chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 29

By Eva Stimson
n a Saturday in mid-January,
more than 100 people gath-
ered at McGee Avenue Baptist
Church in Berkeley for the second an-
nual Womanist Symposium. The event
was jointly sponsored by San Francisco
Theological Seminary, the Graduate
Theological Union (GTU), and McGee
Avenue Church.
Solid attendance at both last year’s
and this year’s symposiums “is symbolic
of the interest people have in the subject
of Womanist theology,” says the Rev.
Martha Taylor, symposium convener
and adjunct faculty member at SFTS.
She says the symposium is important for
the SFTS community because it “opens
the door to include the voices of Black
women that are missing in academia.”
With its “focus on the theological
and social relevance of Black women,”
Taylor says, the symposium is “a one-of-
a-kind event in the Bay Area.” Having a
Black congregation host the symposium,
she adds, “bridges the gap between the
academy and the church.”
The theme of this year’s symposium,
“But Who Do They Say I Am?” came
from Matthew 16:15. “We used the ut-
tered words of Jesus Christ, the Great
Liberator, who posed this critical ques-
tion to his disciples,” Taylor explains.
“Jesus’ inquiry came as a result of identi-
ty confusion. People were confused with
regard to the identity of Jesus, including
his own disciples.”
The same question can be applied to
African American women, Taylor says.
“Black women are the only race of wom-
en that are continually cast in a nega-
tive light,” Taylor observes. “The nega-
tive images include but are not limited
to the media’s portrayal and betrayal of
Black women as Jezebel, Mammy, Wel-
fare Queen, and Angry Black Woman.”
Black women also are portrayed as hy-
persexual, an image that has its roots in
slavery, Taylor adds.
These negative images of African
American women were explored in the
symposium’s first plenary session, titled
“Media Madness,” led by Joi Carr, a
professor at Pepperdine University, and
Margaret B. Wilkerson, a professor
emeritus at the University of California-
The second plenary session, “My
Mama’s Shoes Don’t Fit My Feet,” fo-
cused on the generational divide be-
tween Black youth/young adults and
their parents and grandparents. Younger
African Americans are growing up with-
out having experienced the injustices
that sparked the Civil Rights move-
ment. Yet they stand on the shoulders of
their ancestors who struggled for equal
rights during the Jim Crow era. Many
in the older generation feel there is a lack
See Syposium on page 39
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor
Vivian Wells, MA, M.Div
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