Spring 2014 : African American Studies 139 The Black Church and Post-Racial Politics: Protest, Prosperity or Praise?
- W 2-5P
- WILSON, M
- 203 Wheeler
This course invites students to explore the importance of the African American church as social institution in the social, organizational and political lives of the African American community. While the black church was the primary social center to organize liberation and social change during anti-slavery and the early/modern civil rights movements, in more recent times its relevance and meaning for shaping political change has been questioned given notions of a “post-racial society.” As a student you will examine: (1) the political power of African American churches during slavery and black nationalist politics, paying attention to black Christian churches’ racial representation of “the black Jesus”, (2) the role the black church in shaping political identities and conversations about race during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, and (3) the shifting political practices of African American Churches from liberation and racial equality to institutions of economic prosperity and “praise” during the rise of hip hop and emergence of “post-racial” political ideologies. Over the course of the semester we will ask: (1) do representations of “the black Jesus” among black nationalist churches still impact the political identities and work of African American congregations?; (2) do current messages of “prosperity” and “praise” in televangelist led African American churches deny new forms of racism and limit political practices focused on ending racial inequality?; and (3) can the political practices of African American churches that deny “post-racial” ideas not only address racial inequality, but also welcome interrelated inequalities of race, class, gender and sexual orientation, given conservative politics of black congregations? Students will have the opportunity to visit local black churches, talk with church leaders, and study the role of black church music in shaping the politics and social lives of African Americans.