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Racial Justice, Interfaith Cooperation & #BLM

Racial Justice and Interfaith Cooperation in the Age of Black Lives Matter webinar tackle the question, “What is the role of Black religions, religiosity, interfaith studies and religious studies in the movement for Black lives and racial equity in the 21st century?” The contributors engage three primary themes: logic of domination, intersectionality and the particularity of existence and experience, and the role and power of scholarship and pedagogues in racial justice movements. This webinar is a great resource for those who are grappling with and reflecting on race, racism, and white supremacy. Below you will find quotes from the authors as well as a recording of the webinar. 

Davidson: The role that traditional African religion is playing among many female Black activists today is that younger women are in some ways discovering and deploying and drawing upon the power of traditional African religion to support their life and work, and a kind of rejection of Black churches that they may or may not have been nurtured in, but certainly is a rejection of dominant ways of being religious to fuel their work. 

Patton: I think we need to acknowledge in the academy that religious studies has a deep obligation to de-colonize, and pay attention to the particulars of the Black experience... I want to acknowledge that it, itself has a precarious space within the academy. It is never fully established. And I think part of the work that we need to do is not to get nervous about that but claim it and claim the hybridity of it. I think if we claim our ambiguous status within the academy and our ambiguous authority within the academy, it is our advantage in the decolonization work. 

Silverman: “I think what interfaith studies shares with many other newer disciplines or subfields in the past half-century is it has a tripartite agenda that it is pursuing. On one hand, it is offering a critique and the corrective to the academy as it has been institutionalized thus far. It is suggesting there is a way in which we have an approach to the world and thought about the world and study the world and represented the world and our institutions that is deficient. the second thing it’s trying to do is say 'this is a field in its own right.' This is a discipline or an area of subject or inquiry that we can pursue and ask her own research questions and pursue our own curricular projects. Third, it has a normative agenda and a social project that it is trying to enact in the world and it is suggesting that it's not just that there is something wrong with the Academy as such, but something wrong with the world that we are hoping to do something to rectify.” 

Taylor: “...The very fact that biological essentialism is still taught in some form at some of our most prestigious educational institutions in this country is an issue that we must seriously grapple with, but that also exposes these oppressive conceptual frameworks that still operate. This fact is one of the reasons that we must begin and continue to engage radical scholars who are challenging our most basic understandings of the way we organize ourselves as humans. Those foundations that allow those in the ivory tower to divorce scholarship from praxis and the material realities of those who are most marginalized in this country because of their race and other identity factors.” 

Access the full recording here. 

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.

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