Although I was raised by a single mother and often talked to her about obstacles women faced, that Sunday service in the 1990s opened my eyes to what had been in front of me all along: Black churches are often oppressive spaces for black women.
Of course, black women have always known this. Delores S. Williams told us this 25 years ago when she wrote about how the Bible and theology are used to marginalize black women in her foundational text, “Sisters in the Wilderness.”
From the pulpit, Neichelle Guidry, dean of the chapel at Spelman College, brilliantly proclaims the truth about how ecclesiastical spaces are often full of “misogynoir,” a term coined and developed by the scholar Moya Bailey and the critic Trudy to discuss the way race and gender play a role in the misogyny experienced by black women.
Yet, even with black women leading the charge against this evil, the reality of patriarchy means many people in the black church will not take these moral failures seriously unless they are voiced by a man who has been ordained. This is wrong and unfair. But I have been ordained, so I’m speaking up.