The Seeming Impossibilty Of Being Black, Loving God, And Having Sex

Good morrow dear Establishers!

Welcome aboard to the latest Unscrewed podcast — this week, we’re sailing one of the most fraught and tumultuous waters in the sick sad sea that is American culture. I speak of course of the unholy trifecta: sex, religion, and race.

Thankfully, we’ve got a veritable captain — black intellectual, professor, and feminist theologian Brittney Cooper! — guiding our sturdy vessel. Together, she and Jaclyn have set their spyglass on a beautiful if elusive shore: a land where black Americans can worship at the altar of God and bodily autonomy.

(Okay, that’s my last nautical metaphor, Unscrewed sailors, I promise.)

In addition to teaching Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers, Cooper pens a weekly column on race and gender politics at Salon (read it!), co-founded the Crunk Feminist Collective, and is a vocal advocate for reconciling faith and sexuality.

This episode is equal parts heady, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Cooper walks us through her own childhood, her chosen celibacy, and her painful demon-wrestling in her attempts to conquer the “double burden” — pleasing God and pleasing American morals through the “respectability” politics that have plagued the black community for decades.

Her experiences serve as a poignant case study for how the evangelical church has failed its flock, and continues to perpetuate damaging, nay, dangerous sexual mores that drive women to loveless marriages, self-loathing, disgust — and even a total disassociation from their own bodies.

Her 2011 post, first published anonymously — “Single, Saved And Sexin’” — single-handedly imploded the black Christian community, who came after the post in droves, telling the author she was a reprobate and surely there was a place in hell for a woman living in this kind of lasciviousness. “Shit hit the fucking fan,” Cooper tells Unscrewed host Jaclyn Friedman.

In the wake of this post, Cooper didn’t shirk, but stood a bit taller and yelled a bit louder, urging others to examine the black church and sex. Just about a year ago today, activist, scholar, and minister Ahmad Green-Hayes took to the Twittersphere to create the hashtag #BlackChurchSex.

Together with Cooper, Green-Hayes and other young theologians spurred on one of the most meaningful dialogues surrounding the intersection of black Christians’ sexuality — or lack thereof — which culminated in an unprecedented roundtable at the Princeton Theological Seminary this past March.

For those who believe God and “OH GOD!” are mutually exclusive, Cooper is living proof that this simply isn’t so.

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Lead Image: flickr/afunkydamsel

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