The Sacred Black Feminine: A Conversation with Dr. Christena Cleveland
February 16, 2022
Christena Cleveland, Ph.D. is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal as well as its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation. An award-winning researcher and former professor at Duke University’s Divinity School, Christena lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Her newly released book, "God is a Black Woman," weaves personal pilgrimage and societal reckoning to dismantle the cultural “whitemalegod” and uncover the sacred black feminine—and ultimately hope, healing, and liberation.
In this episode Dr. Cleveland shares the importance of recognizing the sacred Black feminine in Christian tradition and her own life. Her newly released book, "God is a Black Woman," weaves personal pilgrimage and societal reckoning to dismantle the cultural “whitemalegod” and uncover the sacred black feminine—and ultimately hope, healing, and liberation. Dr. Cleveland defines mysticism as a "connection with one’s inner spiritual authority," and names the ways in which mystics and mysticism has failed the importance of intersectionality and therefore cannot necessarily be considered activism.
“I hesitate to connect mysticism with activism without a huge asterisk because the vast majority of people whoo call themselves mystics are really just help white people connect with some sense of peace and they’re not in solitary with like Black trans women and they’re not trying to think about ‘well what does mysticism look like in this context.’ And they’re not working against the systems off capitalism that keep people working 80-hours a week just to put food on their table. They’re not working for any off the things that would create some space for other people to connect with mysticism.”