My locus as a woman of African descent, existing at the intersection of class, gender and race, is the lens through which I read, speak, write, question, critique, and lament. My image of God (imago dei) is that of a woman; indeed, a Black woman. I refer to God as She and Her. Race, more than any other factor, distinguishes my lived experiences from that of white women, yet my gender distinguishes my lived experiences from that of black men. Neither feminism nor black liberation theology adequately address the intersectionality of my location. Womanist theology is the vehicle by which I wrestle with the biblical witness.
When I took Old Testament at Brite Divinity School for the first time, I became physically ill. Reading Genesis and what scholars like Tertullian had to say about women was such a shock. Reading some of the texts that (thank God) didn’t make it into the canon literally took the wind out of my sails. A course in Feminist Ethics, taught by Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas, enabled me to hold on to my faith (and my sanity).
In history, the victor writes the story. The privileged determine what the “official version” will be. In this regard, where is Thecla, who preached and baptized alongside Paul? Why was Sarah silent when Abraham set off to sacrifice her son? Why are there so many unnamed women in the Bible? As a Womanist theologian, I must “read behind the text” in order to find myself there. To be liberated by this Bible; even by the Black Jesus James Cone writes about, this woman has to work very hard.