Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Shifting, Chapter 10: “Can I Get a Witness”

[Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America]

In the final chapter of Shifting, Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden discuss black women’s spirituality. Black women are the most religiously devout demographic in America; however, their religious affiliations continue to harbor sexism despite the liberation of their faiths provide.

Black women are two-thirds of black churches, yet continue to struggle in roles of leadership because of gender bias. Despite their overwhelming presence in the church, the authors note, “Black women are expected to be strong and capable in one realm, while remaining passive and deferential in another” (263).

Which of the ways in which the Black church has stifled Black women was most notable to you? Why or how so? Please provide a page number.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

The way in which Black women are viewed as lessers and not equals to men was most notable to me. On page 266 the experience of such degrading is mentioned through the experience of Donna a 41 year old high school history teacher. In one particular session of Bible study class Donna witnessed a first-hand portrayal of sexism. Her new pastor, twice-divorced, as a way to create visuals to express his sermon he drew a hierarchy of the way he viewed God, men, and woman and the relation to one another and the order of importance of each being. On the overhead projection screen he drew three boxes each containing one of the words "God", "man" or "woman". As the texts reads the pastor listed "The top fitting box(as)"God", directly beneath "God" was "man", and directly beneath "man" was "woman"." This infuriates me because instead of being equals beneath God woman is a secondary being as compared to men. It is purely pathetic that even in church we are still seen as the weaker and less important sex. Men and women should be created equal because all souls are valued and judged by God in the same manner. God is not sexist and does not hold men in a higher regard than women. The sins of both sexes are judged the same. Our God is a just and fair God.

McKayla W.

Breanna B. said...

I agree with McKayla, but can you really be surprised by this. In the bible, it is said that God created man and then took a rib from him and used this to create a woman to bring to the man. The bible is the root of a lot of the social issues the world faces today. This is no different than why the homosexuals haven't found true peace in their existence.

JaLeah M . said...

I agree with the beginning quote from the woman named Mildred. The part where she says "and there are certain things that only men can chair or do" (259). I think that's its shameful that sexism goes on within churches. On a personal account my church has a ministry title "strengthen thy sister" and although it was founded and is led by a group of women, at each and event men are welcome and even more encouraged to come. But, a lot of times they do not. I think the men of the church should support the women just as much as the women often support the men. I believe there are certain things that are a "man's job" or a "woman's job" but, I do not believe a woman should be limited to doing things within the church just for the sole reason that she is a woman. -JaLeah M.

Jazmyn Maggitt said...

I think Natalie's quote on page 264 was the most shocking to me. She said, "'The message was biased against women. We were expected to be a certain way, do certain things, and not really have a brain, not really have the ability to speak out the way you want to. If the pastor didn't say it, you couldn't do it.'" Pastors are supposed to be leaders of your faith, not dictators of your life. You should be able to live how you want and if you mess up along the way the people of church are supposed to be there to help get your life back on track. They aren't supposed to judge you and treat you as less than them, especially if the only the only problem they have with you, is that you're a woman. I feel like this whole principle goes against some of the key values of religion.

Sydney J said...

One part that caught my attention was on page 274 and the story about Cynthia. Although the pastor may have been doing it for the right reasons, he went about it the wrong way. It's mind blowing to me that some people simply don't understand that what they are doing or saying is extremely racist. It's unfortunate Cynthia felt the pastor only had her as a showpiece because holding a position like that in a predominantly white church is a huge step for a colored woman.
Sydney J.

Aja J. said...

What was most notable to me was how Black women are considered to be the backbone of the church, but “they often hear little from the pulpit about the creativity, independence, abad strength of women,” (263). It is true that Black women are an integral part of the Black church, but why is the pulpit not acknowledging it? I think the church should be the last place where sexism occurs.

Jamesha M. said...

I am most surprised by the fact that so many religious institutions are still so stuck in an old fashioned state of mind. I am not surprised at all that many women have stopped going to church or have changed churches. Many people choose not to attend church and I think it’s because of the very old-time type of beliefs some churches have, the same beliefs that are driving women away from the church.

