Yet with a Steady Beat: Contemporary U.S. Afrocentric Biblical Interpretation

By Randall C. Bailey | Go to book overview

ON THE BLURRING OF BOUNDARIES

Tina Pippin Agnes Scott College

Every semester I teach an introduction of one of the two biblical Testaments, and I always offer the same critique of the available textbooks to a class at my overwhelmingly white women's college in the South. Early each semester I quote a colleague at an across-town seminary, Randy Bailey, the editor of this volume and a yearly guest speaker in my Hebrew Bible course, on the white supremacy of biblical textbooks. As I explain my textbook choice to students (with concerns for cost a high priority), I also critique the ideological stance of most of the introductory texts. I hold up the textbook and quote Randy's charge of white supremacy. The students, even as my classroom becomes increasingly diverse, always look shocked for a variety of reasons: (1) they are not used to a professor being so blunt; (2) they have never imagined that a textbook could have such ideological ties; (3) they see such a statement as immediately excessive and aggravating; (4) they think I am making up this analysis out of my own singly weird, postmodern, feminist world; (5) they cannot imagine why a white woman from Jesse Helms's country would admit to her own complicity and accountability in racist structures and the material goods that support these structures; (6) they wonder why, if I feel this way, that I would even use a textbook. One reason I make this statement is partly pragmatic. I want to wake them up—both to the ideological complexities of the Bible (and bibles) and to our shared context at a church-related liberal arts college in the South that continues the legacy of the neo-plantation mentality and the racial, classist, gendered nature of the hierarchy of work and power on the campus. And I quote Randy to remind myself of my own role and use of my white privilege in the continuation of such structures. With this privilege and professorial authority I could easily shut my door to the ever-cyclical racial crises on campus, shut out the marginal voices in my Bible classroom, and there would be minimal, if any, protest.

As a biblical scholar and an ethicist in this context, I am constantly reminded of the centrality of the Bible in the lives of the majority of my

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