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Being Black/Teaching Black: An African-American Dialogue Connecting the Influences of Blackness in Theological Education Teaching Practices

Awarded Grant
Westfield, Nancy
Drew University
Undergraduate School
Topics: Diversity and Social Justice   |   Gathering Faculty across Institutions   |   Identity, Vocation, and Culture of Teaching

Proposal abstract :
Support for an African-American cohort group to engage the central question of how our embodiment of Black Church/Black Theology/Black culture influences our teaching in theological and religious studies. Goals include: charting the impact that Black presence has had on theological pedagogy; consideration of the liminality of Black theological education at this critical time in its history; and to write an anthology concerning the influence and embodiment of Blackness on theological education.

Learning Abstract :
In our research about the presence, influence, role and contribution of African-American professors on the classrooms of religion and theological education, it was our hunch that white supremacy and patriarchy are still a major obstacle and genuine threat that demands critical strategy both in the identity politic with colleagues and also in the classrooms with our students. We suspected that the presence of race is a critical aspect to the curriculum in general and the teaching practices, specifically. We wanted to analyze the teaching practices that Black professors have developed and have come to rely upon that will push-through or thwart some of the racism, classism, and sexism involved in teaching and learning. During our research, we rehearsed a multiplicity of issues and strategies which a Black professor negotiates daily and which White colleagues are not burdened by. We were fascinated at the amount of attention the presence of our Black bodies, our literal physicality, received in the classroom and have written about these issues of body. A major thread of our work had to do with the role and strategies we use to educate others about their own racist behaviors that keep them from a critical understanding necessary in our disciplines and subject matter. And significant time has been spent by our group advising, discussing and strategizing on ways of maintaining health, sanity, creativity, and faith.
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