I am very surprised though that women in religious standing feel this way, it always seemed to me that African American women were happy to give themselves to their churches. I never realized that so many of these women were suppressed and looked over when it comes to their own congregations.

devinrules97 said...

The part that stood out to me the most was the story of Terri on page 264. Terri says how she and her friend Ron were both youth ministers. She talks about how she and Ron both did the same amount of work, but Ron got more recognition and attention instead of her. It kind of ties back in with the idea that women do a lot of the work in the church, but are seen as tokens and are taken for granted a lot of the time. Women do a lot of hard work in the church and are not given the proper thanks for it.
Devin S.

Deborrah Blackburn said...

The thing that was most notable to me was how many of the women felt as though they were "second-class citizens" like Natalie.(264) In God's eyes women are just as important as men, and their jobs are just as significant. It's terrible that sexism exists in churches when everyone is supposed to work together and respect each other as equals, which is how God always intended it to be.
Deborrah B.

Asher said...

“Black women are expected to be strong and capable in one realm, while remaining passive and deferential in another” (263)

I agree with this quote and it's so true. Black women are expected to be able to handle everything, so be resilient, and strong, but when we want to speak our minds, we are shut down. How does that make sense? When our voices are being silenced because of certain stigmas and internalized racism and sexism. Maybe, that's why we don't see a lot of black female preachers. Have you ever wondered why is that?

-Asher Denkyirah

Peyton D. said...

Something that stood out to me was on page 264. It says, " Even when women are able to hold positions that have been traditionally male, their competence is sometimes questioned." It mentions a woman named Betty, who serves at a predominantly Black church as the treasurer. People assumed that her husband was really doing all of the work behind the scenes. It is sad that the competence of a person is questioned just because they are female especially in a place of supposed love and acceptance.

Kytela Medearis said...

Natalie's story (264) stood out to me the most. At my church I am involved in all sorts of ministry and have noticed that I never got the same recognition as my male counter parts. In other situations I felt as if my only job was to serve men, when reality all I was trying to do was serve God.

Anonymous said...

Natalie's (264) story can be reflected in any other setting. It's just how our society is. In terms of church, in all the one's I've attended, the women do way more than the men. I personally don't know too much about the deep sexism in the places I've been simply because I don't go to church and never wanted to be involved with it.. but I guess the theme of "women serving men" could be found somewhere in all of them. Sexism isn't the only negative you find in church so I never really paid attention to it.

-Que'rra

Kellsey H said...

Breanna B's comment is exceptionally noteworthy. I was unaware that such a statement was written in the bible. That makes me view this issue in an entirely different light. I am unsure now how I feel about it because I am one to draw correlations between the bible and what is happening in everyday life. I agree, though, the bible certainly plays a large role in societal controversies.

YaQkeha Witherspoon said...

I agree with both of you guys. Religion and the bible itself is the root of a lot of sexism. Because a lot of men, and women themselves believe that a woman place is behind a man in all aspects of life. And this is why there isn't any changes. We have to think of ourselves as equals before we can actually be equals.

Tameah Foley said...

Laura's story (271-272) was the most notable to me because it shows another shift that black women are expected to perform. The pastor at her church implied that verbal abusive is acceptable but physical abuse is crossing the line. Also, the fact that the clergy put emphasis on the idea that women MUST be married to achieve an important role in life, but a single man does not have to is an absurd implication. I was really shocked by her story the most because she had the choice to continue living in an abusive marriage that was affecting her and her son emotionally, or divorce him and basically be judged by the church. I'm more than happy she made the right decision and developed her own ministry.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

The quote “Black women are expected to be strong and capable in one realm, while remaining passive and deferential in another” (263) really stuck out to me. Black women are expected to be everything and handle everything, when it is convenient or beneficial. I think religion is extremely controversial nowadays because everybody's interpretation of the Bible is different. For some they take women in the Bible as being inferior to men, and to others they are equal or more important than the men in the Bible. I think it needs to be a stronger stand made to get more black women involved in ministry and tge recognition they deserve.

