- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: Orbis Books (May 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1626981094
- ISBN-13: 978-1626981096
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God Paperback – May 10, 2015
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The author strikes a good balance between political theology and analysis. Names in the news, including Michael Brown, combine with her own personal perspective as a mother to give the narrative poignancy and timeliness. Stand Your Ground raises important spiritual and social questions. --Publishers Weekly
Douglas' book is a clarion call to all in the United States, regardless of race, gender, class or faith, to acknowledge our sordid and painful past and to work together to transform the American dream of equality and opportunity into a reality for all. --National Catholic Reporter
Kelly Brown Douglas is an accomplished scholar with a prophetic theological voice that speaks to Christians in the pews and the theological academy. --Christian Century
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas is Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Director of the Religion Program at Goucher College, Baltimore, MD, where she holds the Susan D. Morgan Professorship of Religion. Prior to coming to Goucher College she was Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, DC, and served as Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, FL.
A native of Dayton, OH, Dr. Douglas was ordained in 1985 at Saint Margaret's Episcopal Church --the first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest in the Southern Ohio Diocese, and one of only five nationwide at the time. In 2012 she was the first to receive the Anna Julia Cooper Award by the Union of Black Episcopalians for her "literary boldness and leadership in the development of a womanist theology and discussing the complexities of Christian faith in African-American contexts." Essence magazine counts her "among this country's most distinguished religious thinkers, teachers, ministers, and counselors."
She is widely published in national and international journals. Her other books include The Black Christ, What's Faith Got to Do with It? (both from Orbis Books) as well as Black Bodies/Christian Souls, and Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant. She is also co-editor of Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection.
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She wrote in the Prologue of this 2015 book, “Why is it becoming increasingly acceptable to kill unarmed black children… why are they so easily perceived as a threat? How are we to keep our black children safe? As a mother of a black male child, I find these to be urgent questions. The slaying of Trayvon [Martin] struck a nerve deep within me… I knew that I had to seek answers. This book reflects my search for those answers.” (Pg. ix)
She continues in the Introduction, “This book will explore the social-cultural narratives that have given birth to our stand-your-ground culture and the religious canopies that have legitimated it. This stand-your-ground culture has produced and sustained slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, lynching, and other forms of racialized violence against black bodies. This book is an attempt to untangle the web of social, cultural, and theological discourse that contributes to stand-your-ground culture as well as to provide a theological response to the ideological assumptions that undergird this culture.” (Pg. xiii) She adds, “I do not attempt to resolve the many issues of stand-your-ground culture. This book is an invitation to engage in the hard soul searching needed if our country is ever to become a safer place for our black sons and daughters, and if we are to end the stand-your-ground culture war on the Trayvons, Jordans, Renishas, and Jonathans of our world.” (Pg. xv)
In the first chapter, she explains, “The underlying assumption of this book is that the seeds for Stand Your Ground law were planted ell before the founding of America. These seeds produced a myth of racial superiority that both determined America’s founding and defined its identity. This myth then gave way to America’s grand narrative of exceptionalism. This narrative… in turn constructed cherished property and generated a culture to shelter that property, thus insuring that American remain ‘exceptional.’ I identify this culture as ‘stand-your-ground culture.’ This culture is itself generative. It has spawned various social-cultural devices---legal and extralegal, theoretical and ideological, political and theological—to preserve America’s primordial exceptional identity.” (Pg. 4)
She argues, “It is with the construction of whiteness as cherished property that a stand-your-ground culture is finally born. From the Anglo-Saxon myth of America’s exceptionalism to whiteness as cherished property comes a stand-your-ground culture… [which] is nothing other than the enactment of whiteness as cherished property. It is the culture the protects… white supremacy. Stand-your-ground culture spawns its own means, legal and extralegal, to insure that nothing nonwhite intrudes on white space… [It] protects the rights that come with cherished white property. With this understanding, we can now answer the following question: ‘Could Trayvon have stood his ground on that sidewalk?’” (Pg. 44)
She observes, “Today, the Manifest Destiny stand-your-ground culture is fueled by the presence of a black man living in the White House. There is no greater challenge to America’s grand narrative of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism than a black president. This represent a complete encroachment upon the space reserved for cherished white property… the Stand Your Ground laws, in conjunction with the Conceal and Carry gun laws, have made legal a murderous act that was extralegal, that is, lynching. Our black children are falling victims to the twenty-first century version of stand-your-ground culture lynching, It is in this context that we must determine if going home was a viable option for Trayvon.” (Pg. 130-131)
She says, “The stand-your-ground culture was is a story of two faiths. There is the faith of a father whose son was not the ‘collateral damage’ of the war but actually the target. There is also the faith of a nation whose very identity created the war that targeted Trayvon… The faith of a father points to an exodus God who is with a people through a wilderness journey to forge a new life. The faith of a nation signals an exodus God who is with a people through a wilderness journey to bring unexpected death to many others. The faith of a nation gives say to a culture that negates black life. The faith of a father affirms black life in the midst of a culture of death.” (Pg. 137)
She acknowledges, “There is an inherent absurdity to black faith. It speaks of freedom in the midst of bondage. It speaks of life in the midst of death. This, however, is what makes black faith indispensable in the midst of a stand-your-ground culture war. For while black faith cannot change the world, black faithful can… [Trayvon’s mother and father] have brought attention to a stand-your-ground culture war that threatens the lives of all of our children. This is what it means to have an unshattered faith. It means acting as if you really believe in the God of that faith, that is, a God who intends for black bodies to be free… the freedom of God is made manifest in the tears, the strife, and the fight of the black fathers and mothers whose children are casualties of this unholiest of wars. Yes, perhaps black faith is absurd. Christianity itself is absurd. There s nothing more absurd than a religion that has a cross as its central symbol. But it is because of that cross … that we can be sure stand-your-ground culture will not have the last word over their lives.” (Pg. 170)
In the last chapter, she concludes, “In many respects, we have arrived at this particular stand-your-ground moment because of our nation’s inability to be honest with itself and to face the hard truths of its own story. It is a story about the vicissitudes of America’s narrative of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism and ideology of cherished white property. The nation will certainly continue to be help captive to that narrative until it honestly confronts it and the history it ahs created. Prophetic black testimony thus calls the nation to a moral memory.” (Pg. 221)
This is a creative and very important perspective on the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and similar tragedies. It will be “must reading” for anyone concerned with the social, moral, and theological issues raised by such events.
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