Call for Pitches: Geez 62 Dismantling White Supremacist Theology

Bethlehem Credit: Paul Sableman

Deadline: May 15, 2021

“Since white theology has consistently preserved the integrity of the community of oppressors, we conclude that it is not Christian theology at all.”

- James Cone (A Black Theology of Liberation)

We are living witnesses to the violent weaving of Christianity, white supremacy, nationalism, capitalism, and patriarchy. The work of dismantling white supremacy and white theology is at the crux of our vocational understanding at Geez. This work is embedded in every issue we create, yet in this historical and political moment we want to narrow in on the necessity, pain, beauty, and power of dismantling this bullshit.

White supremacist theology is the current manifestation of a long marriage between Empire and Christianity. This relationship is old and well-worn. On the other hand, as long as these oppressive theologies have existed, there have also been theologies of liberation running alongside them. To understand where we are, we need to know where we come from and the ways that both streams have been embedded in this faith.

We stand at a moment of reckoning with the Christian church. For those of us who are in relationship with this tradition, what does it look like to wrestle with its racism and white supremacy? What would it take to claim or re-claim it? How do we stay?

The damage of white supremacist theology lives in our lands, our churches, our ancestral memories, and our bodies. So, our work now must entwine social analysis, story, bodies, reparations, spirit, and grace.

We want to acknowledge that all of us are situated in different positionalities to whiteness, theology, and white supremacist theology. We will need a wild array of perspectives from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color contributors, as well as white voices, to untangle this mess that has gone too long unnamed and unacknowledged.

Questions to Explore:

- How has toxic white theology embedded itself in the language and behaviour of white supremacy? And how has that theology entangled itself in our own lives and faith communities?

- What are the specific harms caused by this theology?

- What does anti-racist theology look like? What does decolonized theology look like?

- How has white supremacist theology been weaponized by the Right and those who benefit from the status quo? How has this theology contributed to driving a wedge between communities who should naturally be in solidarity with one another (working class folks, particularly)?

- Can it even be dismantled? The history and trauma can never be undone. So what does it mean moving forward? Can we ever even be “free” of this theology without returning the land and redistributing the stolen goods?

- How do we differentiate between white theology and the theology of empire? And does it matter?

- Is all theology done by white people inherently harmful? (We don’t think so!)

- Do you feel that you’ve begun to “come out of” understandings of white supremacist theology? Who or what has influenced you in that process? What other practices have you moved toward instead?

Historical and Social Analysis

- Write about the Doctrine of Discovery, missionaries, lynching trees, Constantine and the cross, etc.

- Write about the ancestors and movements who chose, in Anne Braden’s words, “the other America” of solidarity and justice.

- How have you or your community reclaimed ancestral theologies in service of liberation?

- For those of us who are white, how do we dismantle a theology we were raised with without just jumping to appropriate another theology?

Story

- What are the myths that you were taught as a way of socializing you into white supremacy? – Share your own story about the ways that toxic theology has permeated your own life or your communities. How does it live in your body?

- How do our own churches – the ones we come from and the ones we belong to – uphold white supremacy through doctrine or practice?

- How have holidays and liturgical seasons been used to indoctrinate white supremacy in you?

- Tell us some stories about what dismantlement has felt like. How has your embodiment changed?

- If you attended seminary or another religious institution – or even church school as a kid – reflect on how white supremacy may have lived in the curriculum or culture. Whose work did you study or learn from? What economic or political worldviews did your school invest in? Were there ways that liberatory theology showed up too?

- Where have you experienced Spirit anew? What parts of the old stories have taken on new meanings for you?

Prayer

- Help us pray our way out of here. Write us an exorcism for our churches, a prayer for our woundedness, a liturgy for reparations.

- Write a song like Miriam who sings and dances with joy as she releases herself from the bondage of oppressive theology.

Art

- Sketch the cost that toxic theology has laid on our world.

- Paint the dismantlement.

- Photograph the joy of solidarity theology.

- Is there a statue or painting of Jesus depicted as white in your church? How do you imagine this has formed the members who’ve walked through that space? Does it change who Jesus is or where and how he stands in the world?

Action

- Let us cleanse the sanctuaries – topple a statue of white Jesus in your church, remove the flag on the altar, or the painting of the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus from the wall.

- Participate in a reparations or land-back campaign with your church.

- Share your communal templates for holy mischief.

Notes about Submissions

We’re looking for long-form journalism, personal stories of transformation, short bursts of feelings, and nuggets of inspiration. Choose an aspect of the topic and expand with personal experience, researched wisdom, or spiritual insight.

A great pitch  will describe the piece, explain why it’s a perfect fit for Geez, list the sources you’ll consult, and state why you’re the best person to write it. Please include a brief bio and where you live. 

Ideally, pitches are a page or less. Note: if you send us 20 pages, we likely will not be able to read it. If you already have a completed manuscript, poem, photo, or design, feel free to submit it as well.

1. Long-form nonfiction (600, 1200, or 1800 words)

We’re looking for creative nonfiction essays, investigative articles or research-based pieces on the topic above. While a reference to your personal experience is welcome, readers need wisdom from other sources as well (interviews, books, articles, theologians, social-justice activists, academics, and moms and dads). 

2. Flash nonfiction (50-300 words)

These are short, personal experiences or insights. Your piece should capture a moment that illuminates a larger issue or convey a feeling familiar to us all. This is a chance to bring hope, insight, emotion, and connection to readers. Think of it as a snapshot with words.

3. Photos/Illustrations:

Consider the topic above and send original photographs (i.e. you took the photo) or illustrations that provoke or pacify, animate or incite. Or, if you know of a photographer or illustrator who can deliver an awesome photo essay or series of drawings and is willing to get big play in a premium little magazine for a modest honorarium, please pass this pitch along. Note: artwork pitches and submissions will be given more time, due June 15. 

4. Poems:

In each issue we aim to publish 2 or more poems, often with one poem per page. Poems may relate closely to the theme, or not. We’ll look at them all.

Additional Info:

Before pitching, please read our guidelines for writers. Ideally we would like to respond personally to every piece of correspondence we receive. But given the number of submissions we receive – and having tried to respond to all – we realize it is just not possible. If you do not hear back from us within four weeks of the deadline assume that we were unable to use your submission.

Contributor Honorariums:

We are a small nonprofit that currently offers very modest honorariums. Depending on the length, we usually offer between $30 and $100. Our goal for our 2022 budget is to increase these numbers.

Deadline for pitches: May 15, 2021

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Sincerely,
Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, managing editor
Kateri Boucher, associate editor
Lucia Wylie-Eggert, art director

Send pitches, manuscripts, and images to: 
Geez Editors
email: stories [at] geezmagazine [dot] org
mail: Geez magazine, 1950 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216 USA
To join our Writers List, click HERE.

Image credit: “Bethlehem (3),” Paul Sableman, Flickr.

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