One of the central threads in the public discourse on Black womanhood is the idea of the “Jezebel.” This trope deems Black women and girls as dishonorable and sexually deviant and the stereotype is circulated from the big screen to the pulpit. Tamura Lomax, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, outlines a historical genealogy of the discursive “Jezebel” and reveals its contemporary legacy in Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture
(Duke University Press, 2018). Lomax brings together theoretical strands from medieval thinkers, Biblical narratives, Enlightenment theories of race, and American cultural productions to demonstrate how gender hierarchy and patriarchy have been constructed in Black communities. These systems can be reinforced through the relationship between Hip Hop culture and the Black church or be challenged by Womanist interpreters. In our conversation we discuss girlhood in the the Black Church, racial theories, the Biblical Jezebel, Womanist criticism, formations of respectability, female sexuality and femininity, Bishop T. D. Jakes, and the work of Tyler Perry.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at email@example.com.