To unveil is to uncover a person, an object, or a concept that was previously hidden away from public view. It is to shine light on something that was at one time or another shrouded in darkness. The act of uncovering is to give voice and acknowledgment to what we did not know, or rather, what we have been forced to ignore. As Eboni Howard Turman states, “Uncovering is a key methodological moment that gives license to the movement/agency of Black women (2013, p. 8).” At its core, uncovering is about liberation as it gives Black and African the space to share our experiences in ways that have not been heard or validated. You see, when something is covered, one does not have to pay attention to it. One does not have to acknowledge its existence and certainly doesn’t have to consider the ways in which the covering in and of itself marginalizes and objectifies. And in this country, I can think of no other group of people who have been covered more than Black and African women.
There are many reasons why this is so, most of which revolve around the racism and sexism that defines institutions (Church, government, healthcare, education – you name it), in this country. Most of the reasons for the covering are directly tied to notions regarding Black women’s bodies as sites of objectivity, used to produce labor and satisfy the sexual longings of men, at times against our will. In order to justify the level of assault that Black women have endured, our bodies have been deemed problematic, rendering us incapable of serving alongside men in faith based institutions, raising our children well (especially without a man), holding public office, or leading cutting edge organizations and industries. This posture towards Black women leads to a covering imposed from without that not only impedes our ability as Black women to be well but negatively impacts the human community as a whole.
The reality is that Black and African women, for as long as we have lived on this earth, have resisted the forced veiling and hiding away of who we are. Sometimes we have resisted on our own, isolated from other Black and African women who share similar stories of oppression and silencing. At other times, we have resisted in relationship with one another, understanding that our experiences are not so unique but are felt by other Black and African women who live at the intersections of marginalization based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and ability.
This is the work that the Kinky Curly Theological Collective is committed to do – deepen community among Black and African women so that we can together resist and overcome oppression. In this work, we seek to unveil the truth about who we are, what we face, and how we have endured. We commit to write, speak up, and elevate our gifts and abilities, instead of playing to someone else’s judgments about who they think we should be. We do all of this by paying attention to and attending to our spiritual core; we whose spirits have been murdered (Love, 2019) as a result of interfacing structural racism on a minute by minute basis, have to be ever more vigilant about growing our spiritual practice.
In just a few short weeks, the Kinky Curly Theological Collective will host its conference, Unveiling the Black Woman Inside. Over the last year, this collective has worked with this theme to talk about the experiences of Black and African women as it pertains to spirituality, culture, sexuality and our bodies. In a time where the spirits of Black and African women have been assaulted, our integrity and way of knowing been minimized, and our bodies continuously disregarded, we gather as both an act of resistance and collective agency to define our own reality moving forward.
In this conference, we will take up the theme of unveiling in three ways:
- Unveiling our spirituality: led by Elder Amoke Kubat and Nancy Ellis
- Unveiling our identities as Black and African women: led by Leah Fulton, Claudette Webster, Marjorie Grevious, Nelima Sitati Munene, and Veronica Quillien
- Unveiling our bodies and sexualities: led by Lyvonne Proverbs and DeVonna Pitman
Over the next few weeks, we will highlight these themes in further detail as well as talk about these wonderful Black and African women who will be presenting. Be sure to check back into this blog to find out more. In the meantime, register for the conference. *We want all Black and African women who are interested and available to attend. If cost is a barrier to your participation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you cannot come, or identity as an ally/accomplice to Black and African women, please make a tax-deductible donation of $10, $25, or $100 to support the ongoing efforts of the Kinky Curly Theological Collective.
Eboni Howard Turman (2013), Towards a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation
Bettina Love (2019), We Want to Do More than Survive
**This blog is cross posted at http://www.ebonyjohanna.com