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Saving Black America?: A Womanist Analysis of Faith-Based Initiatives


This essay considers the complexities associated with faith-based initiatives for poor black people, as these initiatives have become one antipoverty strategy within some black churches. Deploying a womanist perspective on public policy, my contention is that faith-based initiatives have a contradictory nature in relation to ameliorating poverty among blacks. While these initiatives provide the necessary funding for many religious organizations such as black churches that are already doing antipoverty work, these initiatives simultaneously fail to consider how free-market institutions exacerbate poverty in general and black poverty in particular. Black churches must acknowledge that faith-based initiatives are an insufficient strategy for the amelioration of poverty if such a strategy is not situated alongside more structural and class-based efforts to ameliorate systemic injustice.

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