Action Items to Combat Anti-Black Racism
Feminist Studies in Religion
The leadership of Feminist Studies in Religion (FSR) reflected on and continues to lament the anti-Black racism exposed in the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and other Black people, which have gained international attention. After conversation across our various boards and leadership, we have developed the following commitments to work towards combating anti-Black racism in our organization’s structure and practices. We deplore and stand against the existence of institutionalized structures of racism in our society and our organization’s participation in and benefit from them. Going forward, we hold ourselves accountable to implementing specific and attainable action items.
In the coming weeks, months, and year(s), FSR will begin to combat anti-Black racism in our organization through the following action items:
1) Recognize the work of Black feminist and womanist scholars
FSR will develop a new award for Black feminist/womanist scholars named after Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon. This award will be given using a tiered system, similar to the Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award, with a first-place prize of $1,000, second-place prize of $500.00, and third-place prize of $250.00.
2) Invite more women of color to FSR’s boards and leadership
Each area of FSR’s leadership will bring nominations for women of color scholars to our upcoming leadership meeting in July. In the organizational succession plan for the next two years, we commit to choosing at least two Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (JFSR), Inc. officers who identify as people of color and to increasing the religious diversity of the officers. We also commit to creating intentional connections and mentoring among board members to incorporate new members and cultivate future leadership, and begin combatting FSR’s history as a predominantly white and Christian space, including white domination in leadership. (See 4 & 5)
3) Facilitate intentional conversations on anti-Black racism and white supremacy
FSR’s blog and journal will create a call for submissions on anti-Black racism and white supremacy in relation to the feminist study of religion, and develop a call for a journal issue devoted to Black women’s scholarship. Additionally, the Feminists Talk Religion (FTR) Podcast recently published an episode on dismantling whiteness in academia, and plans to continue providing related content in the Fall. The blog plans to host its next @theTable roundtable series on anti-Black racism and the intersections of gender, religion, activism, and/or academia.
4) Expand our community
FSR will seek to expand the community of those who feel represented in and a part of FSR through establishing a structure for mentoring, hosting academic/career skills workshops, and facilitating writing circles. The blog team will host workshops about writing blogs, the politics of blogging, and create opportunities to workshop blogs. Our primary intent in these efforts is to open up intellectual space, community, and networks for women of color and emerging scholars.
5) Self-reflect on FSR’s history and current practices
FSR recognizes its need to critically reflect on its own history and practices as they relate to race and racism. JFSR and CoLaboratory will begin curating related information from the organization’s history, including retrospective contributions such as roundtables, lists of editors and board members from the very beginning, etc.
6) Host combined AAR/SBL panel(s) on anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and feminist religious studies
Planning these panels for the 2020/2021 conferences will be supported by all FSR leadership, and will be held as Zoom and/or Livestream sessions if AAR/SBL Annual Meetings do not gather in person this year.
7) Gather resources
We plan to begin culling resources among FSR board members immediately to formulate a bibliography on anti-Black racism and feminism. We will invite all board members to submit their work to the bibliography and invite non-FSR colleagues to contribute via an open source document.
8) Foster syllabi collaboration
CoLaboratory is planning to collect readings, films, and other resources on anti-Black racism within the classroom, and related to decolonizing the field of feminist studies in religion. We foresee being able to facilitate discussions around these resources and syllabi construction via FSR blog posts, podcast episodes, and AAR/SBL panels.