Thursday, February 25, 2010

Aint I a Womanist Too?

Womanist theology is a response to sexism in black theology and racism in feminist theology.  When early black theologians spoke of “the black experience,” they only included the experience of black men and boys.  They did not address the unique oppression of black women.  Feminist theologians, on the other hand, unwittingly spoke only of white women’s experience, especially of middle- and upper-class white women.  They did not include issues of race and economics in their critiques.  Many womanists also feel that feminist theology operates in opposition to men and is anathema to the church.  Womanist theologians want to maintain their connection to black men and remain faithful to the church traditions from which they come.  The term womanist allows black women to affirm their identity as black while also owning a connection with feminism.  Employing Alice Walker’s definition of womanist in her 1983 collection of essays In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, womanist theology makes significant contributions to the fields of black and liberation theologies.

above, an excerpt from the Introduction to Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology, by Monica A. Coleman.
This evening, Coleman gives the opening lecture - “Ain’t I A Womanist Too?: Third Wave Womanist Religious Thought” - for the Third Wave Womanism Conference at Claremont School of Theology.  (HT Rod of Alexandria)


Jane said...

Thanks for this post. I think that womanist theology also helps many women in minority churches (and in Europe let's face it that is most christian women!) to forge a theological and faith idenitiy for themselves which keeps them in rahter than pushes them beyond the church. For me as these days a French Protestant taht's the case.

J. K. Gayle said...

Jane, You make a wonderful point. Yes, minority women of color and women as minority despite race. From womanist theologians we all, regardless of position, do well to hear, to listen, to learn. Thank you for your work, your encouragement, your leadership!

Rod said...

No problem JK.

I have read Making A Way Out of No Way.

I will have to say, however, that her assessment that Black theology was for both black men and boys is wrong. In fact, very little theology is written with children in mind, girls and boys alike. There is a certain amount of subjectivity and experience assumed on the part of the theologian. How can a person's embedded theology go under deconstruction if that person is a child, and does not know anything about God?

Also, do the experience of children contribute to scholarship? Are they able to think theologically? I would affirm both. They have changed the direction of my thesis. And that is a fact.

Just a few thought.

J. K. Gayle said...

Great questions, Rod. You bring up good thought provoking issues. When bell hooks talks about the woman's roles in black families -- and their resisting white and / or male dominance by storytelling (and my own experiences with that as a white boy taken care of by a black woman employed by my parents before
the Jim CRow laws were repealed) -- I've wondered about where children fit in these situations. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this!