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  • Introduction
  • Edwin David Aponte (bio)

race, ethnicity, religion, Trumpism, white supremacy, Mexican border, coronavirus pandemic, gun massacres, justice


Intersections of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion

The following essays had earlier expressions in two biennial meetings of the Society of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in 2017 and 2019, and, as might be expected, all examine aspects of the multilayered and often complex relationships between and among race, ethnicity, and religion. Such exploration is not solely an intellectual exercise, but it is increasingly a necessary thing to do–not only for deeper understanding of these issues themselves but also for addressing many of the moral and public policy challenges of our times. Of course, exploring the connections and intersections among concepts of race, ethnicity, and religion and spirituality within particular contexts of the United States is important in its own right, but such study also addresses the concerns of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies for ongoing and meaningful dialogue among diverse religious traditions.

If the truth be told, the lines of religious difference in the U.S. are entwined with the types of oppressions associated with White supremacy.1 [End Page 461] The multiple and shifting constructions of race and ethnicity have been with us long before we began to define these existential realities in terms of intersectionality.2 In her exploration of Black religion in the early twentieth century, historian Judith Weisenfeld advanced the helpful term of "religioracial identity" to describe "individual and collective identity as constituted in the conjunction of religion and race" within the larger context of "the deeply powerful, if sometimes veiled, ways the American system of racial hierarchy has structured religious beliefs, practices, and institutions for all people in its frame."3 In a very real sense, the essays collected here not only address distinctive types of religio-racial identities but also help us to understand better the concept itself. Examining shifting understandings of race and ethnicity, the relationships to varied expressions and practices of religion and spirituality, and the connections to issues of identity, class, power, gender, sexuality, and politics, among others, is to acknowledge spaces where marginalized communities and those interested in critical race theory, ethnic studies, religious studies, sociology, anthropology, history, and theological studies can gather together to explore overlapping issues, share insights, and enter spaces of engagement, learning, and challenge in multiple and intersectional, interdisciplinary, and innovative investigations. These essays are examples of that type of rich interdisciplinary and intersectional constructive dialogue of religio-racial identities.

The six essays that follow also expand scholarly landscapes beyond more conventional academic practices in religious studies. They do this by employing epistemological perspectives emanating from marginalized communities and critical race, postcolonial, and gender and sexuality studies. In so doing the authors encourage readers to consider more fully what it might mean to employ engaged praxis for the common good. What these essays show, especially when read together, is how doing this work from [End Page 462] marginalized spaces creates collaborative and interdependent networks. In turn, they demonstrate where those interested in the overlapping realities of race, ethnicity, and religion point us to study new avenues of agency to work against all types of oppression across the planet. In different ways, these essays also illuminate both the fluidity of religious boundaries and identities and provide examples of the construction of those boundaries and identities within the context of the U.S.4

Religion and Race in the Time of Trump

With these goals in mind, the question may be fairly asked why, then, the theme of "Religion and Race in the Time of Trump." No doubt there is some risk is using this theme. It is not the risk or fear of any type of professional or scholarly retribution or even the possibility of some rogue retaliatory actions from the federal government for the exercise of free speech (although sadly that has happened in 2020). Rather, one of the risks here is giving U.S. President Donald J. Trump any more prominence than he deserves through the mere mention of his name or the risk of providing the possibility of any hint of approval of evil and unlawful behavior that has occurred during the time of Trump...


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pp. 461-469
Launched on MUSE
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