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I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation (Prophetic Christianity) Paperback – October 1, 2019
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— author of Roadmap to Reconciliation
“Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is one of the most courageous and prophetic voices I know! For far too long, theology and narratives that shape reconciliation have been coopted by whiteness and used from an individualistic lens. But there is hope! In I Bring the Voices of My People, Dr. Walker-Barnes gives us a new theological lens birthed from the margins that provides a more holistic approach to justice and racial healing. This is a must read for anyone serious about reconciliation. I highly recommend it!”
— Director of the Center for Justice and Renewal
“Finally, someone is inviting us into reconciliation on black womxn’s terms. And who better than Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, who spectacularly shows us in I Bring the Voices of My People that a message that centers black womxn’s experiences is a universally liberating message. I have experienced anti-black oppression in faith-based ‘reconciliation’ contexts, and Dr. Chanequa’s words have invaluably supported my healing journey while also redirecting my steps toward justice practices that are not colonized by whiteness. ‘Trust black womxn’ is a phrase that often gets thrown around with little behavioral follow-up. Dr. Chanequa, a true sage, is telling us how to trust black womxn on the topic and practice of reconciliation. I’m following her lead and I hope you will too.”
Phillis Isabella Sheppard
— Vanderbilt Divinity School
“Chanequa Walker-Barnes constructs a courageous womanist theology of racial reconciliation, drawing on a wide range of figures including womanist scholars, Alice Walker and her critical race theory, and Howard Thurman. What is so hopeful here, on a subject that has more often than not produced hopelessness and despair, is that Walker-Barnes puts forward a path that can lead to racial reconciliation, if not in my lifetime, then in the near, possible future. Walker-Barnes has offered us a challenge and an invitation; we should take them up by first reading I Bring the Voices of My People.”
Willie James Jennings
— Yale Divinity School
“Chanequa Walker-Barnes gives us new medicine, already tested through trials, and ready to address the sick ways Christians, especially evangelical Christians, think and talk about racial reconciliation. This beautifully written, sensitively personal, and analytically precise text may be the best book we have on racial reconciliation. Walker-Barnes, a womanist thinker of the highest order, has written herself into the required reading for every class that aims to consider race and reconciliation.”
Angela D. Sims
— President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
“Chanequa Walker-Barnes uses racialized gendered tropes and socially constructed methods of behavioral control to inform her deep analysis of racialized gendered commodification. Walker-Barnes’s ‘confrontational truth-telling’ is a timely reminder of the role of context in determining not only when and where we enter but whose voices are missing from the work of repentance, a necessary component of reconciliation. In this Trumpian era, I Bring the Voices of My People is a must-read for anyone committed to naming, confronting, and dismantling White supremacy.”
Grace Ji-Sun Kim
— author of Embracing the Other
“Walker-Barnes writes a powerful theological book which challenges common misconceptions about race, ethnicity, and discrimination and works toward a liberative theology. Her personal, soulful reflection lays bare our racially divided world. A beautiful book, I Bring the Voices of My People awakens us to the need for radical reconciliation and stirs us to create a new reality which embraces and uplifts everyone.”
— author of Dear White Christians
"With brilliant and unflinching commitment to black women, Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes tells the truth and writes a vision. We who truly long for racial reconciliation can only leave this womanist work of liberation and love newly challenged and charged to take up our asymmetrical and particular work. Walker-Barnes rejoins black women, black people, women of color in mapping the journey of healing and salvation through confrontational truth-telling, breaking chains, leaving sometimes, and the life-nurturing relationships among women of color. She calls the white among us to repentance and conversion, as well as to the salvific recognition that our moral injury will be repaired only as we reckon with the power of white supremacy in white lives. I am listening and am deeply grateful for this powerful and necessary book.”
— Coordinator, Evangelicals 4 Justice, Chair, UC Riverside Ethnic Studies
“I Bring the Voices of My People is a trenchant and desperately needed critique of the evangelical racial reconciliation movement from an intersectional perspective. Centering a womanist analytic, Walker-Barnes demonstrates that an intersectional theology is essential for Christians of all racial and gender identities. Her in-depth analysis of the logic of white supremacy is also instructive for anyone working to further racial justice. This book should be required reading for all seminarians.”
David P. Gushee
— Mercer University
“I Bring the Voices of My People brings a womanist sledgehammer to the racism and racial reconciliation discussion in American Christianity. That largely male, often white, and uselessly polite conversation will never be the same, and that’s a very good thing. In #Trumpvangelical America, we need truth-telling about white (Christian) supremacism and how to break its power. Chanequa Walker-Barnes establishes herself firmly here as an essential part of that effort. Her bracing, disruptive, uncompromising, truthful, womanist voice must be heard in these apocalyptic days.”
— author of The Next Evangelicalism and Prophetic Lament
“Without disruption, the American church will not be able to move beyond the rote and simplistic approaches that make racial reconciliation seem tired and worn out. For too many years, we have gone around in circles centering dominant voices that recapitulate what has already failed us. This book is the necessary disruption to what has become complacency and fatigue around this important work. Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes brings an infusion of fresh air that draws from the gripping story of her life experiences combined with an academic and intellectual curiosity that offers the potential of a powerful narrative of change. For serious students of reconciliation, this book now becomes one of the standard texts you must engage.”
