Celebrating African-American women scholars

by Anthony Bradley
Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, at 4:10 pm

In an earlier column I noted the growing number of black male scholars across the country but completely ignored a number of black women scholars-an unfortunate oversight on my part. I'm no historian, but it seems like we currently have more African-American women professors and administrators at traditionally Christian institutions than ever before. This is amazing and should be celebrated.

Examples include Dr. Larycia A. Hawkins, an assistant professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College in Illinois; Dr. Alicia Jackson, an assistant professor of History at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga.; and Dr. Cheryl E. Williams, vice president for International and Cultural Relations and dean of Global Programs at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.

What encourages me is that these women are doing a great job disproving the false, popular stereotypes of African-America women, which are (1) highly maternal, family oriented, and self-sacrificing "Mammies"; (2) threatening and argumentative "Sapphires"; and (3) seductive, sexually irresponsible, promiscuous "Jezebels." Given the pervasiveness of these stereotypes, these women are doing some heavy lifting. It would be fantastic to hear their stories and learn how they have had to work against these stereotypes.

The United States is likely the only country in the world that could provide opportunities for individuals from a population racially marginalized for centuries to rise to assume the roles that these women have embraced within evangelicalism. It's still the case that most evangelical organizations have few, if any, blacks in leadership roles, but the institutions that hired these women provide encouraging signs about the future. The liberties and progress afforded minorities in the United States, compared to other countries, is simply unprecedented in Western history. We live in a great country!

Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York and a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

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