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PhD Candidate Rant: Womanist and Black Theology in Atlantic History

PhD Research Rant: During some research regarding the Atlantic Slave trade for my dissertation and my book, I came across some writings of Dr. Katie Geneva Canon (1950 - 2018). Many of you are aware that I am not a proponent of womanist or black theology, as I have a general problem with theology prefixed by a sociopolitical designation, but her writings made me come to have some historiographical issues as well. She does indicate a fusion between Christianity and the Atlantic and Transatlantic slave trade, that cannot be denied. Tying the mission mandate of the Church with the move towards Black Africans as beings slaves is a pretty straight forward idea, however; my issue is that she posits Christianity as the foundation of the slave trade as opposed to being one of the tools used to facilitate it. This is one of the types of overstatement that muddies the waters, when looking at world history from a lens of "blackness" as with any other lens, we have to be cautious of projecting and missing the bigger picture. Of course, I cannot and am not trying to take away from her scholarship, however; this is why as a Christian I walk a lonely walk. Theologies predicated on a sociopolitic miss the overall essence of the Gospel in many cases, and leaves me often denomination-less as this is tied to dogma on the left and the right. Further, when looking at world history in such a lens, making large jumps to support that dogma can have one miss the forest for trees.

PhD Public Policy Candidate, Richard A. Graves, Helms School of Government


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