Part I: Theorizing Anti-Blackness

Katie Grimes (Theology, Villanova)

“Anti-Blackness Supremacy: A New Direction for Theological Ethics”

Probing the distinction between white privilege, white supremacy, and the emerging conversation about anti-Black racism, this chapter tracks how conversations about racism have progressed in recent years and charts a course for the future. The chapter proposes that the emerging conversation about anti-Blackness provides ways to link problems of race and class.

Steven Battin (Theology, Notre Dame)

“The Coloniality of Anti-Blackness”

This chapter explores the Christian ethical implications of the neoliberal destabilization of Black communities. It argues that a decolonial framework is more effective than a white/Black framework in understanding anti-Black racism; the decolonial framework locates anti-Blackness in continuity with modernity’s pathological urge to annihilate indigeneity.

Santiago Slabodsky (Religion, Hofstra)

“It is the Theology, Stupid! Blackness, Coloniality, and the People with No Religion”

This chapter explores the way that Christian theology and colonialism worked together to deny the humanity of Blacks. The chapter shows how such dehumanization is closely connected with the dehumanization of indigenous peoples, Jews, and Muslims, and it explores the possibility for anti-racist alliances among these groups.

M. Shawn Copeland (Theology, Boston College)

“Anti-Blackness and White Supremacy in the Making of American Catholicism”

Critical, sustained interrogation of the social construction of race and white supremacy with their deforming impact on individuals and institutions, spirituality and sacrament, remains the most underdeveloped topic in American Catholic theological, cultural, and historical studies. This chapter explores the reasons for this lack and proposes a remedy.

Part II: Black Bodies and Black Selves

Kelly Brown Douglas (Religion, Goucher)

“The Inconvenience of Blackness in the Sacred Realm of Whiteness”

From Trayvon to Sandra black bodies don’t matter. The question is why. This chapter will explore the way in which the narrative of American Exceptionalism with its legitimating religious canopy has declared a war on Blackness. In doing so, it offers a theological response to Frederick Douglass’s observation that “killing a slave … is not treated as a crime.”

Andrew Prevot (Theology, Boston College)

“Sources of a Black Self? Ethics of Authenticity in an Era of Anti-Blackness”

It makes sense to be wary of the “self”: is it not a modern European invention? At the same time, it is important to recognize that antiblackness not only violates black bodies but also attacks the very possibility of black selfhood by rendering it unthinkable and unrecognizable. This chapter develops a theological account of Black selfhood that may be mobilized in anti-racist activism.

Elias Ortega-Aponte (Drew Theological School)

“The Haunting of Lynching Spectacles: Affect and the Survival of Black Bodies”

This chapter explores how representations of lynchings and related images and videos of acts of violence against bodies of color release “ghosts” into the social world. These ghosts unleash flows of affect entangled with acts of violence that haunt social systems. Visual demands for justice, read theologically, can actually perpetuate injustice.

Ashon Crawley (Ethnic Studies, UC-Riverside)

“The Ethics of Blackness and Matter”

This chapter proposes using music as a novel way to approach issues of race in Christian ethics. Drawing on a broad set of images and analogies, from Pentecostal worship to quantum physics, the chapter explores the ethical demands that are latent in Black religious worlds. What might it mean for Christian ethics to take worshipping Black bodies as its starting point?

Part III: Black Love

Vincent Lloyd (Theology, Villanova)

“George Jackson, Eldridge Cleaver, and the Ethics of Love”

Love structures the acclaimed writings of incarcerated black intellectuals George Jackson and Eldridge Cleaver. Indeed, for each, introspective analysis of anti-Black racism eventually culminates in praise of love for another—specifically, of a white woman. This chapter examines what we can learn about love, its pathologies, and its relation to justice from these writers.

Eboni Marshall Turman (Yale Divinity School)

“Facing Pecola: Black Girl Disrepsectability and the Moral Paradox of Anti-Black Eroticism”

This chapter explores how anti-Black eroticism harms the lives and life chances of Black girls in the US. It uses Toni Morrison’s character Pecola Breedlove as a starting point, showing how her body is fixed at the locus of revulsion and desire. When Black girls are understood in this way, through this erotics, they are particularly susceptible to state-sanctioned anti-Black violence.

Bryan Massingale (Theology, Fordham)

“The Erotic Life of Anti-Blackness: Police Sexual Violation of Black Bodies”

Race-based sexual violence has been constant from the days of slavery, through the lynchings of black men and coerced sexual relationships with women domestics during Jim Crow, and even into the present. This chapter is a theological and ethical analysis of one manifestation of race-based sexual violence: sexualized police misconduct against Black US citizens