Alexandra D.

Lindsey McCall said...

The way that women are looked at in the church really hit home for me. I grew up in the church and I didn't witness a bishop or minister that was a woman until my teenage years. Because I grew up in the church, that was the norm so I never questioned why there were no woman bishops or ministers. On page 266 and 267 they discussed these issues in the church.

sierra lucas said...

The story about Cynthia on page 274 really caught my eye. I say this because it just surprises me how people dont understand that their actions or words are racist. Its really sad that Cynthia felt that way because having that position as a colored women in a all white church is a huge accomplishment for her. Sierra L.

Fiona H. said...

I agree with Lindsey completely. I hadn't witnessed a woman preacher until I was 18 years old. I thought it was normal and I didn't question it at all. I also cannot agree more with Breanna B's comment about the God taking a rib from the man and creating woman for the man. The bible teaches women to be inferior to the man at all times.

Maya said...

the passage that stood out the most to me was Sabrina's on page 267. It was interesting to see how in her hometown church the minister was very biased towards men. Then when she left for college she saw a whole other perspective. It shows how there are still old-fashioned beliefs and then there are newer beliefs and you just have to find where you fit in. I have never been to church before and I am not religious, so it was surprising to me to see that women were treated so differently in church when they believe that they are all Gods children and they are all so loving of God.

Dakarai P. said...

The story about Gaye on 264 really stuck out to me because a similar situation happened to my best friend. She got pregnant while in high school at the age of 18, at the time she was helping with her church's food drive but once they found out she was about to become an unwed, teen mother they no longer allowed her to participate.

Shardai J-H. said...

Breana B.'s comment makes a lot sense. Referring back to it, before that verse in the Bible, it says that man(Adam) was put into a deep sleep while woman was created. This means that man had no idea what God manifested within woman while he slept. We are powerful beyond measures, but it seems a mystery to society and sometimes to ourselves. A sort of unspoken thing or secret that we must find out on our own. On page 265, "One if the preachers talked about how the man should take care of the woman, and the woman should stay home and take care of the kids and the man." In today's society there are so many of our man that are either incarcerated or unemployed that this becomes an unrealistic goal.

Shelby W said...

What stood out most to me was Judith’s account of church (268) and the sexist methodologies practiced there. She said her pastor preached about the hierarchy of life which was God first, then man, and the woman last. I have been taught this my whole life as well and can relate to how she feels. I don’t think that men are necessarily above women, however I do understand what the bible is saying. I believe a man is the head of the household, but the woman’s position as nurturer, giver of life, and even breadwinner should not at all be stifled because of a man.

Anonymous said...

Women's role in churches need to be more appreciated. I feel as though women should be equal to men but churches tend to stick to their old ways. More progressive churches have women at the pulpit but more traditional churches would probably never allow this. I think a lot of it comes from women being seen as lesser throughout history. However this is no excuse. Many old traditions have been set aside so I don't see a valid reason why women couldn't do the same job as man would do in more churches. On page 263, women are reffered to as the "backbone" of the church and I believe it often leaves puts us on the "back burner" as well. Women's responsiblities in churches are often lower on the list of duties in churches than men's.
Taylor M.

Naomi Thompson said...

I feel like the worst thing a church can do is push people away. Regardless of race or gender, churches have an uncanny ability to judge and make predispositions on people instead of reaching out to them. Instead of creating a strong spiritual support system, people flee from the idea of religion completely because of their negative impressions. Terri says, "I felt the prejudices and discrimination were slowing my progress and weakening my strength as a leader in the body of Christ" (pg 265). As a Christian, it breaks my heart to see every day people turn away from their church or religion completely due to the judgement they received from the church body. I myself have stopped going to my home church because our church body has grown and with that came judgement and formality as opposed to the familiar, safe environment it originally was.