|Black History Month is that time of year when the achievements and courage of people of African descent are acknowledged and celebrated. However, for decades now, Black History Month has not once acknowledged or celebrated the contributions of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.|
Our omission from the annals of black history would lead you to believe that the only shakers and movers in the history of people of African descent in the
Along with the pantheon of noted black heterosexual leaders who will be lauded this month, I want to personally celebrate one of my queer and crossover sheroes,renown writer and poet Alice Walker for giving black women everywhere on the globe a new name we all can embrace - “womanist.”
While “sistah girl” is my favorite term to depict black women, no word, however, captures the totality of women of the African Diaspora in popular culture today than Pulitzer Prize author, Alice Walker’s, term “womanist.” Alice Walker coined the term in her 1983 collection of prose writings “In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose.”
The term “womanist” derives from African-American women’s folk expression “You are acting womanish”. The phrase illustrates little African-American girls’ precociousness as they attempt to comprehend and overcome the challenges adult African-American women face in their strategies for survival in an oppressive society.
“Womanist” was coined as a term that is both culture specific and encompasses a variety of ways in which women of the African Diaspora support each other and relate to the world.
Although the words “religion” and “Christian” do not appear in
For womanist Christian ministers and seminarians,
The secular use of “womanist” is by African-American women who have either left the
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers forNot’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is irenemonroe.com. Click here to contact the Rev. Monroe.