— author of America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America
“Chanequa Walker-Barnes offers an incredibly powerful analysis of racism and misogyny within the church and America. Her voice here and throughout her ministry is something all Christians need to hear in order to bring justice and reconciliation and to understand the work yet to be done. Her voice and her faith in God simultaneously provoke, humble, illuminate, and call us to action. Let us respond to her prophetic word.”
— author of Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion
“If the true work of a teacher is to help her students know what is at stake in the critical conversations of our time, then Chanequa Walker-Barnes can rightly be called a teacher of the church in twenty-first-century America. If you’ve seen enough to know that the legacy of white supremacy cripples Christians’ capacity to build up communities of justice and reconciliation, I Bring the Voices of My People will help you avoid false hope, ask better questions, and find the partners you need on a faithful journey toward freedom.”
— author, activist, and founder of Red Letter Christians
“Some people are wise because they’re near to God. Others are wise because of their social location and lived experience. And yet others are wise because they have studied the Word of God and the world we live in. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is all of the above. But there are people who are wise but they are not very kind. And there are people who are kind but they aren’t very wise. Dr. Chanequa shines bright because she is both wise and kind, and our world needs both right now. She makes you want to hear more, dream more, be more. Dr. Chanequa is the perfect person to help us name the present moment we are in so that we can navigate the future God wants for us. As a womanist of faith, she invites us to believe in something seemingly impossible, trusting that we have a God who specializes in the impossible. This book is a gift to the world, and so is Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes.”
— author of The Myth of Equality
“Chanequa Walker-Barnes achieves a rare combination of historical mastery, in-depth contemporary analysis, and personal reflection to produce a unique and necessary book for understanding the intersectionality of race and gender. In this superbly written book, readers will be exposed to a comprehensive and tightly argued work on historical racism, reconciliation movements, and the need for a robust and nuanced approach to understanding the experience of systemic oppression, engaging in truth-telling around white supremacy, and hearing and centering the voices of women of color. In some subjects, there exists the one book everyone needs to read. This is one of those books.”
Reggie L. Williams
— McCormick Theological Seminary
“Dr. Walker-Barnes takes readers through content that is typically not discussed within the paradigm of racial reconciliation. This voice in that conversation is a must read.”
J. Kameron Carter
— Indiana University
“There’s so much that is so good about this book. Drawing on womanist theology, Chanequa Walker-Barnes rewrites all that we thought we knew about racism and reconciliation. We learn here how reconciliation talk so often subtly reproduces racist practice; we learn why such talk often feels like we’re stuck in some ‘postracial,’ Lethal Weapon, Mel-Gibson-meets-Danny-Glover movie whose plot is to save the world of (white and black) men; and, vitally, in these pages we learn that it may be that reconciliation talk will have a future only if it becomes womanist-abolitionist practice. After this book, no one will be able to talk about racial reconciliation in the same way again.”
About the Author
Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a clinical psychologist, public theologian, and minister. She is the author of Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength and has written over a dozen articles in theology and psychology. She serves as Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology.
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Her introductory thesis statement, "I Bring the Voices of My People aims to center the voices of women of color by using a womanist framework to construct a theology of racial reconciliation" is truly the core of her writing and from interactions with her, the core of her being.
I found it very critical that Dr. "C," as we call her at seminary, opens the book with the first two chapters detailing what racism is not. Her expertise in psychology and counseling lend much to the groundwork in the first two chapters. Her passion in these areas shines through. She also builds on her case with historical documentation of systemic and institutionalized racism requiring a prophetic voice. She even addresses the importance of intersectionality in not only dealing with racism but in first recognizing the humanity of all.
The chapter I have and continue to spend the most time on is the third chapter, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Being." In light of the events surrounding the trial, conviction, and sentencing of the former officer, Amber Guyger, in the murder of Botham Jean, it highlights the importance of understanding the appeal and danger of centering whiteness. This chapter calls out the American church and its leadership for complicity and open participation in the atrocities committed against the African Diaspora, in the forms of enslavement, beatings, breeding, and lynching. I am still reading, but I highly recommend this as a text for any class that even only mentions racial reconciliation. I will update as I continue to read and digest Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes' book.
Her book is one to read, to ponder, to pay attention to where you feel challenged and to lean in and continue to listen. It is one to be discussed with others and to share where you feel challenged or convicted and how to move forward with what you have learned. This book challenged me and also renewed my energy for continuing the journey. I am certain I will come back to this book again and again. I definitely have recommended it and will continue to recommend it to anyone wanting to seriously learn and listen from women of color. This book has profoundly impacted me and I am very grateful for it.
I appreciated her discussion on the four frames of color-blind racism. After reading and rereading that section many times, I find that these frames present themselves in almost every conversation I'm having with others. So, I'm able to speak to them when I hear them.
Reading this book will equip you with an essential understanding of what racial reconciliation is and what it requires. I feel grateful to have read it and I plan to give copies away as gifts.