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African American Women’s Experience The experience of African American is unique and part and parcel of the African American experience overall.

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Presentation on theme: "African American Women’s Experience The experience of African American is unique and part and parcel of the African American experience overall."— Presentation transcript:

1 African American Women’s Experience The experience of African American is unique and part and parcel of the African American experience overall.

2 Problems through experience “Sexuality, cultural roles, and gender relations early became central problems in the organizational and cultural responses of African-Americans to their enslavement and to their subsequent experience” AAC, 82

3 Causes of the problems African reality 1. Women worked beside the men in the fields. 2. Women were degraded along with the men. 3. Families were intentionally broken up. 4. Roles of men and women were made the same. 5. The church was reluctantly, belatedly and tenuously given approval Euro-American ideals 1. Men and women have different spheres. 2. Women are “protected.” 3. Families are kept together. 4. Different roles for men and women. 5. Freedom to associate.

4 Women faced problems 1. Race 2. Class 3. Gender

5 A Black Woman’s context Although their circumstances created problems it also gave African American women a unique perspective on life. Black women developed a “multiple consciousness” which enabled them to have a critique unique only to them.

6 Role Models Characteristics Autonomous Independent Strong Self-reliant

7 Religious Imagination Priestesses Cult Leaders Female deities Female images of the divine

8 African American Church Realities The African-American church is male dominated for a couple of reasons: Most African societies are patriarchal America is patriarchal African American churches were theologically influenced by their “evangelists”

9 Result of the tensions African American women supported one another in child rearing and child bearing (e.g. many became midwives) Helped each other in religious life Became religious leaders in the slave community

10 Two dominant aspects of the dual oppression of race and gender. 1. Development of “dual-sex politics” in historically Black churches. Autonomous independent self reliant 2. Development of the “tradition of conflict.” Politically active Community work Resist the “imposition of Euro-American patriarchy

11 The Tension Between European Religious Thinking Compartmentalization Specialization vs. African Thought Thorough integration Group responsibility

12 Importance of Women in African Societies This created unique problems and yet was the strength of resistance for the women to total enslavement. Women were able to “impose” themselves onto the political process through cooperation among themselves. Women provided a strong economic base.

13 African Roles for Women Business Persons Politically Organized Mutually Supportive

14 Economic Controlled certain industries High economic position Were traders What they traded or negotiated belonged to them (usually) Raised food--planted and maintained crops

15 Political Organization Expressed their disapproval and secured their demands by public demonstrations through ridicule satirical singing and dancing group strikes

16 Mutual Support Supported each other through organizations which dealt with problems of: violations of domestic law decisions concerning agricultural labor mutual aid situations involving men

17 African Women’s organizations were based on economic status, age and social status

18 Black Women’s Support Women were members of organizations with like status. Peers were called “sister” and elders were called “mother.”

19 Sometimes the women had “institutional authority.”

20 Authority in titles Omu -- Queen Ilogo -- Women’s cabinet These women held real power and the queen was not necessarily the wife of a king but were important contacts between men’s world and women’s world.

21 Dual-Sex Politics of Black Churches African American women played and continue to play a very powerful role in Church life.

22 Various Roles Teacher Evangelist Missionary Deaconess “Sister”

23 Recognized Role Church Mother older woman spiritually mature morally upright Mother spiritual/moral leader highly influential state mother Political Activist active in community active in church stressed education were educators started national organizations

24 Recognized ability Baptist and African Methodist women were highly sought after by the founders of Holiness and Pentecostal churches In the new denominations they established schools educated members preached at various services founded churches maintained a church until a pastor arrived became wives of pastors and bishops

25 Structural Importance in COGIC congregations The women’s department was built on the role of church mother The term “missionary” and “evangelist” developed out of the prohibition against women preaching Missionary and evangelist needed to have the signatures of both the Bishop and Church Mother on their certificate

26 Structural Sometimes the title “missionary” referred to all of the various roles of women While the term minister encompasses the male roles There were also “double pulpits” one for non “preachers” and another one for “preachers”

27 Some of these structures also exist in the Black Baptist Churches

28 Handling Black Male Domination in Black Churches

29 Methods used by Black Women Black Female Hermeneutic Women’s Day Changing church membership Founding churches “Militant assertion of personhood” Confidence in their own abilities for the larger society

30 Origins of “Black Biblical Feminism” Jarena Lee (1783? - ) Although the AME Church did not ordain she was permitted to “speak” meetings. Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795-1871) Became a member of the Shakers because of their stand. Amanda Berry Smith (1837- 1915) Holiness “Gifted singer, preacher, evangelist, and missionary” There are quite a few churches in AME which have women as pastors.

31 An Influential Women Ida B Wells-Barnett

32 Response by Men Although the large Black Baptist Conventions have a number of churches which oppose women pastors some of these churches do have women as pastors

33 Some of the Biblical arguments used by women God used women in every capacity--owners, evangelists, teachers, helpers, military God made women equal to men Men come from women

34 Women fought Black patriarchy in two ways 1. Expanded analysis of women’s role. They used Biblical arguments in defense of women their work. They did it to the point where sermons were affected--men had to “finely tune” and elaborate their argument. One practice was for the women to name the unnamed woman in a text. (woman with the issue of blood “Safronia”

35 2. They fully developed the Woman’s Day One Sunday each year the women would lead in the worship in everything from Sunday School to the main worship service to special program to the evening service. It became and still is a national event in that it is practiced by many Black Churches

36 Dilemmas of Commitment “In spite of male domination, the black church functions for women as a women’s institution. Dual-sex politics mean that women have the autonomy necessary to provide their own leadership training. While their access to authority within the church is limited, women occupy roles which are authoritative within the scope of the entire tradition.”

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