the presence of the lord is [here]: black christian theology and trans-ancestral interventions on the genders of the black body

d. r. d.


Departed ancestor James Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation emerges as a powerfully meditative text on the conditions of possibility for Black bodies on Earth, and for theology as a vehicle for resistance only when it is imbued within Blackness and Black liberation. Cone argues that God is aligned with those on Earth who suffer most, and that Black liberation is so by divine right. In this essay, I argue that the Black Church is inhibited from true and honest Black liberation because of its failure to access revelation through knowing of Black trans bodies and the fullness of Black gender. This essay addresses not necessarily a teleological concern of whether revelation can happen, but whether normative Black bodies can catch up to the work that is being forged by Black trans and queer bodies. Most pro-minently, what does it mean for Black liberation to be exclusively express-ed in terms of bodies who are deemed normative: cisgender and hetero-sexual? What Black liberation through the Black Christian Church is fungible or possible for Black trans/nonbinary bodies? In what ways does a Black liberatory politic that obfuscates or omits the existence of Black non-normative genders fail to examine the full potential of Black liberation and the fruit that it bears, specifically, in the overturning of violent, rigid, and gendered prohibitions surrounding the Black body? I take up the words of Hortense Spillers, M. Jacqui Alexander, Zenaida Peterson, Hari Ziyad, Marquis Bey, and C. Riley Snorton to suggest a Black theology that has actively been conjured by Black non-cis and queer bodies. Such a theology, black-trans-queer, outpaces the normative considerations of Blackness and revolution/ revelation, currently and historically housed in the Black Church – and I imagine what it would mean for the normative Black Church to catch up. If we understand self-knowing and revelatory power in Black theology as conducive to liberation of Black bodies, what would it mean for this intimate, internal awareness to be housed in that part of our Black bodies that inherently resists colonial gender metrics?

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