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Resistance+Faith+Art: Race and Sexuality Summit

A daylong teach-in as that addressed issues of human sexuality, Black faith, and emerging models of activism and organizing.

This daylong convening had goals of:

  • Equipping participants with new language to engage in healthy conversations about sexuality, gender, race, and faith.

  • Supporting participants in developing practices to address racial and sexual injustices in their private lives and the public sphere.

  • Growing community leaders who are able to articulate the inextricably linked connections between faith, sexuality, and race.

Tracks included:

  • Art as Resistance: With artist-in-residence and Fisk alum, Arjae Thompson, participants will explore creative ways to examine racialized and sexualized injustices, envision ways to resist, and faithfully re-imagine a world of limitless possibility. This track will explore our creativity using the power of visual art and the spoken word. Participants will exchange experiences and connect build connections through artistic expression and form while expanding their own creative prospective in the process. Together we will look into ourselves to communicate personal ideas on the intersection of race, sexuality, and faith.

  • Black Faith as Resource: Participants will explore how the faith practices, spiritual life and religious traditions of Black people are resources for addressing gender-based violence, as well, sexual and racial oppression and injustice. Participants will be given tools and language to name their racialized and sexualized realities and respond in ways that bring about liberation, transformation, and justice.

  • Organizing for Change: With the ever-changing political climate, how we respond, organize and resist racial and sexual oppression must also change. This tracks will attend to the ways gender, sexuality, faith, race, and class inform our current successes and struggles for social change. Participants will learn from local activist and organizers about the work being done to reclaim bodily autonomy, resist personal and systematic violence, and reimagine liberation and freedom.

Learn more on the Vanderbilt Divinity School website

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Feminist Womanist Theology Collaboration

Carpenter Program leadership (Ellen and Lyndsey) collaborated to imagine what a more integrative, co-curricular classroom experience might feel like by incorporating embodied practices and concrete justice making tools alongside deep theological exploration. The theology of the Feminist Womanist Theology course reflects critically and constructively on gender (as variable and intersectional) from the perspective of Christian theology. With a particular focus on embodiment, we will examine both “classical” and contemporary theological texts.

Integrated into Ellen’s syllabus and work plan were five sessions that introduced students to approaches to learning and community building that included personal reflection, simple embodied practices, and some demonstrated tools for paying attention to oppression in lived and concrete ways. Each Session built on that day’s readings in theme and focus, and each session included:  

  • At least one concrete tool for understanding how oppression/supremacy functions and explore practices for building liberation (personally and communally).

  • Some sort of creative engagement (art, movement, music).

  • Some embodied practice of reflection, problem solving, or creation.

The students were introduced to and practiced a host of tools that expanded and strengthened their ability to translate their theological learning into their personal and vocational context in effort to build justice and equity. Some of the tools included: the “Cycle of Socialization,” the “4 I’s of Oppression,” the GLSEN model for understanding gender, and the Practices and Habits of “White Supremacy Culture.”