The conversations took form in my essay, “Must IBe Womanist?” in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (2006). The editorialstaff of JFSR was amazingly supportive in offering me space, validation, and...
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Womanism stands out as a liberatory spiritual praxis because of the depthto which it honors the personal spiritual journey. In the early twenty-firstcentury, 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 populationhave rejected traditional, mainstream religious adherence in favor of various...
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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 aWomanist 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 IReligious Pluralism
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ThesocialandtheologicaldynamicspeculiartotherealityofAfricanAmericanMuslims continue to influence how they marry and organize their households.Indeed, the peculiarities of black life in America have historically distinguishedthe lived experiences of these Muslims from other practitioners of Islamregardlessoftheirnationalityorcitizenship.Thatis,theabsenceofmarriageable...
2From Mistress to Mother
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Mother Tynetta Muhammad had been one of the numerous secretaries of theHonorable Elijah Muhammad (d. 1975) with whom he was engaged in whatwas interpreted at the time as extramarital relations.1 Her status over the lastfour decades, however, has been transformed from putative “mistress” to onewho is now seen as the “mother” of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and as one of...
3Nature, Sexuality, and Spirituality
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Mu, Earth Mother, is an indigenous1 goddess in Chinese spiritual tradition. Iam 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.” InChinese, the term for mother is “mu qin.” The character “mu” in “Di Mu”is the same character as “mu” in “mu qin.” Although the character “Mu” in...
PART IIPopular Culture
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4Is This a Dance Floor or a RevivalMeeting?
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I join with womanist voices that articulate a beloved community inclusiveof all, exclusive to none. Womanist theology makes a claim for wholenessand inclusivity, transcending differences of gender, class, race, sexuality, andpolitics. Thus I am interested in expanding womanist notions of love andcommunitynotonlytogivevoicetovoicelesswomenashasbeenitstradition,...
5Confessions 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 frombeingastrongblackwoman2 whowastheologicallyrestrained,sociallysilenced,and physically sacrificed. Yesterday, I was silent, “respectable,” expendable.Today I “talk back” and take back the power of my own Pussy and voice. Iliberate them both from being treated like a bitch. And these, these are my...
6It’s Deeper Than Rap
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The title of this essay is taken from the title of a recent rap album DeeperThan Rap by Miami-based rapper Rick Ross.3 Rick Ross is a rapper whosemusic narrates aprecarious, complicated, ridiculed, anddespised condition thatexists among too many black males in the United States. With stories of drugdealing, gun play, sex, death, and intoxication, Rick Ross, like many rappers...
PART IIIGender 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 politicalleaders in the black community, gathered together to symbolically “bury” the“N” word. This seemed to be a logical move, according to many, in themedia-flurry and upset over the now-famous “nappy-headed ho” statementmade by radio host Don Imus on April 4th, 2007.1 I invoke this particular...
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Inthe1990s,CleoManagocoinedtheterm“SameGenderLoving,”or,SGL,todenote sexual difference among African Americans.1 Manago’s argument wasthat the term “gay” was so associated with white, middle-class men that it heldlittle 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...
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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 dimensionsdescribing black feminists or feminists of color who, among other things, arealso “women who love other women, sexually and/or nonsexually.”1 In spiteof Walker’s framing of womanist, recent scholarship drawn from Walker’s...
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My older sister made a statement shortly after the death of our mother I willnever forget: She felt our mother “was a lesbian.” My sister laid out a historicalaccounting of the evidence she felt supported her claim. There was a certaindiscomfortthatcamealongwiththestatement:onethatIalwaysfeltrestedwithmy sister, but came home to roost with me. I understand now that source may...
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11Aesthetic Pragmatism and a ThirdWave of Radical Politics
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In 1998, the sociologist Patricia Hill Collins sounded a clarion call for therevitalization of visionary pragmatism, a tradition deeply rooted in the AfricanAmerican tradition, but largely absent in many urban African Americancommunitiesandsorelyneededinprogressivepoliticsandinourcommonlife.Collins advocates moving from the reactive stance of critique to the creative...
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 whocame of age on the cusp of the civil rights movement have witnessed theinaugurationofthefirstbi-racialpresidentoftheUnitedStates.Wehavecomefrom the denigration of Representative Barbara Jordan in the press: “She lookslikeamammyandsoundslikeGod”toMichelleObama’screativerenegotiation...
13Scholarly Aesthetics and the ReligiousCritic
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This short essay is about the black cultural politics of scholarship within BlackStudies and Black Religion. Much of the impetus for this essay is derivedfrom my graduate seminars in “Black Religion and Culture Studies I and II”at Vanderbilt University. In 2008, I initiated a graduate program in BlackReligionandCultureStudies.Whileteachingmyseminars,Ibegantonotethat...
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Drawing from twenty-three years of work in the field of women’s healthcareand over a decade of academic teaching in a small, private, graduate institutionin the San Francisco Bay area, I offer a framework for constructing anembodied, holistic spiritual and liberating pedagogy that can be successfullyemployed in the pluralistic humanities1classroom of twenty-first-century...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Innovations